Boxed In: Employment of Behind-the-Scenes and On-Screen Women in 2012-13 Prime-time Television 

by Martha M. Lauzen, Ph.D.

Reprinted from Women In Film Copyright © 2013– All rights reserved.

For the last 16 years, this study has tracked women’s behind-the-scenes employment on prime-time television programs airing on the broadcast networks. Every few years, the study has also monitored the on-screen representation of female characters. This year the sample has been expanded to include original programming on basic cable channels (A&E, AMC, FX, History, TNT, USA), pay cable channels (HBO, Showtime), and Netflix programs.

The findings of the study are divided into two major sections. The first section reports the behind-the-scenes and on-screen findings for the broadcast networks, offering historical comparisons from 2012-13 with figures dating from 1997-98. The second section reports the behind-the-scenes and on-screen findings for the total sample of programs airing on the broadcast networks, cable, and Netflix.

The study examined one randomly selected episode of every series. Random selection is a frequently used and widely accepted method of sampling programs from the universe of television programming.

Findings for Broadcast Networks 

•During 2012-13, women continued their slow but incremental growth in key behind-the-scenes roles. Women comprised 28% of all individuals working as creators, directors, writers, producers, executive producers, editors, and directors of photography. This represents an increase of two percentage points from 2011-2012 and an increase of 7 percentage points since 1997-98  This is a recent historical high.

Overall, women fared best as producers (38%), followed by writers (34%), executive producers (27%), creators (24%), editors (16%), directors (12%),

and directors of photography (3%) (see Figure 2).

Women comprised 24% of creators. This represents a decrease of 2 percentage points from 2011-12 but an increase of 6 percentage points from 1997-98.

Women accounted for 27% of executive producers. This represents an increase of 2 percentage points from  2011-12 and an increase of 8 percentage points since 1997-98.

Women comprised 38% of producers. This is even with women’s representation as producers in 2011-12, and represents an increase of 9 percentage points since 1997-98.

Women accounted for 34% of writers. This represents an increase of 4 percentage points from 2011-12 and an increase of 14 percentage points since 1997-98.

Women comprised 12% of directors. This represents an increase of 1 percentage point from 2011-12, and 4 percentage points since 1997-98.

Women accounted for 16% of editors. This represents an increase of 3 percentage points from 2011-12, and an increase of 1 percentage point since 1997-98.

Women comprised 3% of directors of photography. This represents a decrease of 1 percentage point from 2011-12 and an increase of 3 percentage points since 1997-98. Boxed In • 2012-13 3

•43% of all speaking characters and 43% of major characters were female in 2012-13. This represents an increase of 2 percentage points from 2010-11, and is even with the historical high set in 2007-08 (see Figure 3).

•Programs airing on the CW featured the highest percentage of female characters (51%), followed by Fox and ABC (44%), NBC (41%), and CBS (39%). The CW was the only network featuring female characters in accurate numerical proportion to their representation in the U.S. population.

•Reality programs were more likely to feature female characters than programs in other genres. Females comprised 48% of characters on reality programs, 43% of characters on situation comedies, and 40% of characters on dramas.

•Female characters tended to be younger than their male counterparts. 30% of female characters but only 19% of male characters were in their 20s. 22% of male characters but only 14% of female characters were in their 40s.

•78% of female characters were white, 12% were African-American, 5% were Latina, 3% were Asian, and 2% were of some other race or ethnicity.

•Viewers were less likely to know the occupational status of female characters than male characters. 37% of female characters but only 30% of male characters had an unknown occupational status.

•Viewers were more likely to know the marital status of female characters than male characters. 47% of male characters but only 38% of female characters had an unknown marital status.

•When programs had no women writers, females accounted for 40% of all characters. When programs had at least one woman writer, females comprised 43% of all characters.

•When programs had no women creators, females accounted for 41% of all characters. When programs had at least one woman creator, females comprised 47% of all characters. Boxed In • 2012-13 4

Findings for Broadcast Networks, Cable & Neflix Programs 

•Women comprised 26% of individuals in key behind-the-scenes roles on programs airing on the broadcast networks and cable channels, and available through Netflix in 2012-2013.

•Women fared best as producers (38%), followed by writers (30%), executive producers (24%), creators (23%), editors (16%), directors (11%), and directors of photography (2%) (see Figure 4).

