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Category: Art and Entertainment, Media, Media Monitoring

Emmy Winners Still Mostly Male

| September 25, 2013

We hope anyone still repeating the old stereotype that women aren’t funny watched the 65th Primetime Emmy Awards. Tina Fey and Amy Poehler were hilarious while heckling host Neil Patrick Harris. Lena Dunham was up for Best Comedy Actress, Best Comedy Series, and Outstanding Directing of a Comedy Series for her HBO show "Girls." At the same time, Tina Fey, Tracey Wigfield, and Gail Mancuso made history, marking the first year that women won in both the writing and directing categories for a comedy.

But after high-fiving over some well-deserved wins, it's still worth looking at the broader picture of the industry.  In the 69 non-performance categories, 171 of the winners were men and only 77 were women. Of course, this was predictable due to the gender ratios of the Emmy nominees or to anyone who pays attention to the faces behind the camera for more than just one evening. Historic "firsts" are important, but don't mean that television production is now suddenly gender-balanced.

To break it down more specifically, out of six awards given for writing, 23 people were winners but only four of those writers were women -- the aforementioned Tina Fey and Tracey Wigfield for "30 Rock," Abi Morgan for "The Hour," and Meredith Scardino, the sole female writer named for "The Colbert Report." And out of the six winners for directing, only one was a woman -- Gail Mancuso who directed "Modern Family."

To get a visual, just take a look at this picture from U.S News:

Photo credit Kevin Winter/ Getty Images

There were 17 people on stage from "The Colbert Report" accepting the Emmy for Outstanding Writing for a Variety Series, and only one was a woman. This was an epic win for "The Colbert Report," breaking "The Daily Show’s" 10-year victory streak. But, it wasn’t much of a break from the male-dominated culture of Variety Shows. In fact, this is a notorious category with only 10 of the 82 nominees this year being women.

The solution isn’t simply that the Emmys need to choose more women as nominees. A large part of the problem is that there are drastically fewer women in behind the scene roles in television. In fact The Women’s Media Center’s most recent report on the status of women in media found that in the 2011-2012 television season, only 30 percent of writers were women and only 11 percent were directors. In order for women to win more awards, more women need to get hired to work for top-tier television programs. As writer and producer Stephen Falk, most known for his work on “Weeds,” is quoted in our media guide, “If a show does not have female writers, it’s because the show runner did not look hard enough.” Funny, talented, and hard-working women are aplenty. Let them in.  They’re ready to make you laugh so loudly, the glass ceiling cracks.

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