Star Trek’s Behind the Scenes Gender Gap

Earlier this week, as part of a “Behind the Scenes Week” project with The Valkyrie Directive, I posted graphs showing the lack of women directors on Star Trek episodes.

But it’s not just directors who affect what we see on TV. When you look at studies of behind the camera roles in TV, there are roles considered “clout positions” – directors, writers, executive producers, producers and cinematographers – and these are often the ones with the greatest gender gap.

Unfortunately, I was surprised at how much this held true in Star Trek, even in the later series. Join me after the jump for a walk through the stats, compiled from data from Memory Alpha and IMDB.

Note: Under “Writers” I counted everyone with credit for story, teleplay or writing. For “other key production staff” I’m including various categories of producers, production and pre-production associates (often involved with picking scripts from submissions), script consultants, and story editors.

The Original Series

Graph of TOS writers by gender

Writers

  • 77.5% of episodes were written entirely by male writers.
  • 22.5% included at least one woman in the writing credits.

Series Cinematographers

  • 100% men

Executive Producers

  • 100% men

Other key production/writing staff

  • D.C. Fontana was a script consultant on 31 episodes – the only woman in one of these positions.
  • Counting the number of men credited in these roles, TOS had 5.22 men for 1 woman.

The Next Generation

(photo of the Next Generation creative team [minus Ron Moore] via TrekCore)

TNG writers including Gene Roddenberry, Rick Berman and Michael Piller
TNG writers by gender

Writers

  • 30.2% of TNG episodes credit at least one woman writer. The rest credit only male writers (breakdown by season in graph above)

Series Cinematographers

  • 100% men

Executive Producers

  • 100% men

Other key production/writing staff

  • Associate Producer/Co-Producer Wendy Neuss and Supervising Producer/Co-Executive Producer Jeri Taylor filled their roles for more than 100 episodes each.
  • Other women in key roles for more than 20 episodes included Line Producer Merri D. Howard, Executive Script Consultant/Story Editor Melinda M. Snodgrass and Production or Pre-Production Associates Susan Sackett, Lolita Fatjo, Kristine Fernandez and Kim Fitzgerald.
  • 22% of credits for these roles went to women.

Deep Space Nine

DS9 episodes by season by whether episodes credited any women writers

Writers

  • Only 17% of episodes credit at least one woman writer.  In Season 7 no women writers were credited.
  • However, stats might be slightly skewed by the fact that in Season 5, there is one episode where the writer’s gender is unknown. I did not count that episode

Series Cinematographers

  • 100% men

Executive Producers

  • 100% men

Other key production/writing staff

  • The only women to receive producer credits were Terri Potts (associate producer-co-producer, 116 episodes), Kristine Cox (associate producer, 18 episodes [credited as Kristine Fernandez for 8]).
  • Lolita Fatjo worked as a pre-production coordinator or pre-production associate for almost the entire run of the series (160 episodes). Heidi Smothers worked as a production associate for 131 episodes.
  • Other women who worked as production associates for a significant length of time (20+ episodes) included Robbin L. Slocum, Kim Fitzgerald, Kristine Cox (Fernandez), Maril Davis, Kristina Kochoff and Sandra Sena.
  • 32% of credits for these roles went to women.

Voyager

Voyager episodes broken down by season and writers' gender

Writers

  • 25% of episodes credit at least one woman writer

Series Cinematographers

  • 100% men

Executive Producers

  • Jeri Taylor worked as an executive producer for 93 episodes
  • Male EPs (Rick Berman, Michael Piller and Brannon Braga) were credited a combined 258 times.

Other key production/writing staff

  • The ratio of credits going to these roles was 2 men:1 woman continuing the improvement over previous series.
  • Of particular note with more than 100 episodes each to their credits, Producer/Co-Supervising Producer Merri D. Howard for the run of the series, Co-Producer/Associate Producer Dawn Velazquez (126 episodes), Pre-Production Coordinator Lolita Fatjo (111 episodes).
  • Lisa Klink has 74 episodes credited to her as Executive Story Editor or Show Staff Writer, and she also wrote a huge chunk of the women-written Voyager episodes.
  • 33% of credits for these roles went to women.

Enterprise

Enterprise episodes broken down by season and writers' gender

Writers

  • 22% of episodes credited at least one woman writer

Series Cinematographers

  • 100% men

Executive Producers

  • 100% men

Other key production/writing staff

  • Merri D. Howard was a supervising producer and Dawn Velazquez was a producer for the run of the series.
  • 24% of credits for these roles went to women.

So to conclude, throughout the 5 live action series of Star Trek, a significant gender gap persisted in the behind-the-scenes “clout positions”. 

I’d also like to note I think it’s equally important for those clout positions to be filled with people from more diverse racial backgrounds. Unfortunately, it’s hard to get definitive stats on what the stats for behind-the-scenes people of colour for Star Trek was, but it’s fair to say by looking at photos like the ones above that the creative teams were overwhelmingly white. 

I’d be hoping if we ever get a new series that the back rooms would be more diverse than seen previously, preferably as diverse as its fans.

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