•Female accounted for 42% of all speaking characters and 41% of major characters.

•Female characters were most likely to appear on reality programs. Females comprised 44% of all characters on reality programs, 42% on situation comedies, and 40% on dramas.

•79% of female characters were white, 12% were African American, 5% were Latina, 2% were Asian, and 2% were of some other race or ethnicity.

•The majority of female characters (62%) were in their 20s and 30s. The majority of male characters (58%) were in their 30s and 40s. The percentage of female characters dropped precipitously from their 30s to their 40s. 34% of female characters were in their 30s but only 16% of female characters were in their 40s.

•Male characters were much more likely than female characters to be seen at work. Of those characters seen at work, 39% were female and 61% were male.

•Male characters were much more likely than female characters to be seen working. Of those characters actually seen engaging in work, 37% were female and 63% were male.


Report compiled by Dr. Martha M. Lauzen, Executive Director, Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film, San Diego State University, San Diego, CA (619) 594-6301


Aging In Adland

January 30th Advertising Age posted an article about ageism. Too late for the gray-hairs. I seem to recall everyone over 50 (maybe it was 40, but it seemed like 50 when I was 20) was fired for making too much money. Now it’s too much or not enough of something else.

I learned that lesson the hard way. Here’s my response posted to Ad Age just now:

Aging in Adland:

I worked in advertising at the big creative agencies on both coasts for more than 18 years. When I hit 40 and was living in L.A. at the time, an well known ad agency owner looked up from his desk and said “I wouldn’t hire you ever no how no way”. When I asked why he said, “I can get someone half your age to work twice as hard for half the money”. Now that was a slap in the head with a two by four, no doubt, not to mention illegal but he was only saying what they all thought and didn’t want to say. It took a recruiter to sit me down and explain ageism to me.

Ironically, it was only then that I realized the only way to keep working was to keep reinventing myself in the digital world. I got a lowly job in a think tank in the Venice CA tech hub. Once there felt about code the way once felt about film. I was a sponge for technology and because there was nothing but new ground to cover, pulled out the stops, learned and accomplished things I would have been prohibited from doing in the Agency world.

While I love my colleagues and value experience in the advertising world, digital technology was the trip I seized and am still on. I am an award winning blogger, a sponge for all things digital and a well respected electronic commerce marketing specialist. TOTALLY SELF-TAUGHT.
In this new industry there are no holds barred as long as you are willing to stick your neck out and hit the trail.

Elaine Palmer
Owner Maven Media New York
Blogging @ ExecutiveWomen2.0

FROM THE TRENCHES: Haggling For Dollars. What Would A Man Do?

I recently had a free lance writing gig and was hired by someone I already knew. Our relationship has always been strictly professional and yet, this is someone I’ve kept a friendly rapport with over some eight years. Though I wrote for his publications in the 1990’s, I never reported to him directly. So our friendship remained steady – albeit at a distance. He found himself pitching a huge piece of new business recently and asked me to work on it. I posed the usual questions about scope and time frame and of course salary.

When he asked what I would charge, I did some quick math and requested an hourly rate at my standard writing fee. When he replied that he didn’t have anywhere near that kind of money, I simply asked him to tell me what he did have. He quickly halved my number and I made the deal.

What actually transpired was I did twice the assessed work for half the fee. Very predictable as it’s never failed to go down like that in the past. The one difference was, this time I asked for the remainder of the fee I first named to be deferred to the award of the job – which is fairly likely. At that point, I was offered a job. A much better result than a one time fee. Or was it? A choice that was handed to me and, in some instances, I would not have necessarily accepted.

Why? The pros and cons of a future arrangement are: the job might not materialize, the job might materialize but not to my liking, I might be already be committed to another situation when and if the job does materialize. If I get the deferred fee: it’s cash in my hands, I feel satisfied that I was paid for the work performed and I get what I initially asked for. This proves to my possible future employer -should I work for him later on – that I drive a hard bargain and will likely do that in future negotiations with him and with his vendors.

Being tough-minded where money is concerned is a good thing to employers and especially employers who are men.

At the vanguard of emerging technology, Elaine Morris Palmer, has been a “free agent” of the new economy since the early 1990’s. Award-winning broadcast producer-cum-new-media industry-analyst, marketing strategist, journalist and communications specialist. Her digital media consultancy, Maven Media, is headquartered in New York City.

