Number of female writers in TV and film “remain at a shockingly low level” new report finds

A study from the Writers Guild of Great Britain reveals that just 14% of prime time British TV is written by women

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A “shocking” new report from the Writer’s Guild of Great Britain (WGGB) has found that only 14% of prime-time British TV is written by women.

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Based on 10 years of data, the study identified a “self-sustaining loop of gender inequality” where a “lack of formal or open hiring systems” has led to a male bias within the film and TV industry.

The report also found only 16% of working film writers in the UK are women, and that this number has “flatlined” during the past decade.

Interestingly, the data revealed evidence that films and TV shows written by women were more likely to receive a positive critical response than male screenwriters, with the study highlighting shows like Victoria (written by Daisy Goodwin, above left), Call the Midwife (Heidi Thomas, middle), and Happy Valley (Sally Wainwright, right).

“This new independent research confirms that women screenwriters are still facing a glass ceiling, which is preventing them from getting the top writing jobs,” said Writer’s Guild General Secretary Ellie Peers. “Films and TV shows written by women in the UK have flatlined over the past decade and remain at a shockingly low level.

“Women make up over half the UK population, yet in film and TV they are an under-represented group, with as little as 14% of prime-time programming – excluding the soaps – being written by women.

“We’ve been told it’s ‘getting better’, but if more women are being commissioned than before, then prove it, give us the facts and share your data. No more excuses. Let’s have an open and honest debate about how we can collectively bring about positive change for all under-represented groups of writers in film and television.”

Following the findings, the Guild has launched an Equality Writes campaign to tackle the issue, a movement supported by the likes of comedian and writer Sandi Toksvig.

“There is no shortage of talented women writers in the UK, and therefore no excuse that so few of them are getting commissions in film and TV,” said the QI host. “WGGB’s Equality Writes campaign is a vital one, and one that I – as a member – wholeheartedly support.”

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“All we’re asking for is a meritocracy for all writers regardless of gender, race, disabilities or class,” said WGGB chair Gail Renard. “Let us into the meetings. Read our pitches. Work with us. We all have glorious stories to tell. Let us tell them.”