Report: Minorities, Women Underrepresented in Canadian Writing Rooms

A Ryerson RTA School study into workplace and earnings trends found the nation's TV scribes are far less diverse than the wider population.

TORONTO -- Canadian screenwriters are questioning why there are far fewer women TV scribes than men in local writing rooms.

The first-ever study of Canadian screenwriters conducted by the RTA School of Media at Ryerson University exposed the gender discrepancy and a lack of opportunity for visible minorities as it surveyed Writers Guild of Canada members on workplace and earnings trends.

"We felt it was time to begin an examination of who is writing for our screens, what they are writing and how they are writing," said Michael Coutanche, assistant professor with the RTA School of Media and a former Canadian film and TV exec.

The report found nearly twice as many Canadian screenwriters, or 65 percent, were men, while women made up only 35 percent of local scribes.

And men dominated the highest-paying and most powerful writing positions, found mostly in Toronto and Los Angeles, while women screenwriters had less overall experience in the industry and earned less for their screenwriting work.

Visible minorities are also missing in action in Canadian writing rooms.

The Ryerson report on diversity issues found only 4.1 percent of Canadian screenwriters polled hailed from visible minorities, compared to minorities representing around one-quarter of Canada's overall population.

And 36 percent of those polled report they experienced workplace discrimination due to their ethnic or racial background.