Report: female screenwriters still lag behind male counterparts

Tina Fey, a cast member in "Muppets Most Wanted," is also creator/writer on "30 Rock" and wrote "Mean Girls."
(Chris Pizzello / Invision / Associated Press)

Following a predictable script, female film writers continue to lag behind their male counterparts when it comes to earnings and employment, according to a new survey.

In the film sector, women writers fell further behind their white male counterparts in 2012, accounting for just 15% of sector employment, down from 17% in 2009. Overall, women remained underrepresented by a factor of more than 3 to 1 among screenwriters, concludes the 2014 Hollywood Writers Report from the Writers Guild of America, West.

The report also found a widening gender gap between the earnings of female and male film writers. Female screenwriters earned 77 cents for every dollar earned by white male film writers in 2012, down from 82 cents in 2009, according to survey, the ninth in a series of semi-annual reports the guild has commissioned.


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Female television writers fared better, earning about 92 cents for every dollar earned by white males in 2012, up slightly from 91 cents in 2009.

But women remained underrepresented by a factor of nearly 2 to 1 among television writers employed during the 2011-2012 season, claiming just 27% of employment in that category.

Minority television writers posted an increase in their share of employment -- from 10% in 2009 to 11% in 2012 -- while closing the earnings gap a bit with white male television writers. Nonetheless, minority writers remain underrepresented by a factor of about 3 to 1 among television writers, the study says.

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And in the feature films category, minority writers accounted for just 5% of employment, unchanged since 2009.

“The good news is that, since the last report published in 2011, there appears to have been small gains for women and minorities in television employment and earnings -- though both groups still have quite a way to go to reach parity with their white male counterparts,” said the report’s author, Darnell M. Hunt, director of the Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies at UCLA and professor of sociology.

“The story for film, unfortunately, is not so good,” Hunt added in a statement. “Since the last report, there has been no progress for either group. Indeed, relative to white males, women and minorities have lost ground in the sector.”


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