Over the last few days different media outlets have reported on the new Writers Guild of America study that details who exactly is finding employment in the entertainment biz:
The Writers Guild of America West has provided another downbeat outlook on employment for minority and female scribes in Hollywood.
"I wish we could say that we did not have to issue this damn depressing report," noted WGA West prexy Patric Verrone at a news conference Tuesday at guild headquarters. "This report has a familiar ring to it."
Darnell Hunt, author of the guild-commissioned "2007 Hollywood Writers Report -- Whose Stories Are We Telling?" asserted that the key findings show that "business as usual" practices aren't adequate to address the lack of diversity among writers. He noted that with more than 30% of America nonwhite, minorities held only 9% of TV slots in 2005, down from 10% in 2004...
The report also found participation by women writers had remained virtually unchanged in both small-screen and features, staying at 27% in TV and creeping up to 19% from 18% in films. And in the one bright spot in the report, women managed to nearly match men in average TV earnings, at $94,123 -- just $267 short of the male figure.
The same issues (and similar numbers) have vexed animation studios. When I walk through various facilities, I see way more men than women, and way more whites than any other ethnicity.
Directors and producers: 13.9% women (median age 45)
Writers: 10.3% women (median age 42)
Storyboard: 14.1% women (median age 40)
Development Artists (pre-animation): 17.0% women (median age 42)
2-D Artists: (animation and b.g.): 35% women (median age 42)
Tech Directors: 16% women (median age 37)
Checkers: 51.5% women (median age 46)
Not great numbers. You'll note that "Checkers", a technical job, has higher percentages. This is probably because checking was long affiliated with traditional ink-and-paint departments. Which were heavily female.
I don't think the low numbers are a reflection of skills and competency, although that argument is sometimes put forward. Years ago, a grizzled old novelist and screenwriter lectured me about how "women couldn't write good male characters and men couldn't write females."
The gentleman is long dead, but if he wasn't, I'd run to his nursing home and tell him he's pretty much full of crap. One of the more memorable male characters in film and/or literature is a dude named Rhett Butler. Margaret Mitchell would be surprised to learn that she didn't have the necessary skills to create him.