What's Happening?

19.2.14

US Women Still Underrepresented in TV, according to Women's Media Center study


Clockwise from left: Scandal, Rizzoli and Isle, The Good Wife, Girls
We came across an interesting study about the representation of women in US TV. The study, done for the Women's Media Center, an organisation founded by Jane Fonda, Gloria Steinem and Robin Morgan in 2005, has found that US Women are still underrepresented in TV. 

According to the findings: 

  • Women had 43 percent of speaking parts in prime-time TV for the 2012/13 TV season.
  • This is an increase of two percent from the 2010/11 season. 
  • What the study found is that those women tended to be much younger than their male acting counterparts.
  • 30 percent of men but 19 percent of women were in their 20s. 
  • 22 percent of men and 14 percent of women were in their 40s.
  • Also, women are less likely to either be seen at their work sites or actually working, researchers concluded.
  • The study also found that there are more white women but fewer women of color have been directing prime-time TV shows but the overall numbers for women has remained virtually unchanged.
  • At 51 percent, the CW network 
    had the most female characters.
  • Fox and ABC each had 44 percent;
  • NBC, 41 percent; and CBS 
    39 percent.
  • Interestingly enough, women were 48 percent of reality 
    show casts; 
  • 43 percent of the 
    cast in comedies; and 40 percent 
    in dramas.
  • The women writers matter because w
    hen programs had no women 
    writers, 40 percent of their casts 
    were women and when shows had 
    at least one woman writer, 43 percent 
    of the casts were female.
  • Shows with no women creators 
    had casts that were 41 percent 
    female. Shows with at least one 
    female creator had casts that 
    were 47 percent female.
These findings are very interesting, especially with so many shows that are being led by women. Shows like Scandal, The Good Wife, Rizzoli &Isles, Castle, Being Mary Jane, The Middle, Two Broke Girls, New Girl, Girls, Parks and Recreation and more are led by women and that they are still so underrepresented on screen is baffling. 

Surely the time has come for things to be equal? But then one can say that we have the same issue about the racial under-representation on broadcast TV. There are fewer Latina, Asian and African women (and men) on our screens. Is Hollywood ever going to address these things or are we to accept that it will stay this way? 

The 66 page findings of the study also has more interesting conclusions about film, TV news etc and is available here. There clearly is still a long way to go. 

Here's some info about the Women's Media Center:
In 2005, Jane Fonda, Robin Morgan and Gloria Steinem founded the Women’s Media Center (WMC), a progressive, non-partisan, non-profit organization that is raising the visibility, viability and decision-making power of women in media, and ensuring that women’s stories get told and women’s voices get heard.

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