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10-Year Study Reveals Women in Key Roles Make Up Less Than a Quarter of Emmy Nominees

10-Year Study Reveals Women in Key Roles Make Up Less Than a Quarter of Emmy Nominees

At the Emmys this Sunday, women writers, directors, producers and editors will make up a quarter of the nominees for TV’s highest honor. 

That 25% is a slight improvement over the last ten years, during which female creatives in those key roles made up 22% of nominees, according to data out from the Women’s Media Center. “Out of all the nominees nominated in 44 writing, directing editing, and producing categories over the past decade, 2,074 of them were women, representing only 22 percent of the total,” the WMC observes in a press release. 

The numbers on how many women run the small screen are significant not only in terms of recognizing female contributions to television, but also because more women in charge means more women employed behind and in front of the camera

Julie Burton, President of the Women’s Media Center, noted, “If more women were hired as writers, directors, editors, producers, and especially as creators and executive producers, the talent pool for nominations would be more reflective of the overall population and audience — more than half of which are women.”

She added, “These are key behind-the-scenes roles, and the men and women in these 
roles have the power to decide and mold what the story is, who is in the story, and how the story is told. This is crucial to making sure women’s experiences, perspectives, voices, and images are part of any story. Clearly there is a connection between the broadcast, network, cable, and Netflix programs that hire exclusively male creators and the industry-wide gender divide. When there are few jobs for women, it is easy to see why so few women in non-acting categories are recognized for their excellence.”

The report singled out “Mad Men” and “Inside Amy Schumer” for their many female writing nominees and “Breaking Bad” for its high number of women editing nominees. Unsurprisingly, female directors thrived in the documentary field. 

Here is WMC’s summary of its study: 


  • From 2006 to 2015, women made up 13 percent of all the nominees in six writing categories, earning 171 nominations to 1,103 for men.
  • The addition of “Inside Amy Schumer” as a nominee to the category of Outstanding Writing for a Variety Series boosted the numbers.
  • In the category of Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series, women make up only 22 percent of nominees over the course of 10 years, but “Mad Men” accounts for a significant portion of the women nominated.


  • From 2006 to 2015, women made up only 8 percent of all directing nominations, earning 116 nominations; men received 1,417.
  • During that period, only two women have been nominated for an award for Outstanding Directing for a Variety Series: Amy Schumer in 2015 for the episode “12 Angry Men Inside Amy Schumer” and Beth McCarthy-Miller in 2006 for an episode of “Saturday Night Live.”


  • In the past decade, women made up only 28 percent — or 1,640 — of the Primetime Emmy nominees in the 20 categories in which producers were nominated. Men accounted for 72 percent — 4,306.
  • By far, the highest concentration of women is to be found in the documentary film categories: Exceptional Merit in Documentary Filmmaking and Outstanding Documentary Or Nonfiction Special.
  • From 2006 to 2015, women have usually outnumbered men, 54 percent to 46 percent, in the Exceptional Merit in Documentary Filmmaking category.


  • From 2006 to 2015, women made up 18 percent of all nominees for editing awards, earning 147 nominations versus the 659 that went to men.
  • Only two of the editing categories showed progress in the number of women: Outstanding Single-Camera Picture Editing for a Drama Series and Outstanding Picture Editing For Nonfiction Programming.
  • In 2015, women represented 40 percent of the nominees for Outstanding Picture Editing For A Drama Series, boosted by the AMC show “Breaking Bad.”
  • From 2006 to 2015, women received the largest percentage of editing nominations for Outstanding Single-Camera Picture Editing For A Limited Series or Movie: 25 percent.

* The Primetime Emmy Awards do not have categories for producers, but producers are nominated in multiple categories.

Co-founded by Jane Fonda, Robin Morgan and Gloria Steinem, the WMC works to make women visible and powerful in media.

Read the WMC report in full

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