GLAAD Finds Increase in Female Characters on Network TV

by Imran Siddiquee

Today our friends at GLAAD released a comprehensive report on the representation of LGBT characters in shows airing during the 2012-2013 television season, which includes evidence of a 2% increase in the overall number of female characters on network TV. This year 45% of regular* characters on the major networks will be women, compared to 43% last year and 41% the year prior.

From the report:

Last year ABC was the only broadcast network with a higher percentage of female characters than male characters, unfortunately this year none of the five are in that situation. ABC is still leading with 47% of female characters, followed closely by The CW. CBS is last at 39%, which is an improvement from last year’s 36%.

GLAAD provided us with this chart documenting the percentage of female characters on individual networks over the last five years.

You’ll notice that their have only been two instances where female characters equalled or outnumbered male characters on any television network (the CW in 2009-2010 and ABC last year).

Though we haven’t quite reached parity, it does seem that television is a bit ahead of the Hollywood film industry when it comes to representing women. Our very own Jennifer Siebel Newsom (director of Miss Representation) comments on this in the GLAAD report:

“The representation of women on network television shows continues to outpace studio films by a significant margin – where women were only 11% of protagonists in the top 100 films last year – but it still has a ways to go when it comes to truly reflecting the real world. Yes, we should celebrate TV’s successes, but we must also continue to pressure all media creators to not only include more women in their stories, but to make sure that women and girls are central to the storyline and that the characters they are writing are three dimensional human beings, not just stereotypes created solely for the male gaze.”

We’ll be diving deeper into the GLAAD findings in the days to come to determine just how many of the female characters in 2012 shows are main players and how many are supporting characters. Stay tuned!

To read the complete GLAAD “Where We Are on TV” report, click here or see below:


*Lead and supporting characters expected to appear in every (or almost every) episode of a show.

Written by Imran Siddiquee at Follow him on Twitter @imransiddiquee