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Number of Women Working in TV Takes a Tumble, Study Says

Both behind and in front of the cameras, females are represented less than they were last year

The job market might be tight for everyone, but when it comes to women working in the television industry, times are especially tough.

The Los Angeles Times reports that the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film at San Diego State University has released its most recent study on women working in television, and it isn't a pretty story for the ladies: The number of females both in front of and behind the cameras is down from just a year ago.

The trend is most drastic in the writing arena: During the 2010-2011 television season, a mere 15 percent of writers for prime-time shows on ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox and the CW were female, compared to 29 percent during the 2009-2010 season.

On the directorial front, too, the news was grim for the female half: Sixteen percent of the directors' spots being taken by women in the 2009-2010 season, but this year the number shrank to 11 percent.

The number of on-air characters also dipped slightly: This most recent season, 41 percent of all on-air characters were female, as compared to last season's 43 percent (which, granted, was an all-time high).

Of all the networks surveyed, only the CW managed to represent women "in accurate proportion to their representation in the U.S. population," with 52 percent of its characters being female, the study found. The worst? NBC, whose female characters made up just 36 percent of overall characters.

The Center, which has been conducting its study since the 1995-1996 season, arrives at its numbers by surveying one random episode from each show aired by the networks.

The study suggested that the lack of women behind the camera could also be contributing to the lowered number of females in front of the camera.

"Programs with at least one woman creator or writer featured more female characters than programs with no women creators or writers," it said.