Television as a field from 1951 – 2013

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After making some changes to how I quantified the data, I created some charts that will hopefully have a story to tell.

These are some early writings on the above multiple correspondence analyses.


During the first period, women averged 5.096 percent of  producers and 9.523 percent of writers

From 1951-1980 men actors and writers are central to the field of television. Their central location indicated that men were present in large numbers across all genres and most shows. Female writers are located in the top left of the graph surrounded by comedy, family, and fantasy genres. Although it may seem to indicate that women dominated comedy, this is not the case. No show out of the nine analyzed during this time period had more women writers than men. Fawlty Towers had the highest percentage of female writers at 50%, and the show with the next highest percentage was I Love Lucy where 20% of the writers were women. The average percentage of women writing for a show during this time period was 9.583. Notice how Fawlty Towers and I Love Lucy are both located in a position where they are farthest from “m_writer” indicating that these shows were where men composed a smaller portion of the writers than other shows which were located closer.

Despite faring better than writers on average, women actors still struggled to find equal representation averaging 30.58 percent of actors. The shows closest to achieving gender equity were most often comedy shows which explains why f_actor is in close proximity. “F_actor” is located on the left side of the chart closer to fantasy, family, and comedy genres than men indicating a more equal gender composition than that found in thriller or mystery.

“F_producer” is located opposite the other female roles on the upper right of the graph. We might be quick to guess that women produce a majority of the dramas. This isn’t the case, however. In fact, the majority of shows during this time period had no women producers credited. The few shows that did    were dramas most often.

From the years of 1981-2000, we see men still centrally located in relation to other positions. Female actors are somewhat closer to the central location of male actors during this second period. Women made up a smaller percentage of actors in sci-fi and family. Across thirty-six shows, women made up 33.43 percent of actors, 14.87 percent of producers, and 18.47 percent of writers.  Multiple correspondence analysis allows us to see what genres and shows


In period 3, women composed 35.83 percent of all actors, 24.27 percent of all producers, and 26.50 percent of writers. Clearly, there is a trend of women finding more opportunities that continues from the previous two periods. We can see this change across the three mca charts by looking at how all the “f_(role)” positions move towards the center. Moving towards the center indicates that women were no longer strictly constrained to particular genres or shows.

Why men succeeded in the third golden age of television

Men alternately setting loose and struggling to cage their wildest natures has always been the great American story, the one found in whatever happens to be the ascendant medium at the time. Our favorite genres— the western; the gangster saga; the lonesome but dogged private eye operating outside the comforts of normal, domestic life; the superhero with his double identities— have all been literalizations of that inner struggle, just as Huckleberry Finn striking out for the territories was, or Ishmael taking to the sea. It should have been no surprise, then, that the Third Golden Age of TV began by revisiting those genres.

The field of television grew dramatically at the beginning of 21st century. With an increased demand for original content came more opportunities to have a show greenlit.  The increase in opportunities were not distributed evenly between the genders due to a dual queueing process described by Barbara Reskin. Within the field of television, there are potential producers of shows and there are programmers of the channels who decide what gets made and what does not. The potential producers are not a homogenous group of individuals. Within the potential producers group there are various ways of categorizing individuals. These categories are arranged hierarchically according to perceived worth or potential by the programmers. The programmers greenlight the shows of the producers in the highest ranked categories first and continue greenlighting shows of this group until it is more or less depleted. It is then that programmers will settle for less highly ranked groups.

The programmers are not the only one whose perceptions matter. The potential producers categorize the channels that programmers represent as well and rank them according to these categorizations. Sometimes these rankings determine who a potential producer will pitch a show to and other times it influences what offer to accept when there are multiple channels interested in a show.

Unfortunately for women, however they may be categorized in other areas, they are generally perceived as rankning lower than men, and this often means they get passed over if considered at all. Making matters worse is the limited opportunities available compared to the size of the pool of potential producers. Because there are so few opportunities available, potential producers usually must take what they can get. This high demand for relatively few positions means that programmers are able to pick individuals who they perceive as being the most capable based solely on the categories that an individual producer belongs. Women are not necessarily perceived as being less capable simply because of their gender. Their gender has impacted their opportunities at every stage of their careers that their resumes may appear to be less qualified. Programmers may not be out right sexists, but the proxies they use to rank producers generally affect women disproportionately compared to men.

