Women Aren’t Directing TV and Film

I recently read two recent articles about the dearth of women directors in high-end movies. According to one article about 2012 movies, “Women accounted for 9% of directors working on the top 250 films in 2012.” In a more recent one for 2013 movies, “women directed only 6% of the top 250 U.S. grossing films in 2013.” This is a drop of 3%! I wondered how women directors were fairing on television, so I did my own survey.

I picked several shows from TV Guide Most Popular TV Shows, including those ranked 1, 2, 3, 6 and 8, selecting one from each of the major TV stations, and also included “Bones” to get a show from FOX. These shows are all one-hour long dramas.

Ranked number one by TV Guide, “The Good Wife” (CBS) has been on for 5 seasons with 112 episodes. Of their 34 directors, 8 are women (23%). With 31 of their episodes directed by women, they ranked the highest in the percentage of episodes directed by women, at 27%.

“Scandal” (ABC), which has been on for 3 seasons, is the show with the highest percentage of women directors – 8 of their 20 directors are women for a whopping 40% – but they only used them in 21% (10 of 47) of the episodes, which puts them at second in my survey.

Although only one of their 19 directors is a woman (a dismal 5%), “Homeland” (SHO) has used her to direct 14% of their 36 episodes, which puts them in third place. They have been on for 3 seasons.

Even though it is ranked at 47, I included “Bones” (FOX) since it has been so long-running and is one of FOX’s top shows. “Bones” has been on for 9 seasons! It has shown 190 episodes, of which 20 were directed by women (10%). Nine of their 47 directors are women (17%), but they have failed to utilize them. In their defense, during seasons 8 and 9, their percentage of women directors has increased to 20%, but although they directed 20% of the season 8 episodes, they directed only 12% of the season 9 episodes. If you only consider the last 3 seasons, 9 of the 61 episodes were directed by women (15%); using this, “Bones” would rise to third place, ahead of “Homeland.”

HBO’s popular “Game of Thrones” comes in fifth in my survey. Only 4 of their 40 episodes (10%) were directed by their single woman director – she is one of twelve directors (8%) on the show.

Coming in dead last was “The Blacklist” (NBC). It’s only been on for one season with 22 episodes, and only one (4%) episode was directed by a woman. With a total of 15 directors, only 6% are women. This show comes in last in both categories.

Overall, the percentage of women directors for all these shows is 19%, but the percentage of episodes directed by women is only 16%. This is a small sample with a large margin of error, but it shows a disturbing trend in television show production.

Other television shows have similar percentages (see statistics below), with “24” (FOX) getting the rotten tomatoes on this, never having used a woman director in their 8+ seasons on the air.

I’m still looking for statistics on the overall numbers of women directing television shows, so it is still unclear whether they account for less than 20% of all directors, or if the top shows eschew women directors. More to come as I find the answers.

All statistics gathered from Wikipedia searches that include TV show episode information.

In this article’s statistics:

– The Good Wife (CBS) 5 seasons 112 eps 31 by women (27%) 34 directors 8 women (23%)

– Scandal (ABC) 3 seasons 47 eps 10 by women (21%) 20 directors 8 women directors (40%)

– Homeland (SHO) 3 seasons 36 eps 5 by women (14%) 19 directors 1 woman (5%)

– Bones (FOX) 9 seasons 190 eps 20 by women (10%) 47 directors 9 women (17%) (last 3 seasons 61 eps 9 by women (15%))

– Game of Thrones (HBO) 4 seasons 40 eps 4 by women (10%) 12 directors 1 woman (8%) 

– The Blacklist (NBC) 1 seasons 22 eps 1 by women (4%) 15 directors 1 woman (6%)

Other shows not included in the article’s statistics:

– The Following (FOX) 2 seasons 35 eps 6 by women (17%) 11 directors 2 women (18%)

– Agents of Shield (ABC) 1 season 22 eps 3 by women (13%) 15 directors 2 women (13%)

– Castle (ABC) 6 seasons128 eps 12 by women (9%) 

– Sleepy Hollow (FOX) 1 season 13 eps 1 by women (7%) 10 directors 1 woman (10%) 

– NCIS (CBS) 11 seasons 258 eps 15 by women (6%) (last 3 seasons 72 eps 7 by women (10%))

– 24 (FOX) 8+ seasons 204 eps 0 women (0%) OMG!

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