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Directors UK: Women Represent Only 14% of the Directors in UK TV

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by Melissa Silverstein
May 8, 2014 10:57 AM
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According to a new report from Directors UK entitled Who's Calling the Shots?, women in the UK are directing only 14% of the TV shows. Weirdly, or not so weirdly, those stats exactly match the current DGA stats for women working in TV here in the US.

The research, published today, shows that in 2011 and 2012 only 14% of TV shows produced by the big production houses in Britain (which make up most of the shows on TV) had women directors. There are several shows that had no women directors including shows about women like Vera starring Academy Award winner Brenda Blethyn, and the critically acclaimed Luther.

Here are the key findings (all the research is from 2011-12)

  • 0% - Women directors have ever worked on many popular dramas and entertainment shows. 
  • 13% - Drama episodes directed by women 
  • 11% 0 Drama series and serials episodes directed by women 
  • 0% - Sci-fi/fantasy genre drama episodes directed by women 
  • 2% - Quiz and Panel show episodes directed by women 
  • Women are gender stereotyped and are more likely to direct factual programmes concerned with body issues, food, or homes. 83% of Factual programmes about technology and science were directed by men.
  • Men move upwards and get "fast tracked" credits as their career progresses, women move sideways.


Why this huge gender disparity? - Verbatim from the report:

"Decisions on hiring are influenced by the opinions (or perceived opinions) of commissioners, in a risk-averse culture that keeps hiring the same directors." 

 "Production executives responsible for hiring are unaware of low figures for women directors."

"There is no uniform or consistent monitoring of the freelance workforce throughout the industry."

"Beyond a trusted few, there is a lack of awareness of a large number of highly qualified and experienced women drama directors." 

"Gender stereotyping is prevalent when hiring in specific genres in drama, factual and comedy."

So in other words: We hire our friends, we hate change, we didn't know, we don't know any women directors and if we knew any they wouldn't be qualified, and also women can direct only certain types of shows. 

Sounds familiar.

The organization came up with some ways to make change

- Set a 30% target for women directors by 2017.

- Production companies need to monitor levels of freelance directors and need to offer more long-term contracts to women directors.

- Production companies need to apply the same standards of fair selection to both freelance and permanent staff - (PS - some of these entities get public funds so they should be required to have gender diversity.) 

- Broadcasters and production companies need to work with Directors UK to provide regular networking events for directors and executives. 

- There needs to be more mentoring, networking and workshops.

I would add that Directors UK should make a database of qualified women and make it available to all companies. And I would require all those companies to interview a woman for all open positions.

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More: Women Directors, Research, Statistics

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