Television writers' rooms are, for the most part, still currently dominated by bespectacled, plaid button down-wearing, ivy league educated (and often very nice) white dudes with names like Josh or Seth, but it looks as though that might be starting to change, like, a teeny tiny bit. At an excruciatingly slow pace, mind you.
New data released by the Writers Guild of America, West shows that women and minorities' rate of television employment is steadily on the rise, with minority writers' presence in the writers' room jumping from 7.5% to 15.6% between the 1999-2000 season and the 2012-2013 season. Before we get too excited about that paltry 8.1% jump, bear in mind that on 9% of TV pilots in 2010-2011 had employed writers of color and only 24% had at least one woman.
Amongst the shows celebrated for having the most diverse writing staffs were Grey's Anatomy, Criminal Minds, The Game, Single Ladies and Raising Hope.
As UCLA sociology professor and author of the report Darnell Hunt told the LA Times, "Despite pockets of promise, much more work must be done on the television diversity front before the corps of writers telling our stories look significantly more like us as a the nation."
"We can't tell the whole story if only half of us write it,'' adds WGA, West President Chris Keyser.
This seems like as good of an excuse as any to dig up that old interview from the AV Club, in which Community creator Dan Harmon talks about the value of a diverse writing staff:
There's the same percentage of genius happening in both genders, but there's less women writing scripts and out there looking for the job. So you dig a little extra-hard, and you end up with a staff that took a few extra meetings and a few extra shitty scripts to read. Now you have a staff that is just as good as the staff you would have had, but happens to be half women. And it seems like the greatest thing in the world, because the world is half women.
Of course, Harmon is talking strictly about hiring women, but I think the same could be said about all diversity. Different people with different experiences will bring different things to the writers' room. If tracking down writers with a wide range of backgrounds isn't worth your time, then you probably shouldn't be telling stories to begin with.