More Disappointing News For Women At The Emmys

by Maitri Suhas

It really did seem like there was at least the whisper of the winds of change at this year's 67th Annual Emmy Awards when it came to women. Viola Davis made history by becoming the first African-American woman to take home the award for Best Lead Actress in a Drama, and two female directors, Jill Soloway and Lisa Cholodenko, smashed through the boys' club of directors to take home statues for Transparent and Olive Kitteridge (two shows themselves that articulate unique experiences in the lives of women). Then, you have Uzo Aduba, who became the first person to ever win an Emmy in Comedy and Drama for the same character. But a study released by the Women's Media Center that analyzed the stats of the 2015 Emmys for behind-the-scenes work in the categories of directing, writing, editing, and producing painted a bleaker picture of the Emmys.

According to the WMC, women unfortunately "represented only 29 percent of the winners from [Sunday] night’s 67th Primetime Emmy Awards in writing, directing, editing and producing" when analyzing 44 categories. The study proves what's been revealed time and time again, and in full-force in 2015: that women, and especially women of color, are not equally represented when it comes to hiring in Hollywood. The Emmys, subsequently, reflected that frustrating reality that the gender imbalance in Hollywood persists.

The WMC, an organization that "works to make women visible and powerful in the media," added the stats analyzing Sunday's Emmys ceremony to a previously released study that takes a critical look at nominations from the past 10 years. And the news, predictably, ain't good: from 2006 to 2015, in all the categories for writing, directing, editing and producing, only a nominal 22 percent were women. In comparison, then, this year's 29 percent percent of winners across 44 categories being women seems like a victory.

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And it is, but it also isn't. In their press release, the WMC followed up their depressing stats by congratulating and highlighting the victories that made history at Sunday night's ceremony, giving praise especially to Viola Davis and her electric speech, in which she called out the racism of the television academy. WMC president Julie Burton wrote: "[Davis'] acceptance speech spoke truth to power — it was heartfelt, powerful, important. Her win is an example of what women can achieve when given the opportunity." Though, of course Davis is in front of the camera, and How To Get Away With Murder is part of the Shondaland empire with an even amount of men and women executive producing.

It would be easy to list numbers that would make you, reader, feel sad. So I will, for effect:

  • Women represented 22 percent, or five, of the winners for writing from Sunday night’s awards. Men were 78 percent, or 18.
  • Women represented 12 percent, or five, of Sunday night’s winners in directing. Men were 88 percent — 36 men.
  • Women represented 34 percent — or 59 — of the producers who won at Sunday night’s awards. Men represented 66 percent, or 117.
  • Women represented 25 percent — or three — of the winners in the editing categories. Men were 75 percent, or nine.
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Yikes! That's not looking good. But it's even more reason to celebrate the women that were honored; Amy Schumer's sketch show beat out a bunch of dudes, Viola Davis and Uzo Aduba made history, and HBO's Olive Kitteridge, fueled and fed by women, and swept the awards. The fact that they represent a minority is a problem that needs to be acknowledged and addressed going forward. If there aren't women writing, directing, editing, and controlling the stories they tell, how will representation on television ever be achieved? Even though the Emmys did better this year in honoring women and diversity, they still have a long way to go.