FROM THE TRENCHES: On Professionalism

FROM THE TRENCHES  is a new column. Please join the conversation._______________________________________________________________________

Once a colleague of mine in advertising said, “Whenever you hear the word ‘unprofessional’, you can basically insert the word ‘schmuck’ instead. I wonder about that. I don’t wonder that unprofessionalism is rampant out there.  And for the would-be  leaders among us, here are a few observations and suggestions from the trenches.

If you are asking someone to work for you and they represent an integral part of the work product, why not treat them with respect. There are certain protocols I’ve learned as a consultant who hires third party vendors and as a third party vendor myself. Here are some of them:

  • Educate yourself about their background and skills so that you don’t unintentionally condescend to overstate the obvious.
  • Give the consultant and his or her team your specifications as clearly and completely as possible. That means your internal communications should be clear and complete too. If there is a less than obvious objective for the assignment, make sure all the internal agreement about priorities is set before the specifications are handed out. Ideally, a printed spec sheet is given to all the bidders simultaneously, or at least each one gets the same date and time stamped information.
  • Make requests or changes in a timely way.  It’s not really to anyone’s advantage to wait until the day before a pitch or meeting to request substantive changes. Get your  ducks in a row. Make sure all the relevant decision makers offer their input to your company’s one outside link by a date certain and in plenty of time for your vendor to create the most successful and well-received presentation.
  • Make sure your vendor knows your team. This is important because we all want to know who we’re speaking to. We might make adjustments to a presentation with a better understanding of the audiences’ specifics. If your consultant is meeting important people on your staff or team, be sure they know each person’s background, proper title and current role in the project. Is your vendor dealing (especially on short notice assignments) with the decision maker so there’s a minimum of wasted work and time?
  • Give the consultant the correct address information and a contact phone in case of emergency. If possible, directions and even paid or, at least, pre-paid transportation to get the person there comfortably and in plenty of time to be pulled together and organized.
  • Greet and announce them in a timely way. Don’t make a visitor sit endlessly in a waiting room. Offer them a restroom key, a glass or water and be sure that all the parties are assembled. Start on time even if the entire team isn’t on time.
  • Be sure the meeting attendees are up to speed about the consultant’s credentials. After all, the consultant will have prepared for the meeting.
  • Have a meeting agenda prepared so everyone’s time is spent optimally.
  • See the person out. If you’re located in a remote location, make sure they have transportation back to their offices.
  • Be responsive. Make a point of letting your vendor/consultant know outcomes, decisions, even if they aren’t favorable. Either initiate a call or email or, at the very least, respond to theirs. No one likes to feel they gave a meeting their all and no one cared enough to even say, “Thanks for coming by. We’ll call you when we need you.”After all, professionalism is professionalism. And lastly,
  • Pay on time. Some vendors ask for money up front (either 1/3 or 1/2 depending on the lead time and length of the assignment). Now you can invoice and pay through PayPal or Google CheckOut. No fuss no muss. Don’t forget, these sites take a percentage for themselves on each transaction.

ANA presents: How to Build a Killer Marketing Plan – one day seminar

How To Build A Killer Marketing Plan

ANA Event

All Day Seminar, Sept 12, 2012 – “How to Build a Killer Marketing Plan”

Mastering the Three Giants, Marketing, Advertising, PR

Mastering the Three Giants   Confused about where to begin your product or service marketing strategy?
This short presentation will help define current marketing terms
and will assist you in getting a program up and going today!
Here is and excellent overview of the three important disciplines in getting your product or service word out to your target audience including
clear explanations, examples and helpful suggestions.

Please click on the link above to open the Power Point Presentation

Don’t Fret. Just Ask For What You Need.

Don’t Fret. Just Ask for What You Need.

Reprinted from The New York Times.

"Unfortunately,in the corporate world, ther is a narrower band of acceptable commuiction for women than for men. "

Lion or Pussycat?

Published: Sunday, July 10, 2011
“YOU can’t be afraid to ask,” my Uncle Art used to say when recounting tales of his successful 40-odd-year career selling mattresses up and down the Eastern Seaboard.

My uncle was talking about making the sale, but corporate types need to ask for what they need, too. This is especially true for women, who, in spite of an increase in diversity training, mentoring and sponsorship programs, still lag far behind men in reaching senior management and C-suite positions. In fact, in 2010, only 14.4 percent of the executive officer positions at Fortune 500 companies were held by women.

