A new study, first obtained by Deadline, reveals that the TV landscape is still dominated by men—while women’s representation both on and off screen has plateaued or backslid. The yearly “Boxed In” report, released by the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film at San Diego State University, finds that women only make up 27 percent of the workforce behind the camera—directors, producers, editors, writers, etc. That’s a 3.5 percent decline from last year. Similarly, the proportion of onscreen (speaking) female roles remains stagnant at 42 percent, a one-point decrease from last year.
“For many years, women have experienced slow but incremental growth [ on and off screen],” said Dr. Martha Lauzen, executive director of the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film, which conducted the 17th annual study. “However, that progress, small though it was, now appears to have stalled.”
The researchers also debunked the popular misconception that Netflix—home of the hit female-driven powerhouse Orange Is the New Black—and cable channels employ more women. “People believe that cable is more female-friendly than broadcast,” said Lauzen, “but that’s really not really the case.”
Among the study’s other discoveries about the lack of women in offscreen creative roles:
- Female writers’ numbers dropped sharply, with women holding just 1 in 4 writing jobs (down from 1 in 3).
- Women’s share of director of photography jobs decreased to 1 percent (down from 2 percent).
- Twenty percent of writing jobs were held by women (a 17-percent decrease).
- Female executive producers fell to 23 percent (a 15-percent decrease).
- Forty-four percent of TV shows employed four women or fewer, compared to 1 percent of TV shows that employed four men or fewer.
The study isn’t all bad news, though. Women in several fields made significant gains from last year:
- Female directors held 13 percent of directing jobs (a 7.7-percent increase).
- Forty-three percent of producing jobs were occupied by women (a 13-percent increase).
- Seventeen percent of editors were female (a 5.9-percent increase).
Perhaps the most promising and practical insight is the onscreen/offscreen correlation: The more women there are working behind the cameras, the more female characters appear onscreen. Broadcast TV shows that employed as least one female writer or director also had more female characters. “[W]hen women are employed behind the scenes, they make a difference,” Lauzen said.