The entry into the field of Netflix and Amazon has provided opportunities for women to produce shows in more recent years. As newcomers, these streaming services ranked below traditional television channels for potential producers. The traditional channels having depleted the pool of producers to the point that the streaming services were pushed to gambles in hiring women to produce some shows.


Works Cited

Multiple Correspondence Analyses Minimalist Design

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One of the more difficult parts of my thesis concerned formatting my multiple correspondence analyses to be printed and understandable on paper. It is nice having a computer and being able to zoom in to see what points are clumped together. It’s very difficult to put it all on a single page using a minimalist design philosophy. The most difficult aspect for me concerned dealing with these clumps of a data points. Initially, I tried to put it all on the page without any callouts. I just moved all of the show names into the white space somewhere close to where they were originally located.

The second picture shows my first attempts at using call outs. I also multiplied all of the Y values by -1 in order to flip the chart vertically. My call outs are still pretty ham handed though. I then attempted to clarify the chart by bringing some colors in to distinguish between show, genre, and gendered roles. I also left out any of the labels in the main chart thatwre also too thick. Following that chart, I thickened the data points.

After doing that, I placed genre and gendered role labels back into the main chart even if they were in the call out. I also added a legend. It was after this chart that I began to focus on being minimalist. All colors went bye bye. I reduced the font size and data point size significantly. Call outs were less intrusive and placed in unique borders to show where they went.

Finally, the final version has  increased font sizes for genres and gendered roles. The symbols were also changed to make the data pop out a little more. Along with the increased size, genres and gendered role fonts became bold. Also, there is only one call out box. The other call outs were simplified into a dotted line leading to a group of names. All of the grid lines except for the x axis were removed.

All of the charts were made using Graphpad Prism.

Multiple Correspondence Analyses of Gendered Roles, Genre, and the Hollywood Reporter Top 100 Television Shows Across Three Time Periods

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Looking specifically at the gendered positions (squares), the first two analyses show that comedy is more highly correlated with all gendered roles. In the third picture, the gendered positions are no longer concentrated around comedy but are dispersed more evenly between comedy and drama.

If we look at the movement of drama specifically across the three analyses, we see it moves closer to the center and then crosses the dotted line in the third picture to be opposite of comedy. This suggests that drama has become equally significant as comedy over these three time periods. We can see the decline of comedy across the three periods as well. In the first picture, comedy is located well above the dotted line. In the second picture, it has dropped significantly and moved to the right before resting just above the dotted line in the third picture. If we look at other genres located near comedy, we see that these genres become less associated with comedy and more often are associated with dramas by period 3. Romance is the one genre associated with comedy that stays relatively stable between period 2 and 3, and it also happens to be where women are located in positions closer than men.

To me, these multiple correspondence analyses illustrate how drama has become a legitimate television genre from 1951-2013. This is most easily seen by focusing on the male and female producers. In period 1, male producers are much closer to comedy than female producers who are located approximately an equal distance from comedy and drama. Period 2, we see male producers move closer to drama than female producers albeit not by much. Female producers are located closer than men to romance, fantasy, and action during this time. By period 3, male producers have moved to a position where they are closest to all genres except comedy (which has been in decline) and romance.

Multiple Correspondence Analyses of Gendered Roles, Genre, and Television Shows from 1981 – 2000

Multiple Correspondence Analyses of Television Genres, Gendered Roles, and Shows from 1981 - 2000

Quality television from 1981 – 2000 still centered around comedy albeit drama had begun to gain influence during this time period which is evident from the shorter distance to other locations in the field. Family moved away from comedy somewhat. Men were more likely to produce the quality dramas as the distance is shorter to drama than for women. Action and fantasy were the two genres located most on the fringes. Comedies in general hire more writers while dramas hire more actors.

 Multiple Correspondence Analyses of Gendered Roles, Genre, and Television Shows from 1951 – 1980

Multiple Correspondence Analyses of Television Genres, Gendered Roles, and Shows from 1951 - 1980

Clearly comedy is central to the field of television from 1951 – 1980. Fantasy also had a central location in the field during this time with shows such as I Dream of Jeannie, Mork and Mindy, and Bewitched. All dramas during this time period had a location in the field where it was outside the norm as a quality television genre. Likewise, actors, producers, and writers of both genders were more likely to find work in comedy. Action and adventure were located on the extreme margins of the field.

