WGA West Study Finds Mixed Results on Pay for Women, Minority Writers

Women TV writers saw slight rise in pay, but screenwriters’ pay drops 13 percent; findings were mixed for minority, older writers

The gender pay gap has gotten larger for film writers, according to a new study released by the Writers Guild of America West.

Their 2016 Hollywood Writers Report examined trends in hiring and compensation between 2012 and 2014, and found that females made 78 cents on the dollar in 2012, and had fallen to 68 cents by 2014 — a roughly 13 percent drop.

The report examined the progress of women, minority and older writers relative to their male, white and younger counterparts, and the findings were certainly mixed.

While female feature-film writers took a hit, their counterparts in television ratcheted up pay by 2 cents — from 2012’s 91 cents on the dollar to approximately 93 cents in 2014 for every $1 earned by white males, according to the WGAW report. 

Minority hiring for television writing is flat, with minority writers accounting for 13 percent of all TV writers — underrepresented in the workplace by a ratio of  3 to 1 against their white counterparts. There was a 7 percent increase in employment of minority film writers, but minorities remain underrepresented in the movie sector by a ratio of 5 t0 1.

The industry has been rife with conversations about gender parity. In December, a network of executives, creatives, and thought leaders gathered for a two-day conference on gender equality. The result was a “conversion” plan to balance the scales across entertainment, and develop a rating system for companies effecting change.

Read the key finding from the 2016 Hollywood Writers Report:

Women Writers’ TV Employment Increases

· Woman’s share of television employment increased 2 percentage points between 2012 and 2014, from 27 percent to 29 percent.

Women TV Writers Close Income Gap

· Women television writers earned approx. 93 cents for every dollar earned by white males in 2014, up slightly from 91 cents in 2012.

Gender Earnings Gap in Film Widens Again

· Women writers earned 78 cents for every dollar earned by their white counterparts in 2012. By 2014, the relative earnings figure dropped to 68 cents.

Minority Share of Television Employment Remains Flat

· Accounting for 13 percent of television writers, minorities remain underrepresented by a factor of about 3 to 1 among writers in the sector.

Minority Share of Film Employment Increases Slightly

· The minority share of film employment increased a percentage point to 7 percent since 2012, but still has further to go before minorities catch up with their white counterparts; minorities continued to be underrepresented by a factor of about 5 to 1 among employed film writers in 2014.

Older Writers’ Employment Share Continues to Increase in Television and Film

· In 2014, television writers 51 to 60 enjoyed a 1 percentage point increase in employment share between 2012 and 2014, from 18 to 19 percent. In film, the pattern continued, as older writers aged 51 to 60 enjoyed a 1 percentage-point increase in employment share between 2012 and 20114, from 17 percent to 18 percent.