Study: Number of Women Working in TV Stays Steady

The number of women working on broadcast network programs declined negligibly to 25 percent.

The number of women working on broadcast network programs declined to 25 percent during the 2008-09 primetime season, according to a study released today by the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film.


The number of women working on sitcoms, dramas and reality programs was down one percentage point from last season, with most employed as producers (35 percent) and writers (29 percent).


The slight decline isn’t cause for worry, said San Diego State University’s Dr. Martha Lauzen, who led the study (left).


"What we really have been seeing in television overall is very small incremental growth, so one percentage point is steady," she told TheWrap. "For women today, television is where it’s at. If you look at the really interesting roles for women these days, they are on television and not film — like ‘The Closer’ or ‘Saving Grace’ — and that’s because there are more women behind-the-scenes."


The number of writers has increased from 23 percent the season prior, but is less than the recent historical high in 2006-07, when it stood at 35 percent .


Nine percent of directors were women — down 2 percent — while 18 percent were employed as editors.


Only 4 percent of women worked as directors of photography, but that figure was up from 1 percent previously.


The study looked at over 2,000 individuals working behind-the-scenes on a randomly selected episode of every genre of show on ABC, CBS, CW, Fox and NBC.


"It is interesting that reality programming, sitcoms and dramas all stayed the same," Lauzen said. "With reality, a new genre, we think it’s going to do things differently or be more progressive, but the business structure and economics overwhelm what might be the inclination to be progressive."


Of those networks, the most women worked at ABC (30 percent), followed by CBS (26 percent). Fox employs the fewest number of women — only 19 percent.


Meanwhile, women in film are even more poorly represented — studio directors are 93 percent white males who are are around 45 years old, according to an informal New York Times study included in Aug. 22 article.