The XX Factor

Does SNL Give Women a Chance?

News broke today that Jenny Slate’s contract at Saturday Night Live was not renewed . The sketch show has been accused of sexism in its hiring and firing practices before-notably during the last season, when Casey Wilson was given the ax. There were rumors that she was kicked off because she refused to lose 30 pounds , though Wilson denied those rumors . As a fan of the show who watches it on DVR every Sunday AM (that way you can skip the commercials and the unfunny bits), I was saddened by Slate’s dismissal. She didn’t get much action on the show, but when she was on-like when she played doorbell saleswoman Tina Tina Cheneuse -she was off-beat and delightful. Her seemingly premature ouster made me wonder: Do women get a fair shake on SNL ?

I did a quick-and-dirty check based on the Wikipedia list of SNL cast-members and their tenures on the show . (Note: Considering the speed with which I did these calculations, and knowing their source, I would take these figures as a ballpark calculation, rather than as gospel.) In terms of overall numbers, women were definitely underrepresented: Only 33 percent of all cast members since the show debuted in 1975 have been female. But when you check out how long they’ve been on the show by gender, the picture gets a bit more murky. On average, male cast-members last 3.4 years and women last three years. When you take a closer look, women tend to either leave after a year, or last for six or seven years. There weren’t many women who stuck around for two or three years.

The good news about the upcoming season is that beloved former castmember Amy Poehler is going to be hosting the premiere episode on Sept. 25. Clip of Jenny Slate as Tina Tina is embedded below.