Dialed In: Are Women Taking Over Television?

A new study finds that women are making impressive strides both onscreen and behind the scenes in TV.

(Photos: Getty)

Sep 5, 2013
A Canadian ex-pat with a passion for pop culture, Carly is a multi-published author, public speaker and screenwriter.

Women might still be fighting the wage gap and struggling for equality, but in the world of entertainment, there’s one arena where they’re starting to make strides: TV.

According to “Boxed In,” an annual study done by San Diego State University’s Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film, women are making breakthroughs both in front of and behind the camera. The 2012-13 broadcast season saw women making up 28 percent of the workforce—including creators, writers, executive producers, editors and more—which is up two percentage points from the previous year, and up seven from the ’97/’98 season. That’s a record high.

Meanwhile, women made up 43 percent of all onscreen speaking characters, as well as 43 percent of all major characters across the board—numbers that rose two percentage points, even over the previous record set during the ’07/’08 season. But how do the networks and content providers fare? Netflix came out on top, with 26 percent of all behind-the-scenes staff positions held by women, 42 percent of all speaking characters played by women, and 41 percent of characters overall bearing ovaries. The CW was the network with the highest concentration of female characters at 51 percent, while Fox and ABC followed at 44 percent. NBC came in third with 41 percent. Not bad.

That said, there’s still a lot of room for improvement. The number of women series creators is down two points from last year, producers are the same as last season, while directors of photography dropped a point. But at least it’s a step in the right direction, and the more women break through in this arena, the more others can follow in their footsteps. Now, if only they could do something about those clichéd “mommy” and “best friend” roles…

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