Why We Need More Women Creating TV Shows

The battle of the sexists – we mean sexes – continues!

Or, in the words of LB’s grandfather: “And so it ever was.” (Hey, we didn’t say he was clever. But grandma, on the other hand knew how to turn a phrase….)

WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA - JUNE 07:  Actress Tina Fey attends the FYC screening of Netflix's "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt" at Pacific Design Center on June 7, 2015 in West Hollywood, California.  (Photo by Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic)

by Eliana Dockterman

Tina Fey might be even more important to the future of television than we thought.

Leading up to this weekend’s Emmys Awards, during which a handful of female showrunners could upstage their male counterparts, a new study suggests that these women are more essential to achieving gender parity in Hollywood than previously thought. Shows with female creators and producers not only feature more female characters, but they also employ significantly more women as directors, writers and editors than shows run by men, according to this year’s “Boxed In” report from the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film at San Diego State University.

The statistics, released Tuesday, come just days before Transparent creator Jill Soloway, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt creator Tina Fey and Orange Is the New Black creator Jenji Kohan will compete for Emmys gold in the best comedy and best drama categories—Kohan was the only female showrunner to earn such an honor last year—and bring renewed attention on their influence on the industry.

That annual report found on network television, for instance, women make up 50% of the writing staff on shows created by women but just 15% of the writing staff on shows created by men. Similarly, in shows with a female executive producer, women account for 32% of the writers, while on shows with no female executive producer, the writing staff is 6% female.

Whether women are in charge also affects how many female characters appear on the show. On network, cable and streaming television shows, 42% of the characters on programs with at least one woman executive producer are female. That number drops to 35% on shows with no female executive producers.

“The findings suggest that creators and executive producers play an instrumental role in shifting the gender dynamics for both on-screen characters and other individuals working in powerful behind-the-scenes roles,” Martha Lauzen, executive director of the program, said in a press release.

The annual report tallies up the number of women working both in front of the camera and behind the scenes on network television, cable television and Netflix. (Other streaming services, including Amazon and Hulu were not included in the study this year.) As in previous years, women continue to be underrepresented both onscreen and behind the scenes on television.

Read it all at Time