Broadchurch and Life on Mars producer Jane Featherstone has demanded an end to unconscious bias and called for “collective responsibility” in tackling the problem of the under-representation of women writers in the screen industries.
Her calls for change come as she launches Radio Times‘ Women’s Words campaign, inspired by the report WGGB released in May which showed that only 16% of working film writers in the UK are female, and only 14% of prime-time TV is written by women.
Featherstone said industry needed to hire more women in order to change the status quo. “Men hire more men. It’s not just me saying that (although I am), it’s also a fact, as the report notes. But women hire more women,” she said.
She also urged hirers to question their own assumptions: “Do we really privately wonder if a dark thriller is meatier coming from a man, or whether a woman is truly able to get under the skin of a big political thriller?”
Tim Glanfield, the editor of RadioTimes.com, said: “There are some fantastic female voices working in drama and comedy, making some of the most memorable programmes of recent years. However, the Writers’ Guild statistics are stark and we feel, as Britain’s biggest television website, it is right for us to shine a spotlight on the issue and raise the profile of the next generation of female writers.”
WGGB General Secretary Ellie Peers said: “I am delighted to see our Equality Writes campaign inspire Radio Times’ Women’s Words. It is laudable that they are dedicating a week to shinning the spotlight on the issue of gender inequality in TV further. The figures we released earlier this year make depressing reading and our Equality Writes campaign continues apace to tackle the problems that are so endemic in the screen industries.”