The number of factual TV shows in the UK directed by women has gone backwards over the past two years despite a weighty campaign to improve gender representation.
According to research from the Diamond diversity data collector and featured in the We Are Doc Women campaign, the proportion of UK factual shows directed by women fell slightly to 24% between August 2019 and April 2022.
“It’s disappointing to see the overall number of women directors going down,” said a spokeswoman for the campaign group.”
There were, however, green shoots in We Are Doc Women’s research. For the year to April 2023, 47% of the shows of those who have signed the group’s 50/50 pledge were directed by women. Launched in October 2022, the pledge targets 50/50 gender representation by next year and counts the likes of the BBC, Channel 4, Amazon Prime Video, Louis Theroux’s Mindhouse Productions and Hilary Clinton’s HiddenLight amongst its signees.
The We Are Doc Women spokeswoman said it is “encouraging” to see so many organizations moving towards the pledge’s goal. “While across the industry there is immense financial pressure and difficulty at the moment, we hope diversity and inclusion will remain a priority,” she added. “We wouldn’t want to lose any more progress in gender equality in directing.”
We Are Doc Women was formed in 2017 following male-heavy BAFTA shortlists for Best Factual Director. BAFTA has since tweaked its TV Awards to enable more work by female directors to be seen and considered, and this year’s gong was scooped by Netflix‘s The Tinder Swindler helmer Felicity Morris, who beat off competiton from two other women and one man.
Diamond’s latest stats for the year to July 2022 showed that 26% of factual shows were directed by women, with that figure turned on its head for producers and APs. The lower researcher position was also female dominated, with 68% women representation.