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The US based Centre for the Study of Women in Television & Film has revealed it’s latest report on the number of women employed in TV both in front of and behind the camera. The latest ‘Boxed In’ report  shows that the figures of female employment in the US TV industries is down from previous years and that this has a direct impact on the numbers of women represented onscreen. The percentage of women writers on broadcast programmes dropped from 29% in 2009-2010 to 15% in 2010-2011. The number of women directors has also dropped from  16% in 2009-2010 to 11% in 2010-201. The report states that “programs with at least one woman creator or writer featured more female characters than programs with no women creators or writers.”

 

This study mirrors a similar picture here in the UK. Statistics produced by Skillset, the Sector Skills Council for the Creative Media Industries show that around 5000 women left the TV industry between 2006 – 2009. The research shows that women are significantly under-represented over the age of 35 across the industry and that of those that do work in the industry they are on average paid less, more qualified, and less likely to have children than their male counterparts. Click here to see the full report.

 

What’s going on? Is this a trend that’s specific to the TV industries or are we seeing a pattern that could potentially develop across all sectors? Are the creative industries leading the way in exposing the precarious position of female employers and what are the reasons behind them? I suspect that it has a lot to do with the time and context of the world that we are living in today. The recent financial crisis has exposed a lot of the imbalances that were covered up or silenced in the first 8 years of the 21st century. We do not yet have a system in place in the UK or the US that robustly supports female employees. What needs to be examined is what are the implications of this and what will be lost if one half of society are denied access to the working world?

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