Gender as Represented in Spec Script Deals: 1991–2016

Updated to include last year's numbers. Bottom line: Little change.

I have tracked spec script deals pretty much since I broke into the business in 1987. Indeed I started recording details of actual deals as far back as 1991. My rationale: Staying on top of what studios and production companies are acquiring is a great way for a writer to keep their finger on the pulse of Hollywood's development universe.

Every year since I began the blog in 2008, I have gone through each of that year's deals and provided analysis of what, who, when, how, and why to give GITS readers insight into the spec script market. One set of numbers I track: Deals by gender. Here is an infographic with 2016 data included:

Many thanks to The Black List's Terry Huang for the infographic.

There is a slight uptick in the percentage of female writers involved in spec script deals from 2014-2016: 15% as compared to 13% in previous years. Obviously the number is significantly low, but perhaps 15% represents a new baseline. Still the relative consistency of these numbers suggests a systemic and ongoing issue.

These low numbers are one reason why I promote inclusivity on the blog:

  • In my Saturday Hot Links posts, I aggregate articles from each week which speak to gender inequity in the business.
  • On a recurring basis, I encourage writers to gender-bend stories to feature females in lead roles.
  • I have interviewed Darnell Hunt, Director of Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies, lead author of annual Hollywood Diversity Report.
  • I am making a conscious effort to do a 50–50 gender split of interviews with writers.

These along with other initiatives like the annual analysis of spec script deals by gender are small things, but that's the point: Each of us needs to do whatever we can to counteract unconscious and conscious gender bias.

In a related note, tomorrow I will be releasing a 24 page PDF: 2016 Spec Script Deals and Analysis.

Here are links to all my blogs posts analyzing spec script deals back to 2008.

2008 Spec Script Deals Analysis
2009 Spec Script Deals Analysis
2010 Spec Script Deals Analysis
2011 Spec Script Deals Analysis
2012 Spec Script Deals Analysis
2013 Spec Script Deals Analysis
2014 Spec Script Deals Analysis
2015 Spec Script Deals Analysis
2016 Spec Script Deals Analysis

Here are all the spec script deals I could confirm between 1991 and 2016:

The Definitive Spec Script Deals List [1991–2016]

As always, if anyone has information related to a spec script deal I have missed, please contact me.

What's your take on gender and screenwriting in general? Love to hear what you think. Click on RESPONSE and share your thoughts.


Gender as Represented in Spec Script Deals: 1991–2016 was originally published in Go Into The Story on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Go Into The Story – Medium

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