Streaming programs are more likely to feature female lead characters

(CNS) – Original programming on streaming services featured women as half of all its main characters, closely mirroring the proportion in the general population, a report released Tuesday by the University of ‘San Diego State, Martha Lauzen.

Lauzen, executive director of the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film at SDSU, released the 25th edition of the report “Boxed In: Women On Screen and Behind the Scenes on Broadcast and Streaming Television in 2021-22,” which follows the gender and racial makeup of over 3,000 streamed and broadcast characters.

The data revealed that women made up 50% of main characters in streaming programs and 48% in broadcast network programs over the past year. Streaming programs also had a slightly higher percentage of female characters in speaking roles than broadcast programs at 47% versus 45%.

“As in the past four years, streaming programs feature more major female characters than broadcast programs,” Lauzen said. “Half of the main characters in streaming programs are girls and women, which approximates their numbers in the real population.”

According to the research, broadcast network programs had higher percentages of black (28%) and Latino (7%) female characters in lead roles than programs on streaming services – which were 21% and 3, respectively. %.

The streaming programs included a higher percentage of Asian and Asian American female characters than those on the broadcast networks — 15% versus 10%.

Even with increasing representation of gender and race on television, increasing age is still negatively correlated with screen time. Around the age of 40, female characters begin to disappear in substantial numbers from broadcast and streaming programs, Lauzen found.

In programs broadcast, the percentage of adult female characters fell from 42% in their 30s to 15% in their 40s. Similarly, on streaming programs, the percentage of adult women fell from 33% in their 30s to 14% in their 40s.

“As women in the real world reach their 40s, they gain personal and professional power, but it’s precisely at this age that the number of women in television and film dwindles,” she said. “The majority of media images normalize regressive ideas about gender and age, valuing women for their youth and beauty and men for their accomplishments.”

Behind the camera, streaming programs employed higher percentages of women than broadcast network programs, with women accounting for 37% of those working in key behind-the-scenes roles on streaming programs, but 31% on television programs. broadcast network. Women accounted for 29% of directors working on streaming programs, but 18% on broadcast programs.

In 2021-22, “Boxed In” tracked over 3,000 characters and 3,800 behind-the-scenes credits. Over the past 25 years – from 1997-98 to 2021-22 – the study has tracked over 53,000 characters and 66,000 behind-the-scenes credits.

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