UK TV Industry Sees Alarming Dip In Women In Senior Roles Since Pandemic

UK TV Industry Sees Alarming Dip In Women In Senior Roles Since Pandemic

July 6, 2023

The proportion of women in senior roles in UK TV has dipped alarmingly since the Covid-19 pandemic, with women making up just a quarter of writers and one third of directors during the past year.

In eyebrow-raising stats unveiled in diversity data monitor Diamond’s latest report, representation of women in senior roles was shown to have dropped every year for the past four years to 45.4%, with the largest fall coming during the main pandemic year while male representation remained pretty stable. “This suggests that men were less likely to be leaving the workforce during the pandemic, and that women have failed to return to senior roles,” said the Sixth Cut report from the UK’s Creative Diversity Network (CDN), which publishes Diamond.

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Coming at a time when scribes are striking across the U.S. in a bid for better conditions, the data showed that less than one third (32.4%) of writers last year were female, with this figure even lower – 25.3% – for directors. In terms of senior roles, women were only over-represented in heads of production and commissioning editor posts.

In key genres such as drama and children’s, women held just 45.1% and 35.6% of roles respectively for the year to July 2022, when the data was submitted.

For the first time, there were more than 1 million total UK TV contributions to Diamond last year, with shows on the BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Paramount UK network Channel 5, Sky and, for the first time, BBC Studios-owned UKTV all included.

Small signs of progress could be seen in other areas.

Last year’s report focused on a lack of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic people in senior roles and this improved over the 12 months, rising from 11.4% to 12.2%, while overall off-screen contributions for this group shot up to 13.9% – virtually level with national average. Key roles such as writer (8.7%), director (9.5%) and EP (8.7%) were still under-represented by people from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic backgrounds, however, according to the data.

Representation of disabled people remained stubbornly low in senior roles at 4.7% – miles below the circa-18% national average. On-screen representation fell disappointingly to 8.2% but off-screen rose to 6.5%. Genre-wise, disabled people were least represented in drama, at just 5.2%.

“Six years of Diamond reporting and analysis highlights stubborn areas across the industry, particularly in senior roles,” said Deborah Williams, the CDN’s Executive Director. “It’s clear that despite the initiatives that our members and the wider industry have put in place, there still remains a lot of work to be done to tackle systemic inequality across the sector.”

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