Study On TV Writing Finds Inclusion And Equity Disparities Continue For Historically Underrepresented Scribes


The Think Tank for Inclusion and Equity (TTIE), in partnership with The Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, released Behind the Scenes: The State of Inclusion and Equity in TV Writing, a report examining the state of inclusion and equity in television writing.

With the goal to identify the barriers to entry and career advancement for historically excluded writers, as well as obstacles to authentic, inclusive, and responsible storytelling, the report looks at how these persistent barriers and seismic shifts in the industry (e.g., the rise of streaming platforms, the proliferation of mini-rooms, the impact of a global pandemic) affect hiring and, ultimately, storytelling on a profound level.

A survey, designed to evaluate TV writers’ experiences across all demographics, genres, career levels, and paths within the United States, was conducted. The survey was distributed via an anonymous link through official TTIE communication channels, including the organization’s website, social media, and newsletter. It was also sent directly to industry groups with language requesting they share the link with their networks and/or members.

With 876 respondents completing the survey, all levels of writers were included with two focus groups held: one for lower- to mid-level writers and one for mid-level to upper-level writers.

The research focused on several aspects of writing work, including inclusion, advancement opportunities, or lack thereof, and harassment.

Key takeaways from the report found that 81% of upper-level white writers with no prior management experience are contracted to showrun their development projects, compared to only 67% of upper-level BIPOC writers who do have management experience, and that 67% of the survey respondents who were harassed said their showrunner was the perpetrator

Free work, something many writers are asked to do, was addressed as well, with the findings concluding that BIPOC men (75%) and all women (70%) did this unpaid work at higher rates than white men (58%).

The reports also contains actual quotes from writers about disparaging things that have happened to them in the writers room and when they asked for help resolving issues.

To improve access and equity, the report lists specific actions for Networks/Studios/Streamers/Production Companies, Showrunners, Agents/Managers, and Guilds/Unions to take going forward.

These include:

· Pay historically excluded writers for development and greenlight more of their projects to series.


· Empower experienced historically excluded writers to run their own shows, especially taking into account transferable skills (e.g., prior management experience).

· Create a widely accessible training program for new and experienced showrunners and co-executive producers that includes both traditional management skills and guidance on running diverse and inclusive writers rooms.

· Institute third-party confidential exit interviews with every writer to help identify unsafe work environments and remove bias and/or discrimination in the hiring/firing/rehiring process.

· Prioritize room-running, production, and post-production experience for writers at all levels to ensure they acquire the skills to run their own shows.

· Maintain Zoom and hybrid writers rooms to allow for better access, especially for Deaf and Disabled writers and writers from low-wealth and low-income backgrounds.

The complete report can be found here.

To reach “The Think Tank for Inclusion and Equity (TTIE),” please go to this site,

To learn more about “The Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media,” please click here.


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