A new Writers’ Guild study of the most recent TV staffing season has found that women and people of color are severely underrepresented at all levels of the TV writer ecosystem, but the problem becomes especially acute in the upper echelons.
The Writers Guild of America West’s Inclusion Report Card, released on Monday, examined the guild’s employment data and found that women made up just 36% of working TV writers for the 2017-18 season, while people of color made up 27%. These numbers come despite the two groups representing 51% and 39%, respectively, of the U.S. population at large.
At the lower levels, primarily at the entry-level staff writer position, the spread is more equitable, but representation dwindles moving up the ladder. Women, for example, make up just 17% of executive produces and 24% of showrunners. People of color represent just 12% of writers at both levels.
The study also examined other kinds of representation in TV writers’ rooms, including people with disabilities, LGBTQ+ individuals and writers over the age of 50.
All three groups also face some level of discrimination, with disabled writers suffering the most, making up less than one percent of all TV writers. 19% of Americans, 56.7 million people, identify as disabled.
The report comes as the industry prepares to head into the staffing process for the 2019-20 broadcast season, which itself comes amid a period of uncertainty as the dispute between writers and their agents shows no signs of heading toward resolution.
“We urge all studios and showrunners to continue being part of the solution by improving upon 2018’s numbers in the 2019 TV staffing season,” the guild said in the report. “With honesty, accountability, and continued effort, we can end unfair discrimination against writers and increase inclusion and equity across our industry.”
Read the full report and all of its findings here.