In front of the camera and behind it, women in television have a long way to go before their numbers equal those of men.
Not only are there far fewer women than men in virtually every aspect of TV production, but the depiction of women in prime-time programs perpetuates a stereotype of half-clad, half-brained creatures.Those findings highlight an 81-page study titled "What's Wrong With This Picture?" released Friday by Women in Film, a Los Angeles organization, and the National Commission on Working Women, which is based in Washington, D.C.
The yearlong study examined 80 prime-time programs on the ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox Broadcasting Co. networks. It assessed 555 TV characters and the producers, writers and directors responsible for creating them.
"Women continue to fare poorly on television - both on screen and behind the camera - despite significant gains over time and some notable, but scattered breakthroughs," the study said.
"Male characters outnumber females in on-screen portrayals (especially dramas), and men producers, writers and directors greatly outnumber women in those jobs."
Specifically, the study found:
- Fewer than half of all television series characters are women, compared to 51 percent of the general population;
- Male drama characters outnumber women by almost two-to-one;
- Only three percent of female TV characters are over the age of 60, compared to 14 percent in real life;
- Men comprise 85 percent of television's producers, 91 percent of directors and 75 percent of writers.
Of the four networks, Fox had the highest percentage of women producers, writers and directors, with 26 percent, 33 percent and 12 percent, respectively.