Male actors were at the very center of the field about an equal distance from both comedy and drama. Female actors were not too far away, but they were more likely to work in comedy shows.

Feminizing Occupations

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The fundamental reason for women’s disproportionate entry into the occupations we studied was a shortage of male workers (Kindle Locations 4144-4145).

Women receive better career opportunities when men are no longer available or simply do not want particular jobs. Only when employers are desperate for employees do they seem to realize that women can do jobs just as well as men. Occupations that do begin welcoming women at a greater rate generate a demand for women workers.

Fostering desegregation in a few of our occupations was the emergence of a sex-specific demand for women. Four phenomena produced such a demand: antidiscrimination regulations and litigation that raised the potential cost of giving men preference; the growth within an occupation of tasks already labeled as women’s work; the growth of a female clientele; and economic exigencies that spurred employers to take advantage of women’s lower labor price (Kindle Locations 4156-4158).

So employees begin to hire women when hiring men puts them at risk of violating laws and/or being sure. Women are hired at greater rates when there is a greater demand to complete tasks that are typically performed by women. Higher rates occur when there is an increase in female clients. This means that all women can impact hiring practices indirectly through concerted consumption. Lastly, women are hired more often when employers need to cut costs.

Despite the prevailing wisdom that liberalized attitudes have opened male jobs to women, we could document an effect only in bartending, where women’s exclusion had been reinforced by public fears that tending bar would corrupt them. In the other feminizing occupations we studied, changing attitudes tudes were unimportant compared with labor shortages or economic pressures (Kindle Locations 4174-4176).

I imagine today a lot of people would say they have no problem with a woman doing any particular job.  Saying that and women actually getting the chance to the jobs are two different things.  Generally,  our attitudes regarding the employment of women have little weight on employer decisions. However,  instead of attempting to influence employers,  the focus should be on legislatures to whom employers must listen .

But men failed to resist women’s entry into many feminizing occupations because the latter were no longer worth preserving as male territory. Here, as elsewhere (Hartmann et al., 1986:60), most of women’s increased numbers in feminizing occupations did not result from their taking jobs away from men (Kindle Locations 4178-4180).

Rarely are women hired in place of men.  More often,  women fill jobs that have abandoned by men who have sought more benefits,  higher wages, and more autonomy.

Women’s increasing share of the labor force and the pools from which employers recruit workers (such as M.B.A.’s) contributed to their movement into some male occupations, but unless circumstances impelled employers to hire women, the increased supply of women would not have been sufficient to feminize these male occupations (Kindle Locations 4180-4182).

More women entering the pools making up potential employees certainly has helped women in some occupations. They are still ignored a lot of times by employers, and their numbers have never threatened to feminize occupations where men make up the majority by a large percentage.

Within desegregating occupations female and male workers were concentrated in different jobs (Kindle Location 4194).

These nominally desegregating occupations remained internally segregated gated for the same reasons that the labor force as a whole has done so: white men’s favored position ensures them the most desirable and most highly rewarded warded jobs and allows most of them to dodge less attractive jobs for which women must settle. This pattern occurs within as well as across occupations (Kindle Locations 4201-4203).

Even when occupations appear to be moving towards gender balance, men and women are still not working the same jobs.

Works cited

What is a dual queueing process?

The most fruitful model sees occupational composition as the result of a dual-queueing process: labor queues order groups of workers in terms of their attractiveness to employers, and job queues rank jobs in terms of their attractiveness to workers (Kindle Locations 426-428).

In whatever field or industry examined, the gender or racial composition of the individuals composing it are a result of labor queues. Everyone involved in the field ranks potential jobs. Let’s take television production.

Job Queues

Anyone with an idea for a show must look at potential channels that will air it. Some channels, like HBO, will rank high on everyone’s list. There is only so much programming that HBO can afford and that they need to comprise their schedule. Thus, there are more people who want their shows on HBO than it needs. HBO can be picky and choose only the best shows that are pitched. The individuals who are rejected by HBO must pitch their shows to another channel that ranked lower (less desirable) on their list of potential channels. The important point about job queues is that they result from the perceptions of potential employees (or show creators) concerning the status of a job (or channel). Everyone perceives Harvard as one of the best colleges in the U.S. Most people will not attempt sending in an application because the chances of being accepted are so slim. Harvard still has more applications than it could possibly admit, and this surplus in applications allows it to be choosy.

