The Secret To Jimmy Kimmel’s Late Night TV Success? His Staff Of Working Moms

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If this isn’t the best *advertisement* for working moms, we don’t know what is! The Hollywood Reporter recently featured all the women who work at late night comedy show ‘Jimmy Kimmel Live’, including Jimmy’s wife and co-head writer Molly McNearney, for one reason in particular – they are all moms or about to be moms.

With so much talk on the need for paid family leave, women “leaning in” while balancing work and family here in the US, it is certainly a very timely piece. Aside from the video interviews (below), Molly, who is mom to a daughter named Jane, also writes an op-ed exhibiting her comedy writing skills while also giving fans an inside look into the staff of ‘Jimmy Kimmel Live’.

“Over the past year and a half, many of the women working at Jimmy Kimmel Live! got fat. Including myself, nine staffers wound up knocked up (all by Jimmy, who explained he is strongly committed to building a family atmosphere in the workplace). One day, we were zipping around the building, noses in our phones, scouring YouTube for videos of kids sobbing over Halloween candy … and the next we were waddling around the office, noses in our phones, trying not to cry or puke in meetings,” she began.

After listing the bizarre food runs all the pregnant women would make the interns do, the reaction of male staffers to seeing breast pumps in the bathroom and working on celebrity segments which include everyone from Justin Bieber to President Obama, Molly says one of the greatest things about having an army of female staffers who happen to get pregnant at the same time, is the camaraderie.

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“Being pregnant at work was challenging, but experiencing it as a group with other tired, frightened and excited women made it easier. Our support for one another grew along with our bellies…Together we’re struggling to balance our lives — working hard to make a good late-night show and even harder to make good little human beings,” she said.

That seems to be the key word: support. In the US, one of a very few number of countries yet to implement any paid family leave laws on a federal level, the workplace can be tough for women who also have a desire to raise a family (or are already doing that). That aspect, together with the gender wage gap can mean women are up against a lot more than men, despite making up half the working population.

What we are seeing, is a trend of individual companies creating environments that support families and understand that allowing a father or a mother time off to be with their child knowing their job is secure is going to be better for the staff as well as the company in the long run. Unfortunately we’re not 100% there yet, which is why a feature like the THR spotlight on the working moms of JKL are important.

“It’s challenging but rewarding because we do it together. We do our best every day to please audiences big and small. My hope is that our tireless little mom army inspires our daughters and encourages other women who plan to juggle a career with children,” concludes Molly in her op-ed.

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A study from Harvard Business School earlier this year found that children actually benefit more from having moms who work outside the home.

“Women who were raised with moms who worked outside the home are more likely to be employed than women whose moms stayed home full time. They earn more money in the jobs that they do hold. And those women who do work are significantly more likely to hold supervisory responsibility in their jobs. So they earn more money and they’re more powerful at work,” said Kathleen McGinn, a professor of business administration and co-author of the study.

In a sense, Molly and her crew of women are in a better position than many other women who don’t necessarily work in an environment where being pregnant or having family commitments is taken into consideration.

And while they are doing a great job of promoting what it looks like when a group of talented, hard-working and thriving moms work on one of late night TV’s most popular shows, one area that does need improving is the percentage of women, especially female writers, overall.

After Vanity Fair published a feature on the “titans of Late Night Television” back in September, critics were quick to point ou that among the 10 hosts pictured, not one of them was a woman. Aside from the obvious gender exclusion, one Twitter user decided to amend the image into an infographic to specifically call out the lack of female writers on each show:

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Yep, she scoured the IMDB pages of each show to find any credited female writers and these are the figures she came up with. Jimmy Kimmel sits at a low 14.3% which isn’t impressive by any means, especially since it is fairly common knowledge that Molly is the only female writer on the show (and one of the only female head writers on any late night show).

In an interview from 2011 with Splitsider, she talked about the gender problem in more detail, specifically relating to her show.

“Being the only woman writing at this show, I have both an advantage and a disadvantage. I think women naturally come in with a disadvantage because I do think there are some ‘old school’ ways of thinking that women are not as funny…as one of the head writers, when we last hired we got about 200 submission packets and less than 30 were from women. So, it’s not that we’re not hiring women, it’s that not as many women are submitting for the jobs,” she said.

She also gives some great advice for anyone who does want to be a writer on a comedy show, so be sure to read the full interview.

So from starting out identifying the problems women face in the workforce when they have children, to the lack of female writers in late night TV, it seems we have a long way to go to reach gender parity in our society. But if the women on ‘Jimmy Kimmel Live’ are able to show the industry what it looks like when you choose to do things differently, perhaps it can encourage more and more change.

If you want to see just who make up some of the 14.3% of female staff on the show, including Erin Irwin who is a co-executive producer, check out the full interview with THR below:

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  1. Pingback: The Working Mom Burnout - How Companies Can Help Change The Conversation - GirlTalkHQ

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