Directors Guild of America. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons
Directors Guild of America. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Minorities and women continue to lag behind their white male counterparts among first-time television series directors, continuing a pattern that has lasted for at least seven years, according to a study released Wednesday by the Directors Guild of America.

Women showed a slight gain, representing 23 percent of first-time directors during the 2015-16 season, according to the report. That’s up from 16 percent the previous season.

Hiring of first-time minority directors, however, remained generally flat at 15 percent in 2015-16, down slightly from 16 percent the previous year.

“To change the hiring pool, you have to change the pipeline,” said Bethany Rooney, co-chair of the DGA Diversity Task Force. “Year after year when we put out our TV director diversity report, the media and public are stunned that the numbers remain virtually the same.

“But how can it change when employers hand out so many first-time director assignments as perks?” she said. “if they were serious about inclusion, the 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.”

The DGA report on first-time directors was released in advance of the guild’s annual TV director diversity report, which is due out later this year.

The report noted that the overall number of first-time directors each season is relatively small — just 99 in 2009-10 and 153 in 2015-16. Guild officials note that with such numbers, even a small change in the hiring figures can have a big change in the percentages.

Over the past seven years, only 19 percent of first-time television directors were female, and only 14 percent were minorities.

–City News Service 

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