Directors UK has unveiled a new report that reveals a widening gender gap in UK directors
The report, Who’s Calling the Shots? A Report on Gender Inequality among Screen Directors working in UK Television, found that television episodes directed by women fell by 2.98 percentage points between 2013 and 2016, that only one in four television programmes was directed by a woman and that no broadcaster surveyed improved their percentage of episodes directed by women over the four-year period. The report focussed on gender inequality in directorial roles across the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5.
In response, Directors UK is calling for broadcasters to commit 0.25% of their commissioning spend for all programme making to fund career development and industry access schemes to close the gender gap.
The report found that factual programming showed the most significant decrease, by 9.8 percentage points. Children’s programming came second with a 4.5 percentage point decline. Multi-camera & Entertainment though increased by 2.8 percentage points and Drama and Comedy showed an increase of 4.3 percentage points.
Channel 4 saw a 5.4 percentage point decline in the number of episodes directed by women between 2013 and 2016, while Channel 5 experienced a 2.9 percentage point drop. In the same period, BBC and ITV saw a 1.8 and 1.5 percentage point decline respectively.
Directors UK argues in the report that positive interventions are responsible for the growth in female directors in drama and comedy. Following the launch of Directors UK’s first report in 2014, it began working with broadcasters to place women directors in on-set career development placements within Continuing Drama. The latest research reveals that, since then, Continuing Drama has experienced a 7.3 percentage point increase.
On the back of the report, Directors UK is proposing a number of recommendations to help improve equality, transparency and accountability:
• Broadcasters to commit 0.25% of their commissioning spend across all programme making as a levy to fund industry access and career development schemes for underrepresented groups.
• Ofcom to make it mandatory for all UK broadcasters to monitor and publicly report their diversity characteristics of all those making programmes for them, to include freelancers as well as permanent staff. And for broadcasters to monitor and publish the equality data of senior production roles such as producers, writers and directors as well as the heads of departments
• Ofcom to set broadcasters targets to use production crews whose gender, ethnic and disability makeup mirrors that of the UK population, both in front of and behind the camera, by 2020.
• Hirers to commit to fairer recruitment practices in line with other industries to improve equal access to opportunities for all; in particular, externally advertising roles, the introduction of written references for freelance production staff and a requirement for women to make up 50% of those being interviewed for senior production roles.
Directors UK Board member and factual director, Toral Dixit (Dispatches, World’s Greatest Bridges, What do Artists Do All Day, Mammoth – Back from the Dead), commented: “It is not acceptable that women make up one third of working directors in the UK but only direct one in four television programmes. To generate a shift towards gender equality, broadcasters must embrace positive interventions across all genres and deliver fair and transparent hiring practices for both freelancers and staff. Targets must be set and tracked through mandatory monitoring so successes can be built on and replicated across the industry.”
Directors UK CEO Andrew Chowns added: “While the overall decline is very disappointing, results in Continuing Drama show that collaborative interventions made in partnership with broadcasters and production partners do work to unlock new opportunities for women directors by developing skills and building expertise. These workplace initiatives must now become more widely available, so we are asking broadcasters to commit 0.25% of their commissioning spend across all programmes to fund industry access and career development schemes for underrepresented groups.”
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