Whether from fear of being perceived as too aggressive or too selfish, women tend not to be comfortable asking for what they want. And when they do ask, it can be in ineffective ways.

Often, women’s speech is peppered with tentative and indirect phrases that scream a lack of confidence, such as, “I’m not really sure, but you could try it this way,” or, “Now, I’m not an expert, but …” or, “I think this is a good idea — do you?”

Many women have also adopted an upward vocal inflection at the end of sentences, a regrettable characteristic popularized by the Valley Girl. It turns a strong declarative statement into a question, conveying weakness, uncertainty and a request for approval.

In addition, and perhaps most important, professional women sometimes forget to build their case around the things that matter most to their employer — principally, the impact on the bottom line. That was true for one high-producing client of mine, who needed a more flexible schedule that would allow her to work from home one day a week.

While she knew she could make the change work seamlessly for her clients and her direct reports, she was still very reluctant to ask. She worried that her boss would demote her to part time and cut her salary.

After addressing her fears of the possible consequences, we went to work on perfecting her “ask.” We prepared a brief, clear account of why she needed to make this change and described how she could do her job without harming clients, colleagues or the bottom line.

The dreaded conversation with the boss lasted exactly 10 minutes. It was cut short the moment he told her: “I have no doubt we can make this work. In fact, if you should need to work another day at home, just let me know, and we’ll see how we can manage it.”

It just goes to show you: you’ve got to ask.

Another client, a managing director of an international investment bank, says women need to be bold and straightforward when stating what they need to achieve their goals.

“My 25-year career path has included several job changes,” she said. “And with each new job, there was always a male colleague who was responsible for introducing me around the firm. In every case, my cordial host would introduce me almost exclusively to women. I know they thought they were helping me, but, in fact, it was the introductions to the men I couldn’t manage on my own.”

She was quick to add that the “women only” introductions had nothing to do with trying to undermine her success. The men had simply assumed that she’d be more comfortable with other women.

But how will a business see a return on investment if women cultivate relationships only with other women? The answer is: It won’t.

From her previous experiences, my client had learned to ask for the help she needed. A few years back, when male colleagues welcomed her into the company with an offhanded yet well-meaning “Let me know if I can do anything for you,” my client knew exactly how to respond:

Introduce me to the top 10 people in the firm. Include me when you and the guys go out for dinner. Arrange a breakfast with the firm’s top traders, and let me introduce myself and my team. Count me in when the firm signs up for any corporate sponsorships. Invite me to your quarterly top-client events.

In addition to these requests, my client had the courage — some might call it the chutzpah — to schedule an appointment with the chief executive and tell him what kind of support she was seeking. When colleagues asked why she had gone to see the C.E.O., she told them: “The firm’s paying me a lot of money to do a great job. What C.E.O. wouldn’t want to help me do that?”

THE act of putting your stake in the ground — stating exactly what you want — is scary for most women. We worry that if we’re too direct, we’ll alienate the very audience we’re trying to win over.

Unfortunately, in the corporate world there is a narrower band of acceptable communication for women than for men. Even so, we can find ways to ask for what we need. Unfair as it may seem, women do have to be more attuned to the listener and more careful in determining the best way to say what needs to be said. But look on the bright side: for a gender with a propensity for zeroing in on the feelings of others, we’ve got a head start.

Peggy Klaus consults with executives and organizations on leadership and communication. E-mail:

Series: Q&A Leaders On Leadership

Q&A (unedited) On Leadership

Charles Michael Austin, Ed.D. (“Dr. Chaz”)  is President at Dr. Charles Michael Austin.  He is a Career Mentor, College Professor & Curriculum Designer at various colleges and universities in Southern California.

How important in the roster of leadership qualities are attitude, habit and discipline? What weight would you assign them?

I assume discipline is present – in any professional. And certainly in a leader.
Habit can – and usually does – have a downside. As in, “that’s the way we do things around here.”
Attitude is the key. Are you open to new ideas? Can you make course corrections as needed? Can you give credit to a subordinate for something you didn’t think of? Can you get your own ego out of the way? We’ve probably all had bosses who’ve said to us, “My door is always open.” Going for the bait, we’ve gone in to pitch a new idea, only to leave the office like a flat tire because of the boss/leader’s needed to dominate.

