Since 2007 The Writers Guild of America, West has commissioned a semiannual report called the Hollywood Writers Report. The report analyzes employment patterns for broadcast television and film writers and highlights three specific groups that tend to be underemployed in the entertainment industry: women, minorities and older writers.
The overall findings of this year’s report, which analyzed film and television writers working during the 2011-2012 season, are that there are slight gains for women and minority writers working on television. However in the world of film there is a continuing decline in diversity.
“The good news is that, since the last report published in 2011, there appears to have been small gains for women and minorities in television employment and earnings — though both groups still have quite a way to go to reach parity with their white male counterparts,” said report author Darnell M. Hunt, director of the Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies at UCLA and professor of sociology. “The story for film, unfortunately, is not so good. Since the last report, there has been no progress for either group. Indeed, relative to white males, women and minorities have lost ground in the sector.”
While the full report will not be published until June, the executive summary has been made available. Here are some of the findings, courtesy of Deadline:
· Women remained underrepresented by a factor of nearly 2-to-1 among TV writers in 2012, claiming 27% of sector employment, and they earned about 92 cents for every dollar earned by white males in 2012 — up slightly from 91 cents in 2009. Women screenwriters accounted for 15% of sector employment (down from 17% in 2009) , and they earned 77 cents for every dollar earned by white male film writers in 2012, down from 82 cents in 2009.
· Minority TV writers posted an increase in employment share (from 10% in 2009 to 11% in 2012), also closing the earnings gap “a bit.” Data also show that minorities watch a disproportionate share of television and theatrical films, while increases in their consumer spending outpace the rest of the nation. On the film side, the minority share of film employment was steady at 5% compared by 2009.
· Older writers — especially ages 41-50 — claimed the largest share of employment in TV and film, as well as the highest earnings in each sector. The relative status of older writers tends to decline “rather rapidly” beyond 60.
“Before we are likely to realize meaningful, sustained change…other industry players – the networks, studios, and agents – will have to go well beyond what they have routinely done in the past to address the troubling shortfalls evident on the diversity front among writers,” said Hunt, “Only then will the industry position itself to make the most of opportunities afforded by audiences whose story needs are becoming more diverse by the moment.”
Is this lack of diversity a problem? Leave your thoughts in the comments.