DGA: Dearth of Women in TV Directors’ Chairs

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Photo Source: Bill Gray; Ali Goldstein/NBC

As the number of women producing and creating television series has increased, the director’s chair remains a solidly male domain.

According to a new report by the Directors Guild of America, white males directed 73 percent of episodes in the 2011–12 network television season and the 2011 cable television season, while white females directed 11 percent. To reach its findings, the DGA analyzed more than 3,100 episodes from more than 190 scripted television series.

It catalogued a 1 percent increase for men from its previous study, while overall the number of female directors remained static.

Moreover, the DGA found that minority males directed 13 percent of all episodes and minority females directed 4 percent of all episodes. In the one-hour-series category, white males directed 76 percent of all episodes, and in half-hour series, white males directed 69 percent of all episodes.

That was a 1 percent increase from 2010–11 and a 5-point jump from the late 1990s, when women occupied 21 percent of those jobs. As the fight for equality behind the scenes continues, the DGA singled out several of the worst-offending shows that failed to hire a single female or minority director in 2011–12. Among those was HBO’s “Veep,” whose Julia Louis-Dreyfus won the Emmy Award for best actress this year, and the CW series “Supernatural.”

Among the best for female and minority directors was NBC’s “30 Rock,” which is executive produced by Tina Fey, and BET’s “The Game,” which had female or minority directors for 100 percent of its episodes, according to the DGA.

“I can tell you that increasing director diversity is as simple as hiring more women and more people of color,” Lesli Linka Glatter, co-chair of the diversity task force of the DGA national board, said in a statement.

“It’s time that every producer, every showrunner, every person responsible for making hiring decisions in episodic television take a careful and honest look at their hiring practices and ask themselves how they can do better.”

The DGA’s findings were released on the heels of a report by San Diego State University’s Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film, which found that women comprised 26 percent of all series creators, directors, writers, producers, executive producers, editors, and directors of photography on prime-time broadcast television programs during the 2011–12 season.

“When you get more women working behind the scenes, you get more women onscreen,” Martha Lauzen, author of the San Diego State study, recently told Backstage. “People tend to create what they know.”