In news that will cause waves in the UK and could ripple to other countries, ITV’s head of comedy has said the company will no longer commission shows with all-male writers.
The ban even extends to teams that have just one “token woman”.
Saskia Schuster, said, “Too often the writing room is not sensitively run.
“It can be aggressive and slightly bullying.”
After reviewing the make-up of the comedy shows that ITV was making, she found that while on screen representation was fairly equal, on the writing teams, women were largely unrepresented.
Schuster said she was only receiving one script submission from a female writer for every five scripts written by a male.
In Australia filmmaker Rachel Ward has previously advocated, “I don’t believe any more in the adage best person for the job. Nothing will change for women in the industry unless action is gender focused, for a time, in order for women to catch up. We need to organise and consolidate our power bases as men have done for so long.”
In 2016 Screen NSW (now Create NSW) ruled all TV drama series must include female key creatives on their team in order to receive development or production finance.
But are blanket “bans” in an organic medium better than taking a pro-active approach? And where do bans stop…?
In 2015 Screen Australia announced a Gender Matters suite of initiatives to address the gender imbalance within the Australian screen industry.
Last year Schuster founded a Comedy 50:50 initiative to get more women into writing for comedy, as well as creating an independent database of female writers, regular networking and mentoring opportunities.
ITV has also been under pressure over it Duty of Care around Reality TV shows.