A Familiar Story

11th August 2009 by Maura McHugh

The Writers Guild of America (West) has published the 2009 Hollywood Writers Report, called Rewriting an All-Too-Familiar Story?, which looks at the statistics regarding the employment of screenwriters in Hollywood broken down by gender, race and age.

What’s notable is that the percentage of women writing for film/television is not improving, and there is some evidence that their earnings are decreasing (these figures only go as far as 2007 before the current change in the economy). The situation among writers from a minority background has improved by a barest margin.

The following are some highlights from the report:

Women Writers’ Overall Employment Share Remains Largely Flat

Between 2003 and 2007, gains for women writers have not exceeded one percentage point in any of the employment areas. Women, who account for slightly more than 50 percent of the U.S. population, remain underrepresented in television employment by 2 to 1 and in film employment by nearly 3 to 1.

Earnings Gender Gap in TV

Women television writers earned about the same in 2007 ($82,604) as they did at the beginning of the five-year report period in 2003 ($82,000), despite spikes in earnings in 2005 and 2006. The television earnings of white male writers, by contrast, increased by nearly $4,000 over the report period (from $84,300 to $87,984), after peaking at $100,000 in 2005 and 2006.

Earnings Gender Gap in Film

The gender earnings gap in film for 2007 ($41,724) was the largest since at least 2003. Film earnings for women were down from the 2003 figure of $62,500 in 2005 ($50,000), 2006 ($55,500), and 2007 ($57,151). By contrast, the earnings of white male writers increased by more than $8,000 over the period, from $90,476 in 2003 to $98,875 in 2007.

White Males Continue to Dominate in Overall Earnings; Minority Earnings Approach Those for Women

Minority writers earned $87,652 in 2007, compared to $90,686 for women and $112,500 for white males. The $24,848 gap between minority earnings and white male earnings in 2007 represents nearly a $14,000 reduction in the $38,490 gap evident in 2005, the last year covered in the previous report. Meanwhile, the overall earnings gap between minority writers and women writers closed to its smallest point in 2007 ($3,034), which improved upon a much wider gap in 2005 ($12,868). Nonetheless, the overall earnings of white male writers significantly outpaced those of the other groups throughout the study period, reflecting the continuing dominance of white males in the industry

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