Annual "Boxed In" Report Shows Slow But Steady Improvements for Women in Television

As we all wait impatiently for the return of our favorite shows during that awkward gap between summer finales and fall premieres, the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film has released its annual report, “Boxed In”, and it turns out women have made some small but respectable gains in the TV industry this year.

On screen women accounted for 43 percent of all speaking roles and 41 percent of all major character during the 2012-2013 measurement period, a modest increase from the previous year. Behind the scenes, they now hold 28 percent of all jobs, from writers to directors to producers, up from 26 percent last year and 21 percent in the 1990s.

And if all of this sounds underwhelming, just consider the state of things over in movie land where women held less than a third of all speaking roles in top 100 films of 2012, and were wearing sexually revealing clothing 31.6 percent of the time they actually did spent on screen. Thanks but no thanks, I’ll stick with TV.

There are downsides to the "Boxed In" report, of course. Women of color lag well behind white women. They make up only 11 percent of directors and a measly 2 percent of cinematographers. It’s appalling, but unfortunately not surprising, especially when you consider that Kerry Washington is was the first African American woman to star in a network drama since 1974. (And when is Scandal coming back again? That long? Really?)

Also problematic is the fact that women on TV tend to be younger (62 percent are in their 20s or thirties while 58 percent of men on TV are in their 30s and 40s). In other words, women in television have an expiration date. Get old enough and the roles start disappearing.

On the whole, though, women are making slow but steady progress in the world of television. So go ahead and feel good about your television addiction and tell your pretentious cinephile friends that TV is better for women than their precious movies.

Now, when it comes to waiting for those fall premieres, there we can’t help you.