WGA Report Sees Employment Parity for Underrepresented TV Writers ‘Within Two Years’

Tim Baysinger

The WGA’s latest inclusion report had both good news and bad news on Friday. While the WGA West argued that parity in employment for underrepresented TV writers could be achieved “within two years,” the guild said that “systemic discrimination” may be a bigger issue.

“If these trends continue, women and people of color could achieve parity in TV employment within the next two years.” the said. “In spite of this progress, systemic discrimination against writers from underrepresented groups remains pervasive in the entertainment industry.”

In each of the last four TV seasons, both groups increased their share of TV writing jobs, gaining 2% in the 2017-18 season, 3% in the 2018-19 season, and 5% in the 2019-20 season. But the report cautioned: “While both women and people of color made overall gains in the 2019-2020 TV season, these writers remain concentrated at the middle and lower levels with white men continuing to hold most of the high level positions.”

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The report highlighted the importance of not only hiring writers from underrepresented groups but placing them into positions of power, including as showrunners: Writers from underrepresented groups received 24% more script credits from underrepresented showrunners than from their white male counterparts, the report found.

In the 2019-2020 TV season, women held 44% of TV writing jobs, yet only received 39% of the episodic credits, while people of color held 35% of TV writing jobs, but received only 31% of the episodic credits.

How does that showrunner breakdown look? The WGA found that during this season, 70% of showrunners were male and 82% were white. While women and minorities have made 6% gains over the last two years, the WGA says it’s still far below the representation in the general population (which is 51% female and 40% minorities).

“Discrimination in the hiring of T.V. showrunners is not only wrong in and of itself – it also has a significant impact on inclusion and equity for the writers they supervise,” the report stated.

You can read the full report here.

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