March 5, 2010 Jill

Check out Where Have All the Women Gone? Long Time Passing in The Research Wrap Blog.  Pilot season has been especially unkind to women writers this year.  And the staffing situation isn’t much better.  Take at look at this chart included in the post:

Women Writers

What about cable?

Perhaps, I thought, cable would be a more receptive arena for women’s voices.  Was I wrong!  I decided to investigate 3 shows on USA, the number one rated cable network — “Monk,” “Psych,” and “Burn Notice.”  None, emphasis on none of these shows has ever employed a woman on the writing staff!  These aren’t blood and guts, male testosterone-laden shows; these are shows dependent on female viewers on a network that was run by a woman! None! Draw your own conclusions.

Is it any different here?  You tell me.

Comments (10)

  1. Elize Morgan

    Apparently that’s 26% of those rooms (not including cable), and probably being given a huge leg up with regard to Grey’s.

  2. Alex Golick

    The Wall Street Journal wrote an article a while back about ‘The Women Behind Mad Men.’ Seven of the nine members of the writing team are women.

  3. Athena

    Take note, everybody! Grey’s Anatomy leads the pack in percentage of women writers and in ratings!!!

  4. Carine

    Burn Notice has one female writer on staff now. Lisa joy – according to the White Collar Writers

    Hart hanson is complaining Bones is not featured on this list

    Drop Dead diva has at least 5 women on staff or had for season 1 at least.

  5. Flashman

    I’m not sure whether it’s more a chicken or an egg scenario, but I would think a big part of why there’s a gender imbalance in those shows has to do with the focus they have. Most of those shows have a male central character, and the two that have a female lead are female dominated writing rooms. Two and a Half Men is by design mostly about male experience, and many of those shows are also about industries with a male-centric gender imbalance, like policing. I don’t know the kind of biographical details that would confirm whether the gender imbalance is thus an attempt to hire people qualified to write about that material, though given how awful most of those shows are I suppose it’s mostly irrelevant. It’s possible that those shows have mostly male casts because of most male writers, but it’s also possible that they have mostly male writers because they have mostly male casts. There’s obviously not a direct correlation where each gender can only write characters of the same gender, but these numbers suggest that’s either a conscious or unconscious belief within the industry.

    Another question that comes to mind in examining the hiring decisions leading to male-dominated staffing is the proportion of male and female writers actually seeking those positions. It would be very interesting to see the numbers on that, as well as the quality level of the writers of both genders (I’m referring strictly to whether some of the issue is a lack of quality applicants, this is not to imply some kind of inherent gender based quality gap at all, especially given that Mad Men’s female-dominated room is producing essentially the best written show on TV).

  6. Cassie

    I can’t believe two and half men has a woman writer while NCIS has none. I’m not trying to make a point, I’m just saying, i thought it would be reverse.

  7. Ashley Nunya

    Not entirely sure when this was written, but I must point out an error here. In actuality, Criminal Minds has at least three female writers. Erica Messer, Breen Frazier, Oanh Ly, and Holly Harold are all full-timers on the show, last I read. And there were a few other scripts by women this year as well.

    And hell, if NCIS really has no female writers than I really don’t think they need one. I like their female characters a lot as is. Never would have guessed men and men alone were behind them. Makes me think a bit of As Good As it Gets (“I think of a man and I take away reason and accountability…”)

  8. Ashley Nunya

    Sorry, that should say four writers. I added Breen at the last second and forgot to edit…

  9. When I wrote the article for Studio System from which the list and the quote are taken, the point wasn’t really that there should be any specific percentage of women hired on these or any other shows; but that women (and minorities) bring perspective and that there is no reason to believe that only women can write for women or men can write for men.

  10. Matt

    Burn Notice also had a female writer on the show first season, Mere Smith. Lisa Joy was on the show in seasons three and four. So the only year in which the show had no female writers was season two. Not ideal, certainly, but it’s far from true that the show has never had a female writer.

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