Abysmal new diversity statistics for the TV industry highlight a big problem that the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has with the TV and movie industry.
The American Civil Liberties Union requested in May that federal and state governments investigate the Director’s Guild of America — a union representing film and television directors — for “the systemic failure to hire women directors at all levels of the film and television industry.”
A new survey from the Director’s Guild, which looked at over 3,900 episodes produced in the 2014-2015 television season, found that Caucasian males direct 69% of television episodes, and that 10% of television series have no women or minority directors at all. Furthermore, only 16% of directors were women, and only 18% were of minority ethnicities.
Martha Coolidge, a former president of the DGA, supports the ACLU’s call for an investigation of the underemployment of female directors, but told Deadline that the DGA isn’t at fault.
“Despite the fact that its members are primarily men, they have put a remarkable amount of effort into representing and promoting women and minority directors,” Coolidge told Deadline. “The DGA literally has nothing to do with hiring in this industry.”
In their letters to state and federal employment agencies, the ACLU noted that half of students focusing on directing in major film schools are women, yet their employment numbers continue to trail significantly behind men. Based on interviews with 50 female directors, it alleged discriminatory hiring practices are rampant in the movie industry.
Women directors are subjected to discriminatory practices, including recruiting practices that exclude them, failure to hire qualified women directors based on overt sex stereotyping and implicit bias, and the use of screening mechanisms that have the effect of shutting women out … It is widely known that some employers do not hire women directors. Women have publicly reported being told “we don’t hire women,” or “we tried [hiring a woman] once.”30 More than one award-winning film director reported to us she was told in a meeting that a particular showrunner “doesn’t hire women.” Another director said that producers and studio executives repeatedly told her agent “not to send women” for consideration for particular jobs. A third director was told by a network executive to avoid a show that was not “woman friendly.”
The DGA, for its part, counts only 12% of its members as women, and said it’s been advocating for fair hiring practices for years.
“The lack of network and studio action to hire more women and minority directors is deplorable,” the DGA said in a statement. “The DGA has been a long-standing advocate pressuring the industry to do the right thing, which is to change their hiring practices and hire more women and minority directors.”
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