Photo: Mad Men (AMC)

One of the many things the Women’s Media Center does is collect data on gender inequality in the entertainment industry. That means every awards season the Center ends up sending out virtually the same press release about how sexist the industry (still) is. And just in time for this Sunday’s Emmys, the Center has released a comprehensive study of gender and Primetime Emmy nominations over the past 10 years (from 2006-2015). Unsurprisingly, it’s not great.

Outside of the acting categories, which are divided by gender, the Emmy nominations are woefully unbalanced: Women have received only 22 percent of the nominations for writing, directing, producing, and editing over the past 10 years. In real numbers, that means 7,485 male writers, directors, editors, and producers are able to add “Emmy nominated” to their resumes, while only 2,074 women can do the same.


Women have had the strongest presence in producing categories, where they made up 28 percent of nominees over the past 10 years. In directing categories, however, women account for a mere 8 percent of nominees—and even the most successful of them have trouble transitioning into more high-profile directing gigs.

The numbers for this year’s awards are on par with the 10-year average, and women make up only 25 percent of the writing, directing, producing, and editing nominees who will compete for Emmys this Sunday.


Of course, the problem isn’t that awards shows themselves are sexist, it’s that they represent the sexism in the entertainment industry. According to the Center, women made up only 26 percent of executive producers, 38 percent of producers, 26 percent of writers, 14 percent of directors, and 21 percent of editors in the 2014-2015 primetime season (i.e. the shows eligible for this year’s Emmys).

And Women’s Media Center president Julie Burton argues this inequality has a concrete impact on the types of shows getting made. She explains, “The men and women in these roles have the power to decide and mold what the story is, who is in the story, and how the story is told. This is crucial to making sure women’s experiences, perspectives, voices, and images are part of any story.”

But the report also draws attention to the shows that have done a better job diversifying than most. For instance, Mad Men accounts for a significant portion of the women nominated for Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series (women made up nearly half of the Mad Men writers’ room throughout the show’s run); the Documentary Filmmaking category (a producing category) is the only one in which women actually out number men (54 percent to 46 percent); and Breaking Bad helped boost women’s representation in the Outstanding Picture Editing for a Drama Series this year, where women represent 40 percent of the nominees.


The full report is available over on the Women’s Media Center website.