The number of women working as writers and directors on prime-time broadcast programs took a big tumble in the 2010-11 season, a new study reports — part of an overall decline in women's employment as actresses and in key creative jobs behind the camera.
Women comprised 15% of writers on the prime-time dramas, comedies and reality shows on ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox and the CW, down from 29% in the 2009-10 season, according to the report from the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film at San Diego State University. In the directing ranks, it found, 11% were women, compared with 16% the previous year.
Overall, the center said, women accounted for 41% of all on-air characters — down from the record-high 43% the year before — and comprised 25% of the people working as series creators, producers, executive producers, directors, writers, editors and directors of photography, a decrease of two percentage points.
The study, which the center has been doing since the 1995-96 season, is based on surveying one randomly selected episode from each network series during the season. "Statistically speaking, the randomization of the choice of episodes — across many series — should yield an accurate picture of the season of network shows because biases or idiosyncrasies are minimized," said Martha Lauzen, executive director of the center.