On September 18th, 2016, the 68th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards were held in Los Angeles, California. Despite the increase in TV episodes in the 2015-2016 season, the number of women directors, writers, producers, and editors has remained relatively consistent for the past 10 years. According to the Directors Guild of America’s 2015-6 Episodic Diversity Report, of the 4,000 television episodes created this season, only 17% were directed by women. In the 2016 award ceremony, only one quarter of the nominations in writing, directing, editing and producing were granted to women (Chancellor). Compared to the Academy Awards, the Emmys have plenty of women nominees. In all of the Oscar’s history, only 4 women have been nominated for Best Director and there has never been a female nomination for Best Cinematography (Bernstein). Comparatively, the Emmys nominated 4 women for directing awards this year alone (Emmys). Although the Emmys seem to be representing more women in the TV industry, there is still is a large disparity between men and women nominees and changes still need to be made within the industry to decrease this gap.
In addition to the Director’s Guild of America, young women also commented on the lack of women behind the scenes and took notice of the disparity in gender representation. Riley Rudy, a sophomore at the University of Southern California, attended the this year’s Primetime Emmy Awards and also recognized the lack of women represented in these categories. Double majoring in acting and filmmaking, Rudy who was not attending the event with the intention of taking note of the gender gap, noticed how few women were nominated for cinematography, writing and directing awards. When asked, Rudy didn’t blame the Emmys for the lack of women nominated, she cites the industry as the root of the problem. When asked if the lack of women nominated affected her view of the Emmys, Rudy said “it didn’t make me view the show differently, it made me view the industry differently. I don’t think the show doesn’t want to nominate women, I think the opportunities for women are few in the entertainment industry!” (Riley Rudy, 19, student). The amount of women creators, directors, writers, producers and editors have increased very slightly in the last decade. In 2006-7, women comprised 26% of all behind the scenes employees of broadcast network, streaming and cable programs. In the last ten years, that percentage has only increased by 1% (Lauzen).
Although the improvements to gender diversity in directors, writers and producers seems slow and almost stagnant, not all hope is lost. Many people are noticing the lack of women behind the scenes as a trend and are working hard to improve the situation. According to the Directors Guild of America’s 2015-6 Episodic Diversity Report, 3 series who had very few female representation in the past have made dramatic improvements to diversifying their staff. Some shows with the greatest gender diversity improvements include Sleepy Hollow, Marvel’s Agent Carter, K.C. Undercover and Last Man Standing. The latter had the most staggering improvement. Last year, only 41% of Last Man Standing directors were women and this year 73% of the show’s directors are women according to the DGA’s report. Thankfully the number of women working behind the scenes are on the slow rise and give hope to young women aspiring to be cinematographers, directors, writers and producers. According to Dr. Lauzen’s research, the number of female producers working on a broadcast network has increased from 38% on 2014-2015 to 39% in 2015-2016. Although this may seem like a small improvement these small changes add up. Dr. Lauzen’s research shows that the number of female broadcast producers has increased to 39% in 2015-2016 from 29% in 1997-1998 (Lauzen). It is these improvements to the TV industry that make young women like Rudy want to continue studying TV and film. When asked if she is discouraged by the numbers Rudy said she wants to “pursue film even more because I feel more women need to share their voice and I want to be apart of that!”
Bernstein, Paula. “5 Shocking Statistics about Gender Inequity and Academy Awards.” IndieWire. N.p., 27 Feb. 2014. Web. 20 Sept. 2016. <http://www.indiewire.com/2014/02/5-shocking-statistics-about-gender-inequity-and-academy-awards-29520/>.
Chancellor, Cristal Williams. “Women Underrepresented in Behind-the-Scenes Roles in 2016 Primetime Emmy Nominations.” Women’s Media Center. N.p., 15 Sept. 2016. Web. 19 Sept. 2016. <http://www.womensmediacenter.com/press/entry/women-under-represented-in-behind-the-scenes-roles-in-2016-primetime-emmy-n>.
“DGA 2015-16 Episodic Television Diversity Report – Minor Improvement in Employer Hiring of Women and Ethnic Minority Directors.” Director’s Guild of America. N.p., 12 Sept. 2016. Web. 21 Sept. 2016. <http://www.dga.org/News/PressReleases/2016/160912-Episodic-Television-Director-Diversity-Report.aspx>.
“Emmy Nominees/Winners.” Television Academy. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Sept. 2016. <http://www.emmys.com/awards/nominees-winners/2016/outstanding-directing-for-a-variety-special>.
Lauzen, Martha M., Dr. “Boxed In 2015-16: Women On Screen and Behind the Scenes in Television.” The Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film (n.d.): n. pag. Sept. 2016. Web. 19 Sept. 2016. <http://womenintvfilm.sdsu.edu/files/2015-16-Boxed-In-Report.pdf>.
N.d. Web. 20 Sept. 2016. <https://witnewyork.wordpress.com/2016/03/14/behind-the-scenes-the-lack-of-women-working-on-film/>.
Interview: Riley Rudy, 19, student