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photo: hollywoodreporter.comA Nielsen diversity report revealed just how big the representation gap is on television.
A Nielsen diversity report revealed just how big the representation gap is on television. Photo: hollywoodreporter.com

Women are the majority of the U.S. population, but are still underrepresented on its TV screens

TV stays stagnant when it comes to having more women on screen.

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On Dec. 3, the 2020 Nielsen’s diversity on TV study dropped and showed that women are only visible 38% of the time on American television. This runs counter to the overall U.S. population, which is 52% women, making them the majority.

The report is titled: “Being Seen on Screen: Diverse Representation and Inclusion on TV.” It was conducted by measuring minutes of on-screen time as a metric for inclusion. This differs from other diversity studies such as those done by GLAAD or UCLA because they are measured on the number of diverse actors, not their actual screen time.

2020 has been the year of fighting for representation, especially in media, and women have advanced in ways women decades ago wouldn’t consider in their wildest dreams. Still, they find themselves vastly underrepresented.

And the lack of representation is not in one or a few genres, it is across the board. 

Women appear the most in science-fiction, drama, comedies and horror shows and flicks.  For news, even though they were on screen for almost half of the time, it was still the genre where women were the least notable.

“Even with all the work that has been done to improve gender equity on screen — there are so many players that have done so much work — unfortunately, women are still underrepresented,” Stacie de Armas, the senior vice president of Diverse Insights told USA Today. 

Women in the industry over 50 appeared less than 8% off the time, even though they make up 20% of the population. For men over 50, they are 17% of the population, but were on screen 14% of the time.

When it comes to Latinas, underrepresentation extends even further. As a whole, Latinos are 19% of the U.S. population, but their screen time was only 5.5%. However, on a positive note, these are improved numbers compared to those calculated in other studies. 

“Streaming video had less representation of Asian women, and a higher representation of African American women,” de Armas added.

Asian and Black populations had almost the same statistics, making up 14% of the population, but had the biggest screen time of any race, at 18%. 

As for the LGBTQ+ community, they made up 7% of on-screen time despite being 4.5% of the population. 

The data, though some of it positive, still shows the grand disparity that exists between the media and their long existing sexism. As has been said throughout 2020, it needs to get better.

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