More women are working in television than ever before but few can be found in positions of power where key decisions are made, a new study says.
The report, "Prime Time Power: Women Producers, Writers and Directors in TV," released Monday by the National Commission of Working Women, examined the number of women working in key decision-making jobs on last year's top 20 television programs.
"Our findings are sobering," said Sally Steenland, author of the report.
"Although there are a few programs -- notably 'My Sister Sam' and 'L.A. Law' -- that are promoting women to top positions, too many shows have only one or two women in the ranks of power" on their production staffs.
"Many programs have a woman on the producing team, and many frequently employ a female writer.
Occasionally, shows hire a female director," she said. "But these few women are far outnumbered by men on almost all of the top shows."
The report focused on program credit for executive producer, supervising producer, producer, coproducer, writer and director for each of the 20 programs.
Among the findings:
CBS' "My Sister Sam" had the highest percentage of female producers, directors and writers.
"Murder, She Wrote," also shown on CBS, had no women working as producers, writers or directors.
Only four of the top 20 shows employed female executive producers, and women were listed as supervising producers, producers or coproducers on only nine programs.
Fourteen of the shows, or 70 percent, had no female directors on the episodes monitored, and on four of the remaining six programs, women directed fewer than half the episodes.
"Almost everyone agrees that the employment status of women in the industry has improved," said Steenland.
"But virtually every woman veteran has a 'war story,' a tale of subtle or blatant bias that has in some way impeded her career.