How we conducted our data-driven approach to inclusion scoring
The Inclusion List was determined through a process of assigning points for series that met inclusion metrics. A total of 15 points could be earned– 5 for on screen inclusion and 10 for behind the camera inclusion.
To determine on screen inclusion scores, the series regular cast members for each series were identified. Then, each series regular character was evaluated for gender, race/ethnicity, and age. Information on whether the character was LGBTQ+ and/or shown with a disability was also obtained from online sources. Annenberg Inclusion Initiative research assistants also watched the first episode of each series (when available) to confirm judgments made from online information. A series could earn up to 5 points for on screen inclusion based on the 5 inclusion indicators (gender, race/ethnicity, LGBTQ+, disability, age). A point was awarded when the percentage of series regulars within each inclusion indicator reached proportional representation to the U.S. population.
Behind the camera, it was possible for a series to earn up to 1 point for each behind the camera position evaluated– 10 in total. The positions were: Director, Writer, Producer, Cinematographer, Editor, Composer, Production Designer, Costume Designer, Casting Director, and First Assistant Director. Every episode of a season was examined to determine who worked in each of the positions evaluated.
Up to 1 point was allocated for each behind-the-camera role. Points were based on the percentage of women or people of color credited in a specific position. This percentage was calculated across all people credited within a specific position. For positions in which multiple individuals were credited, a fraction of a point was allocated for every woman and/or person of color in the role. If 5 writers were credited on a season of 10 episodes and three were women and 2 were people of color, the series earned 0.5 points for that position.
There were two exceptions. For casting directors and costume designers, the historically gendered nature of the role required a different approach. For these positions, if the credited individual was a person of color, the film received a point.
Points were totaled across all available metrics on screen and behind the camera, and series were ranked according to their full point total. The Inclusion List for streaming series is comprised of series that earned between 6.9 and 13.3 points across all inclusion metrics. For broadcast and cable series, scores ranged from 5.3 to 12.8.
To determine the sample of series that would be evaluated for the Inclusion List, Nielsen data was used to identify all series that were released on broadcast and cable television channels between September 20, 2021 and September 18, 2022. Additionally, Nielsen data on series released on streaming platforms (Amazon Prime, Apple TV+, Disney+, Max, Hulu, Netflix, Paramount+, and Peacock) in the same time frame was obtained from the company. This list was refined to include only content that was scripted, live action, and aired in prime time (for broadcast and cable series only). We further narrowed the list by focusing on broadcast and cable channels that were subsidiaries or affiliated with major parent companies (AMC Networks, E.W. Scripps Company, Fox Corp., Hallmark Media, Lionsgate, NBC Universal, Nexstar Media Group, Inc., Paramount Global, Walt Disney Company, Warner Bros. Discovery). The list was then supplemented with additional streaming series on platforms that Nielsen did not monitor. Further information on streaming series released in 2023 was also obtained from online sources. Lastly, only series that had the U.S. as the country of origin were included.
Data regarding on-screen series regular characters were collected by the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative team. Series regular characters were identified from information provided by Luminate. When this information was not available, series regular characters were identified in one of two ways. The first method of identifying these characters was by examining the cast listed on a streaming series platform. The second method consisted of using IMDbPro cast lists for each episode within a season to identify which characters appeared in 75% or more of the episodes. Series regulars could not be identified from any sources for four anthology series and were excluded from further analysis.
After identifying series regular characters, research assistants used online sources to identify the gender, race/ethnicity, and age of each character. Additionally, information was sought to determine if characters identified as LGBTQ+ or were shown with a disability during the season.
A total of 4,612 series regular characters were identified. Once a series regular character was identified, information about the character’s gender (male, female, non-binary); race/ethnicity (White/Caucasian, Hispanic/Latino, Black/African American, American Indian/Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander, Asian, Middle Eastern/North African, Multiracial/Multiethnic); and age (child, teen, young adult, middle aged, elderly) was sought from online sources. Additionally, LGBTQ+ identity (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, not lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender); and disability (present, absent) were assessed by using episode and season summaries. At the analysis level, race/ethnicity was collapsed to reflect a measure of being a member of an underrepresented (Hispanic/Latino, Black/African American, American Indian/Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander, Asian, Middle Eastern/North African, Multiracial/Multiethnic) vs. not underrepresented group for each character. Finally, the first episode of a series was viewed to confirm judgments made from online sources. A total of 30 series were not available to be viewed.
A total of 10 behind-the-scenes roles were analyzed: Director, Writer, Producer, Cinematographer, Editor, Composer, Production Designer, Costume Designer, Casting Director, and First Assistant Director.
The data collection process involved identifying all individuals who worked in these roles for every episode across each series in the sample using IMDbPro. Across the sample, there were 116,640 crew roles evaluated.
