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Television writers suffer from wide gap in wages

Sexism and racism may not be new on the scene, but the widening pay gap between white males and minority and female TV writers is, said WGA West’s newest report on scribe employment trends, as reported by Variety. In contrast, things in the world of film have improved.

Check out the statistics. For television, white males come in at a median of $9,400 higher than female writers, who, in turn, score $13,925 above writers of color. The numbers translate to the gap in wages growing 84 percent since the 2009 WGA report. For film, minority writers fared the worst, clocking in at a median of $55,653, whereas white males pulled in $76,517 and females $62,500. The earnings gap has more than doubled, totalling up to the greatest disparity in 10 years.

“White males continued to dominate employment opportunities and earnings in both the film and television sectors,” the report stated, as reported by Variety.

Things are only shaking up a little in terms of age. Writers between ages 41 and 50 represent the biggest section of scribes in the industry, and their employment stayed constant at 61 percent. Writers for television between 51 and 60 dropped a mere 1 percent, whereas those in the 61 to 70 range grew 1 percent.

To determine these statistics, the “Hollywood Writers Report: Recession and Regression” brought together employment data for writers from 2008 to 2009, breaking it down by wages by ethnicity, gender and age.

Darnell Hunt, director of the Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies and professor of sociology at UCLA, lead the team in writing the report.

“Diversity is not a luxury, not even in tough times,” Hunt said in a statement issued by the guild, reported Variety. “The Hollywood industry, in the final analysis, depends on increasingly diverse audiences and on the stories to which they can relate.”

The recent financial crisis is not helping matters, the report deduced.

“The road toward economic justice in America is a windy one, and progress has been most direct in good economic times,” the report stated. “As the nation grappled with the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, the few hopeful signs for women and minority writers discussed in the previous report either disappeared or seemed considerably less encouraging by 2009.”

The economy has certainly hit the film industry, with the number of produced movies in the United States decreasing from 909 to 677 between 2007 and 2009, a drop of 25.5 percent. Unemployment in this sector has also grown by a few percentage points.

WGAW intends to make the full report available sometime this summer.

Tagged in: film, gap, movie, tv, earnings, television, writers, report, gender,

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