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While the television writers' strike continues, not much has been said about the lack of women and minority representation on TV and behind the scenes.In an industry dominated primarily by white males, the statistics are alarming. According to a report released by the Writers Guild of America earlier this year, even though women represent more than half of the U.S. population, they have not made up more than 20 percent of industry employment. Minorities make up one out of every three people in the United States yet have been less than 10 percent of the industry's workforce since the study began in 1982. That means in Hollywood, women and minorities are outnumbered 2 to 1 and 3 to 1, respectively.
In terms of overall salary, white male writers have earned the most. Women continue to make less than men, and the earnings gap between white male and minority writers have reached a 15-year high.The TV representation of minorities isn’t faring too well, either. In late October, just a few days before the writers went on strike, a multi-ethnic media coalition consisting of Latino, Native American and Asian American organizations released a network “report card” for the major networks. (The NAACP is set to release its report in a few months.)The overall grades were based primarily on the representation of minorities on network programming and the diversity of their writers and staff. The American Indian media group didn’t give letter grades but in a statement said that its ethnic group “remains underrepresented and misunderstood in the 21st century.” FOX, ABC, NBC, CBS were all given Cs by the Asian American Justice Center, while the National Latino Media Council’s ratings fared a little better, with grades ranging from A- to B-.As writers try to get their residuals from new technology and the Internet, hopefully they will also consider addressing these gender and racial inequalities. That way marginalized groups have a chance to tell their own stories instead of having somebody else do it for them.-Akito Yoshikane