Across positions, specific credits were included for each role. In general, location-based or unit-based credits were excluded from analysis. Writers included those earning “written by,” “story by,” “screenplay by,” or “teleplay by” credit and excluded writers responsible only for source material or in staff roles not associated with an episode. For Producers, credits included: “Executive,” “Co-Executive,” “Producer,” and “Co-Producer.” Individuals who were credited as “First Assistant Director” were included, and only when no First Assistant Director was credited on a series was the individual(s) earning “Assistant Director” with no additional modifier included in the sample. Casting Directors were those responsible for overall casting, and location-based casting directors were not included.
Gender and race/ethnicity information was then obtained for each person using online sources, such as Luminate, Studio System by Gracenote, IMDbPro, U.S. Census records, interviews, and social media posts. Gender was categorized as male, female, or non-binary, and race/ethnicity categorized as white or underrepresented (including Black/African American, Hispanic/Latino, Asian, American Indian/Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander, Middle Eastern/North African, and Multiracial/Multiethnic).
When no information on race/ethnicity could be found, a photograph of the individual was obtained, and senior research team members rendered a judgment on the individual’s race/ethnicity and/or gender. In the past, this process has been used to determine gender and race/ethnicity of series regulars, and there was a .90 correlation between independent judgments made by the research team and documented information on racial/ethnic identity across 2,175 series regulars appearing in episodic content from the 2014-15 season.
There are limitations to this methodology, including the potential for incomplete or inaccurate information available online and the use of limited information to make judgments on race/ethnicity for individuals where no information could be found. However, efforts were made to obtain as much information as possible to ensure the accuracy of the analysis. There were a total of 540 unique individuals out of 11,782 for whom no information could be obtained about gender and/or race/ethnicity. These individuals were excluded from the analysis. Given that information was sourced from online databases to determine cast and crew information, missing or partial information could lead to individuals not being fully credited for their role on a series. We urge everyone participating in the television industry to ensure their online information is up to date and completely accurate. This way, when we replicate the study we can note any discrepancies between the first year and updated online profiles and acknowledge those inconsistencies in the next report.
Across the site, descriptions were generated by ChatGPT and then edited by the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative. Film posters were sourced from IMDb and various online sources.
Additional details regarding methodology can be provided upon request from firstname.lastname@example.org.
This project was led by Samuel Wheeler (Data Management Coordinator) and Brooke Kong (User Experience Designer). Authorship should be cited as: Wheeler, S., Kong, B., Pieper, K., & Smith, S.L. (2023). The Inclusion List.® Annenberg Inclusion Initiative. Los Angeles, CA.
We would like to express our gratitude to the individuals and organizations who have assisted and supported us, in addition to our outstanding team. Amy White, Julia Tian, and Brycie Jones, along with Karen Do, Lexie Riegelhaupt, and Elise O’Neil and their colleagues at the Adobe Foundation have provided unwavering support for this project since its inception. The dedicated team at the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative also played a significant role in making this project possible, and we extend our appreciation to our hardworking students for their contributions.
Annenberg Inclusion Initiative Founder: Dr. Stacy L. Smith
Program Director: Dr. Katherine Pieper
Program Manager: Ariana Case
Development Team: Sam Wheeler, Anvitha Chegu Ashokkumar, Sai Prasad Palivela, Sindhura B R
Design Team: Brooke Kong and Isabelle Lim
Research Assistants: AJ Domingo, Amy Andrade, Anish Lahorani, Braxton Albers, Celia Hidell, Chris B Tsoumou, Cierra Morgan, Danielle Hsieh, Elva Liu, Emily Baik, Fatema Bhaiji, Gretchen Rudolph, Habeeba Kamel, Hrushikesh Lavate, Ingred Ziemniak, Jaden Sibrian, Jalen Short, Jessica Jia, Jonathan Beyer, Jordan Evans, Julia Zara, Katelyn Do, Kiana Ong, Mallory North, Natalie Sperling, Neeharika Goyal, Olivia Clarke, Olu Ajayi, Sam Fredericks, Sanjana Senthil, Shaneen Upal, Shefali Murti, Sophia Castro, Sophia Pelaez, Tung Le, Tyrese Shaffer, Vivienne Yang, Yvonne Abedi, Zianna Razon
Annenberg Inclusion Initiative Staff Team: Al-Baab Khan, Aimee Christopher, Ashley Kolaya, Bryan Davis, Karla Hernandez, Katherine Neff, Matthew A. Davis, Sarah Neff, W. Michael Sayers, Zoe Moore, Zoily Mercado
© 2024 Dr. Stacy L. Smith & the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative. All Rights Reserved.