A recent study conducted by The Writers Guild of America West found that inclusion in TV staffing for the 2017-2018 season displays discrimination in the industry on all levels.
The study “WGAW Inclusion Report Card 2017-2018 TV Staffing Season” reports that between 2017-2018 there were 2,985 jobs staffed by writers for TV. And despite the U.S. population being 51% women, only 36% of TV writers jobs are held by women.
The gap is even more expansive for people of color, who make up 39% of the U.S. population but only hold 27% of TV writer jobs. And for the 56.7 million Americans who identify as disabled, less than 1% make up all TV writers.
Discrimination only worsens at the higher levels. In 2018, only 24% of TV showrunner roles were held by women and only 12% were held by persons of color.
The data on LGBTQ+ writers (which was incomplete at the time of the report) reports that they do not fall under the umbrella of people that are considered diverse. However, the report states that The Writers Guild of America West believes “that LGBTQ+ writers are without question members of a historically underrepresented group.”
Another hole in diversity for TV writers is seen through age discrimination, finding that there is a near-total absence of writers over 50. This finding excludes writers at the highest levels, who more often than not got their start earlier in life.
There is, however, evidence of progress. Employment numbers have doubled over the past decade on TV series. Women have increased from 30% to 35% and persons of color have increased from 17% to 27%.
The report emphasized that the problem is far from solved but “with honesty, accountability, and continued effort, we can end unfair discrimination against writers and increase inclusion and equity across our industry.”