The Directors Guild of America (DGA) issued the results of an annual survey of the gender and ethnic diversity of directors who received their first breaks in episodic television. The study demonstrates that on the whole women and minorities continue to be overlooked for first-time TV directing roles.
In the 2015-16 season, 153 directors who had never worked in episodic television were hired by employers. 15% of those directors were ethnic minorities, and 23% were women. Over the past seven seasons, the hiring of minority first-time TV directors has remained flat over the past seven seasons, and while there was a slight upward trend in the hiring of women first-time directors, it has fluctuated within the same range since 2012, i.e. in the last three years alone, hiring of women first-time TV directors fell from 23% to 16%, then rose back up to 23%.
The DGA study notes that the small group size indicates that the data will be more sensitive to fluctuation, but in aggregate, it reveals that 81% of all first-time episodic directors during the seven-year span were male and only 19% were female, and 86% were Caucasian while just 14% were minority directors.
Bethany Rooney, co-chair of the DGA Diversity Task Force says that, “to change the hiring pool, you have to change the pipeline.” She also says that if employers “were serious about inclusion, they would commit to do two simple things: First, look around and see that there’s already a sizable group of experienced women and minority directors ready to work and poised for success – and they would hire them. And second, they would more carefully consider these first-time directing jobs, and develop merit-based criteria for them – with an eye toward director career development. In the end, it’s all about who is a good director.”
The report this year precedes the DGA’s annual TV director diversity report, covering the 2015-16 season, which will be published later this summer.