Kaitz Commentary – Charting the Contributions and Progress of Women in Media and Entertainment

During this year’s 91st Annual Academy Awards, women won gold statues in categories where they previously had not made inroads.  The progress we witnessed at the Oscars speaks to a larger trend of gains made by women in entertainment, as noted in UCLA’s 2019 Hollywood Diversity Report, produced by the UCLA College Division of Social Sciences. The report, currently in its sixth iteration is part of a series of annual studies produced by UCLA’s Institute for Research on Labor and Employment (IRLE) which explores relationships between diversity and the bottom line in Hollywood.

Though this year’s report draws from television and movie data from the 2016 – 2017 season, Dr. Darnell Hunt, co-lead author and dean of the UCLA College Division of Social Sciences says what we know for sure is that the number of women in key roles has nearly doubled from 2016 to 2017.  But the truth is that women’s representation still lags behind. Even with that increase, there were just 21 women directors among the 167 English-language films from 2017’s top 200, or just 12.6 percent of the total. And an early analysis of 2018’s top movies indicates the increase was just a one-year blip.

However, the gains in TV-related programming are even more striking according to the report, attributed mostly to the explosive growth of new digital technologies and the voracious appetite for content spawned by services like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime and other streaming services. And in the cable space, women made progress in categories such as cable scripted show creators, and leads in cable reality programs. “It’s clear the increased number of original programs alone has helped grow the share of the pie for minorities and women,” Hunt said.

Celebrating the unique contributions of women in the media, entertainment and telecommunications space is part of our mission at the Walter Kaitz Foundation. As the television and internet industry’s leading national foundation dedicated to advocacy around diversity, equity and inclusion, the Walter Kaitz Foundation provides resources and significant funding to key organizations that support vital programs and initiatives that furthers diversity’s impact.

In 2019, the Walter Kaitz Foundation is again focused on funding the industry’s seminal benchmark study on women and people of color.  We have again partnered with Women in Cable & Telecommunications on their PAR Initiative which, since 2003, has measured the status of women employees in our industry based on three main criteria: Pay Equity, Advancement Opportunities and Resources for Work/Life Integration.

The results of the 2019 PAR Survey, along with NAMIC’s AIM (Advancement Investment Measurement) research, will be released this Fall during Diversity Week in New York, where we will also host our 36th Annual Fundraising Dinner.

While both studies will benchmark the contributions women and people of color have made in our industry, it is even more important to look forward to what we have yet to achieve. We will help inform how we attain parity in terms of salaries, executive representation, board representation and standing in our society.

We certainly have much work ahead of us and we are ready to undertake that work.