Women working behind the camera make up just 25% of 2015 Emmy nominations

September 20, 2015, 7:08 PM UTC
Photograph by Vince Bucci — Getty Images

The red carpet for Sunday’s 67th Annual Prime Time Emmy Awards will be swarmed with the many talented women who preform in front of the camera. But you’ll have to look a lot harder to spot the female TV writers, directors, and other women who run things behind the scenes.

Women make up a quarter of the writer, director, producer and editor nominees at this year’s Emmys—up slightly from a total of 22% of nominees over the past 10 years, according to a study from the Women’s Media Center. The report also finds that women made up 13% of nominees in all writing categories over the past decade, and just 8% of all directing nominees.

Female producers fare slightly better. Although there aren’t specific awards for producing, producers are nominated in a range of categories. Overall, women have made up 28% of producer nominees over the past 10 years. And they have actually accounted for the majority of producers honored for documentary filmmaking—a full 54%.

Here’s one reason it’s important to get these numbers up: A recent study found that when women are creators or executive producers of a show, they are more likely to put more women on staff. Indeed, there’s one shining example of this phenomenon this year: Amy Schumer’s show. Inside Amy Schumer, which has six female writers, is among the nominees for Outstanding Writing for a Variety Series.


Research has also shown that when shows are staffed with female writers, they tend to include more female characters. That may be part of the reason we’re starting to see more diversity among the female characters on the small screen; the Huffington Post reports that 15 of the 18 Emmy nominees for leading actress across the comedy, drama, and mini-series categories are women over the age of 35.

Of course, there are also male showrunners who recognize and promote female talent. Another show that’s credited with boosting women’s representation at the Emmys is Mad Men, created by Matthew Weiner. While the category of Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series has traditionally been a tough one for women to crack, with just 15 female nominations in the past ten years, 11 of those nods were for women writing for Mad Men. Peggy and Joan would be proud.

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