EQUITY ON DEMAND: The effects of the rise of online television on the employment of women writers for Subscription Video on Demand (S.V.O.D) scripted fictional series.
Over the past decade, women accounted for fewer than 30% of fictional series television writers in the US and the UK. The advent of S.V.o.D. (subscription video on demand) ‘television’ such as original series produced by Netflix and Amazon Studios offer a new production model in which fictional scripted series television become more flexible in length, content and production process. Commissioners claim to be seeking the appearance of new voices, with series such as Transparent, Orange is the New Black and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt bucking trends, addressing contentious subjects and showcasing variety in writers’ voices. Still, despite this renaissance, women television writers remain far outnumbered by male counterparts. Until now, no research has been conducted into the effects of the S.V.o.D. original content production market on the employment of women writers for scripted series. This research, therefore, monitors the employment patterns for writing staff of scripted series made specifically for S.V.o.D. providers using data coding from series writing credits, and primary interviews with production executives and women writers about gendered hiring practices, career barriers and the professional experience of women writers for scripted series S.V.o.D. television. This research will focus on gender disparity in writing for scripted series television, and the ratio of women to men in series writing credits for made-for-S.V.o.D. scripted series to date. Case studies of series including Orange is the New Black, GLOW and Jessica Jones will be used to illustrate the changing face of series writing credits.
Data collection will take place in two ways. Firstly, S.V.o.D. series credits will be logged to ascertain the number of writers on each series’ writing team who are women*. This will allow for the calculation of percentage and numerical totals of women writers on teams, and for the identification of any changes/improvements in those numbers across the period of the study.
The second data collection phase is interviews with women writers for S.V.o.D, and with production executives who make hiring decisions about writers for television. These interviews aim to identify the working experience of women writers: how they enter the industry, how they experience working in a group or alone, whether motherhood or care-giving has impacted on their career, and whether they have experience sexism in the workplace. These firsthand accounts will give information that can’t be identified by numbers alone. What is it like to be a woman writer for television?
If you are interested in taking part in the research, please fill out the form below to request an interview information pack if you are:
- A woman writer for S.V.o.D. television
- A production executive for scripted series television
Your time is valued, and the research could take as little as 45 minutes of your time, from the comfort of your home/garden/office. If you are in the U.K., I can travel, and, if you are not, we can arrange a Skype time that suits you.