Labor Queues

Labor queues are different in that they reflect the perception by employers, organizations, television channels or even colleges of applicants. Back to the television example, HBO has certain criteria that will make it more or less likely to greenlight a show. Does the show creator have experience creating a show? Have they worked in film? Are they well known? What genre would the show be? Would it mesh well with other shows in the schedule? All of these questions determine whether HBO will even hear the pitch.

Harvard likely has a GPA that all applicants should meet because Harvard has decided that this GPA is indicative of college success. This GPA will drop lower and lower as the prestige of the school drops. All applicants to Harvard below that GPA are likely dismissed from the very beginning unless they have some redeeming attribute that Harvard weighs more than high school performance. Such attributes are being related to an alumnus or being the son or daughter of a U.S. senator. All the applicants who barely meet the GPA requirement are placed at the back of the queue and are the least desirable from Harvard’s perspective. The least desirable to Harvard will likely be seen as very desirable at their state university.

Dual Queues

The final composition of the labor market, television show creators, or college enrollment is the result of the interaction between perceptions of attributes. Queues result when the perceptions do not mesh. Let’s say I have a 2.0 GPA and perceive Harvard as a perfect fit for me. Harvard receives my application, and they perceive me as someone who is not disciplined nor dedicated to my performance in school. I may have worked very very hard for that 2.0 with a very structured study schedule. It won’t matter to Harvard because they don’t see a 2.0 applicant as having a high probability of success if enrolled. They also consider a 2.0 as academically inferior. Accepting my application would reflect poorly on Harvard and “water down” the high concentration of 4.0 students. This “watering down” would then be perceived by society and would be reflected in less qualified applicants perceiving Harvard as a possibility and applying. It would also be reflected in fewer 4.0 applicants wanting to go to Harvard. Harvard is able to maintain its status because it receives many more applications than it can admit, and these applicants are usually pretty well qualified.


Works cited

 Creating Gender Queues

I’m completing my thesis at the University of Mississippi concerning the relationship between gender, genre, and television production. I see no harm in sharing while helping to get my thoughts together.

Barbara Reskin describes how men dominate coveted labor markets at the expense of women. Labor markets become gender queues where women are held back in five ways.

First, sex labels that characterize jobs as “women’s” or “men’s” work influence day-to-day hiring and job assignments by affecting employers’ notions of appropriate and inappropriate workers for particular jobs. The force of custom tends to blind employers to economically irrational decisions, at least until external events galvanize them to change (Kindle Locations 508-510).

One issue facing women is the weight of history where they have been undervalued relative to men. We are not damned to repeat that history,  but generally speaking we will if there are not laws created to force change. Because women have been kept out of many professions until fairly recently, they are untraditional employees which means employers usually will not go that route unless they set out to do so.

Second, employers’ difficulty in identifying productive workers leads them to resort to proxies such as educational attainment, experience, and group membership (Kindle Locations 510-511).

Because employers have a difficult time spotting job candidates who will do well, they tend to rely on shortcuts that discount women. Proxies hurt anyone who do not have an ideal job history (like myself) with periods of unemployment. But each proxy tends to hurt women at a greater rate than men as women are less likely to be given the opportunities that men receive.

Third, some employers worry that male workers’ negative response to female interlopers will reduce productivity or raise labor costs by increasing turnover, or lead men to demand higher wages to compensate them for working with women (Kindle Locations 514-515).

Men are sensitive about their masculinity.  Any threats to the gender composition in a field that could change how it is perceived within society is met with resistance by men. They will go on strike or leave the job if it seems beneath them.

Fourth, some employers are not compelled to minimize wages. The level of competition they face and the share of all costs that wages constitute affect their incentive to find ways to cut wages (Kindle Locations 521-522).

The primary advantage women have in labor markets is that they cost less to employ.  When labor costs are trivial, women job candidates have less of a chance in being hired.

Finally, some employers willingly accept higher wages as the price for favoring men (Kindle Location 527).

To employers, hiring men at higher wages is better than paying less for women to do the job as it protects the job from having its status depreciate, and it legitimizes male dominance elsewhere throughout society. Employers seem willing to pay more to lessen their doubt even though that doubt is based on sexist assumptions regarding the quality of work performed by women.

Works cited