Women, Minority Directors Still Underrepresented on TV, Study Says

Annual DGA analysis shows white men still disproportionally dominate the field

Last Updated: September 13, 2016 @ 3:22 PM

There has been very slight improvement for women and minority TV directors over the past year, according to a Directors Guild of America annual report that was released on Monday.

Women directed 17 percent of all episodes, a small increase from 16 percent the prior year, according to the report.

Ethnic minorities (male and female) directed 19 percent of all episodes, marking only a 1 percentage point increase over the prior year.

“These numbers shine a light on the lack of real progress by employers in this industry, plain and simple,” said DGA President Paris Barclay. “Of particular concern is the precedent being set by the fastest-growing category, streaming video… There’s a long road ahead for true change to be realized — because for that to happen, the pipeline will need to change at the point of entry. Employers will need to implement new hiring practices — from getting more people in the door and interviewing more diverse candidates, to hiring experienced directors instead of handing these jobs out as perks.”

The report analyzes the ethnicity and gender of directors hired to direct episodic television series across broadcast, basic cable and high-budget original series made for subscription video on demand (SVOD).

More than 4,000 episodes produced in the 2015-2016 network television season and the 2015 cable television season from 299 scripted series were analyzed.

Here are some highlights from the report:

  • The pie (total number of episodes) continues to grow — but the growth has slowed: There were 4,061 episodes in the 2015-2016 season — representing a 4 percent increase in total episodes since the 2014-2015 season (which grew 10 percent over the 2013-2014 season).
  • With that expansion came more directing jobs for all:
    • Women directed a total of 702 episodes — 85 more episodes than in the 2014-2015 season (a 14 percent increase). The total number of individual women directors employed in episodic television grew 23 percent to 183 (up from 149 in the 2014-2015 season).

  • Ethnic minorities directed 783 episodes — 89 more episodes than in the 2014-2015 season (a 13 percent increase).
  • And although the percentage of episodes directed by Caucasian males decreased to 67 percent (from 69 percent in the 2014-2015 season), the actual number of episodes directed by Caucasian males went up slightly to 2,717 (from 2,714 the year prior).
  • The number of “Worst Of” series (series that hired women and minority directors for fewer than 15 percent of episodes) decreased 7 percent to 57 series. However, there were 30 series with 0 percent women or minority hires on the DGA’s “Worst Of” list — four more than in the 2014-2015 season.
  • The DGA’s “Best Of” list (series that hired women or minority directors for at least 40 percent of episodes) increased 28 percent to 73 series.
  • Series produced for broadcast led the way in the hiring of women (20 percent female directors versus 80 percent male) and ranked high in the hiring of ethnic minority directors (19 percent). Shows produced for basic cable ranked lowest in the hiring of women (14 percent) and highest in the hiring of minority directors (24 percent) – though nearly a quarter of all basic cable episodes directed by ethnic minority directors are attributed to a single director, Tyler Perry.

Read the whole report here.