(From left: Shonda Rhimes, creator of Grey's Anatomy and Scandal; Jenji Kohan, creator of Orange Is the New Black; and Lena Dunham, creator, writer, and star of Girls.)
On Monday, Aug. 25, the most talented people in television will attend the 66th Annual Emmy Awards, and the luckiest and most skillful of them all will accept awards for their hard work during the 2013–2014 season. But the chance you'll see many women taking the stage to accept statues is slim.
The Women's Media Center crunched the numbers — and only 26% of this year's Emmy nominees are women. Outside of gender-specific categories like Best Actor in a Drama Series, Best Actress in a Comedy Series, etc., the WMC reports that women were nominated 369 times out of the 1,406 total nominations in 72 different categories, as opposed to the 1,037 times men were nominated.
"This is the third year I've done a gender count of the Emmy nominees, and overall, the ratios haven't changed much," Rachel Larris, WMC's communications manager, told BuzzFeed. "Looking at all the names in all the categories, women made up only 26% of the nominees this year and it was the same last year."
In 2013, the WMC's study yielded extremely similar data — women made up 26.5% of Emmy nominees last year. After another year in television, there has not been a shift toward a more equal playing field for women. (And, if we're being picky about it, it's gotten slightly worse.)
According to the WMC's 2014 data, there were also 16 Emmys categories that failed to include any women at all — and this is the third consecutive year in which women were entirely absent from 16 categories.
"The one category I particularly like to pay attention to every year is the award for Outstanding Writing for a Variety Series," Larris said. "Because this is a category for shows with a lot of writers and, even on the night of the Emmys, you can see just how unbalanced the writers' rooms are because they usually have a clip with all the writers together."
For the second year in a row, The Colbert Report came away as the winner of Best Writing for a Variety Series. Meredith Scardino is the only female writer listed on the show's team of predominantly white men.
The Writers Guild of America, West (WGAW) published its 2014 Hollywood Writers Report in June 2014 — titled "Turning Missed Opportunities Into Realized Ones" — that also revealed equally jarring data about the role of women and minorities working in the television industry. According to the report, in 2012 women made up 27% of TV writers and were paid almost 92 cents for every dollar that white men earned.
Just look at the late-night television host shuffle: After David Letterman announced his retirement from The Late Show, CBS chose Stephen Colbert as his replacement, a decision that mirrors a series of other recent late-night adjustments at NBC, which chose Jimmy Fallon to replace Jay Leno on The Tonight Show and Seth Meyers to take Fallon's place on Late Night. Late-night television is extremely white and male dominated, and many hoped CBS would choose a woman or person of color to replace Letterman, but these recent changes show that network television isn't taking the risk to diversify after 11:30 p.m. anytime soon.
While the gender disparity in Emmy nominees is apparent, so is the lack of diversity overall. The tiny number of Emmy nominees is reflective of the lack of diversity in the television industry as a whole, which was made even more obvious when The Hollywood Reporter published a story on Friday, Aug. 22, titled "From All in the Family to Breaking Bad: 24 Legendary Creators Gather to Share Secrets From 53 Years of TV."
The publication received backlash when readers discovered that all 24 creators featured were white and all but one were men. "I'd LOVE for some more women to win these trophies," THR's Lacey Rose, who co-wrote the story, tweeted in response to the criticism. "Sadly, this is a reflection of Emmy reality."
"The shows nominated for awards are ideally reflecting what the industry believes are the best shows on television," Larris told BuzzFeed. "Even if there are differences of opinion about who should get the top honors, if year to year there is always a shocking imbalance of women nominees, I think that does say something about the industry as a whole."