This one statistic spells trouble for the future of women in TV

The Director’s Guild of America released its TV diversity statistics this week, and they’re not looking too good.

Of more than 3,900 episodes produced in the 2014-2015 television season, only 16% of directors were women, and only 18% were of minority ethnicities.

The numbers become even more troubling when you look at the diversity statistics for first-time directors, which predict diversity over time. The percentage of female first-time directors dropped from 20% to 16%, and the percentage of minority first-time directors rose by just one percentage point, also to 16%.

First-time directors diversityDirectors Guild of AmericaDiversity among first-time directors of television episodes

A full 10% of all series examined had no women or minority directors whatsoever. The most high-profile are “Boardwalk Empire,” “Masters of Sex,” and “Ray Donovan.” “It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia” hasn’t hired a single female or minority director for any of its 115 episodes since it began production a decade ago.

In its 197 episodes since 2005, “Supernatural” hired two women and three minority men to direct. The DGA did commend several shows for their commitment to hiring minority directors — the most prominent of which include “Veep,” “Empire,” “Homeland,” and “Modern Family.”

Six series from subscription video services, like Netflix and Amazon, earned spots on the DGA’s “worst of” list, for television shows that hire people who aren’t non-Caucasian males as directors for fewer than 15% of their episodes. This indicates “that new platforms may be carrying through the same hiring practices as traditional television and cable networks,” according to the report, even though shows like Amazon’s “Transparent” and Netflix’s “Sense8” are receiving critical acclaim for their diversity.

Only 3% of all episodes were directed by minority women. Caucasian males retained the same slice of the pie as last year, directing 69% of all episodes.

DGA diversity pie chartThe Directors Guild of AmericaBreakdown of the diversity of TV show directors

On a lighter note, there’s an interesting tidbit from the DGA report that’s buried in a footnote. The percentage drop for minority males — from 17% to 15% — can be credited to Tyler Perry.

“It should be noted that there was a 3% increase in the hiring of minority males in the 2013-14 season that was entirely attributed to the high number of episodes directed by a single director: Tyler Perry,” the report says. “Perry directed 54 fewer episodes in the 2014-15 season, contributing to a 2% reduction in the number of episodes directed by male minorities.”

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