Advanced Television

Survey: Only 20% women say they see women like themselves on screen

December 6, 2019

Research from Sky has revealed attitudes towards the representation of women in film and TV. Only one in five women say they often see women like themselves represented on screen, falling to one in ten for women aged over 65.

The survey findings suggest that the next generation may still find it hard to break the cycle, with less than half (38 per cent) of women surveyed believing there are positive female role models presented for young girls.

However, thanks to the work of organisations such as Women in Film and TV there are signs of improvement.

Almost three quarters (73 per cent) of women agree that representation has improved over the last ten years.

In the year that Arya Stark defeated the Night King in Game of Thrones, Ulana Khomyuk demanded the truth in Chernobyl and Captain Marvel flew on to the big screen, the characteristics respondents associated most with women on screen were ‘strong’ (37 per cent), ‘powerful’ (26 per cent) and ‘interesting’ (25 per cent).

While representation is improving, the research also revealed there is a strong business case to be made for the industry going further. Over a third of women (37 per cent) said they are more likely to watch films and television that feature women in leading roles, rising to 59 per cent among under 35s.

Other findings include:

  • Two fifths (41 per cent) of UK women do not think that women of all ethnic backgrounds are represented in film and television, rising to four fifths (77 per cent) among black women
  • Majority of women (65 per cent) said they felt female characters are often as complex and interesting as male characters
  • Women in the South West were the least likely to feel represented of any UK region, with only 15 per cent saying they often see women like themselves on screen

Debbie Klein, Sky’s Group Chief Marketing, Corporate Affairs and People Officer said: “It’s absolutely vital that we continue to improve representation of women on screen. Recognising and promoting talent, writing complex and interesting roles for women and giving priority to shows that tell stories viewers haven’t heard before. The best way to inspire the next generation of young women is to give them ground-breaking role models to look up to. One of the reasons we’re delighted to be a long-term sponsor of the Women in Film and TV Awards on 6 December is that they’re already highlighting the best work of these inspiring women.”


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