@ 2023 Advocate Channel.
All Rights reserved

Study Reveals Increase in Female Characters— But Not in Their Ages

Kim Cattrall and Juliette Lewis embrace at an event.

While most demographics saw a step towards equal representation, there's one group of women whose statistics remain abysmal—women over the age of 60.

A new study has revealed that representation for women in television has increased from previous years. The one thing that hasn't increased? The age of those characters.

San Diego State University conducts the Boxed In study annually, which estimates the number of women who work in television on-screen and behind the scenes. For the 2021-2022 period, the report examined more than 3,800 credits on major broadcasting and streaming networks.

Overall, this most recent data saw increases from the 2020-2021 year. Behind the scenes, women constitute 37 percent of roles for streaming services, and 31 percent for broadcast.

In streaming services, women with speaking roles increased from 45 percent of characters to 47 percent. Broadcast television has sat at 45 percent both years.

Major women characters are 50 percent of those from streaming services, a drop from 52 percent last year. However, broadcast programs characters increased from 45 to 48 percent.

The amount of minority women also increased onscreen, with women on broadcast networks rising to 28 percent Black, 7 percent Latina, and 10 percent Asian American . On streaming platforms, 21 percent were Black, 3 percent Latina, and 15 percent Asian American.

While each category saw a step towards equal representation, there's one demographic of women whose statistics remain abysmal—women over the age of 60.

On broadcast television shows, 42 percent of women characters are in their 30s, with 15 percent in their 40s. On streaming programs, the numbers are even lower at 33 percent in their 30s and 14 percent in their 40s.

For women 60 or older, the number of major characters is a staggering 3 percent, half that of the roles available for men over 60.

The report concludes: "At about the age of 40, female characters begin to disappear in substantial numbers from both broadcast and streaming programs."

Dr. Martha Lauzen, professor and executive director of the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film at San Diego State University told NPR that the statistics around older women have not changed since she began conducting the study 20 years ago.

She said: "It's such a dated gender stereotype that I'm always surprised to see that it remains in both television and film."

Be sure to follow Advocate Channel on your favorite social platforms!


From our sponsors

From our partners

Top Stories