What others, in your opinion, are coveted qualities of business leaders?

A.  The ability to shut up and listen.
B.  Making the people that report to you feel valued for their contributions.
C.  Being crystal clear about what you want – and by when you want it.
D.  Perspective. Except for hospital emergency rooms, no one is going to die if a deadline is missed. But so many leaders behave as if it’s always a life and death situation. It’s not. If you can lighten up, it goes a long way towards making those who report to you feel safe. People are more likely to take risks if they feel safe.
E.  Allowing people to fail. If you’ve hired good people and let them do their jobs, they will occasionally screw up. There is no need to berate them. You’re not their mom/dad and they’re not your “bad” child. They’ll learn from their mistakes and probably not repeat them.

Do you think there is finally equality between men and women in the work place?

No. Things have improved, but we need to be continually vigilant. Sometimes it feels like the Womens’ Movement never happened. Look at the ongoing popularity of “laddie magazines.” We’ve reverted to objectifying women, and that sort of attitude no doubt spills over into the workplace. As Erma Bombeck said, “We’ve got a generation now who were born with semi-equality. They don’t know how it was before, so they think, this isn’t too bad. We’re working. We have our attache cases and our three piece suits. I get very disgusted with the younger generation of women. We had a torch to pass, and they are just sitting there. They don’t realize it can be taken away. Things are going to have to get worse before they join in fighting the battle.”

When most companies are tightening their belts and employees are not shaking things up, how much does risk taking (challenging the corporate orthodoxy) play a part in your advice for executives seeking to stand out in a corporation?

My advice is: don’t. Companies say they want “outside the box” thinking, but in practice they don’t. You want to take risks, start your own company.

Brevity is becoming a communications fact of life. When is brevity not such a good idea?
When it replaces genuine communication. Human beings are inclined to avoid confrontation. A quick tweet or text or email helps us dodge the uncomfortable face-to-face meeting where bad news needs to be conveyed. I think one of the things that has helped make me successful is that confrontation is one of my hobbies. I’ve always found that being direct with people deepens relationships. Not direct as in “you’re bad and wrong, and here’s why,” which is verbal vomiting that disempowers people. I’m talking about collaborative communication whose context is “what worked/what didn’t.” That takes it away from the personal attack, shifting the focus to problem solving.

You are a specialist in career development. What are the differences between setting a career path in your twenties and in your forties or even fifties?

Presumably, by the time you’ve hit forty, you’ve gained some wisdom and developed some sense of what your talents are and where and how you can make a contribution to others. My clients and students who are in their twenties very seldom have a career path. They may have a passion (or so they think), and my advice to them is to get to work in some capacity in their field of choice to learn where and how they fit.

The meta-conversation, though, is that most people do things in their careers that they never would have imagined in their twenties; that career choices are usually unplanned accidents or matters of serendipity. If someone would have told me in my twenties that I’d hold a Doctorate in Education and (among other things) be a college professor, I would have told them that they were crazy and that that would never, never happen. You need to be open to the unexpected.

What is one behavior or trait that you have seen derail more leaders’ careers?

Ego. “I’m the boss. I know best.”

Your Ed.D. dissertation discusses the inherent value of career coursework in higher education. What is your summary finding on planning for a career when college is often a place to “find ourselves”?

That’s both the subject of my dissertation and my book (to be published later this year).
Having some career direction by the time you graduate is part of finding ourselves. Unless you’re a trust fund baby, you’ll need to make money after you graduate (if only to start paying off your student loans). There’s enormous pressure on college students (from their parents, usually) to find “the perfect job,” and so many students have no clue what that might be – or even what they want to do.  So, just get to work. If it’s not what you (think you) love, then at least have it be something you’d like to do. Get started. Meet people. Learn things. Trust that you’ll find your way – and eventually discover you passion(s). That’s plural because most people in their twenties can expect to have five or six careers. So even if you do find “the perfect job,” there will most likely be others during your lifetime.

What expectation is realistic when it comes to setting today’s career path?

Corporate loyalty is dead. Everyone is a freelancer, and their own brand. People need to be trained to determine, articulate and sell that brand – for as long as they work. The sooner they start doing that, the better their chances of continuing to find work that’s satisfying – both creatively and financially.