Report: Women still under-represented in TV industry
September 1, 2021
A report from the European Audiovisual Observatory reveals that women are still under-represented in the TV fiction industry in Europe.
This report provides an assessment of the gender imbalance within six audiovisual professional categories in European TV fiction.
Key highlights include:
- Women directors collaborated with other directors more often than their male counterparts, and quite often in gender-balanced teams.
- Writers of European TV fiction worked in large groups which were either male-driven or gender balanced.
- For lead roles, data limits made the analysis more delicate (This category analysis builds on IMDb information which provides generally the names for 4 actors, although sometimes even more than 4 names are given. A sample test by the Observatory seems to prove that these 4 names correspond to the first four lead roles). The results were not clear enough to understand who is playing the principal roles. It was clearly an activity performed in groups and teams appeared quite gender balanced.
- Producers worked mainly alone or when teaming up, it was in gender-balanced teams.
- In European TV fiction, cinematographers were mainly men and they work either alone or with other men.
- For composers too, data showed mainly men and working alone; but there were more women hidden in male-driven teams than the opposite.
A deeper dive into the data:
1. Directors of European TV fiction
Between 2015 and 2019, female directors represented 20 per cent of active directors of audiovisual fiction episodes and TV films in the EU (including UK), and this share grew by 5 per cent in that period.
The weighted share of female directors in audiovisual fiction was lower, representing 16 per cent. This is explained by the fact that women were less likely to be the sole director of a work.
Although women were proportionally more likely than men to work in gender-mixed teams, most of these teams were led by men: the share of audiovisual fiction episodes directed by female‑driven teams were just 15 per cent. (‘Female-driven’ refers to works in which at least 60 per cent of team members were women. Works by female-driven teams can be made either: by one individual female; by several female professionals; or by teams of professionals of both genders with a female presence of at least 60 per cent.)
2. Writers of European TV fiction
Between 2015 and 2019, women accounted for 35 per cent of active writers of audiovisual fiction in the EU. However, a woman was less likely the sole writer of an episode or a TV film. Therefore, the weighted share of female writers of audiovisual fiction was lower, representing 33 per cent.
The share of episodes written by female-driven teams was only 24 per cent, because female writers were proportionally more likely than male colleagues to co-write audiovisual fiction and when they did, it was often within teams with a male majority.
Some 68 per cent of TV fiction titles were the work of writers’ teams, of which 36 per cent were written by writers of both genders and 13 per cent by gender-balanced teams of writers.
In all professional categories considered, female professionals are proportionally more likely than men to work in gender-mixed teams.
On average, women in all groups were slightly less active than their male counterparts. For instance, 91 per cent of female directors only directed one single film, compared for 86 per cent for men.
For these reasons, when considering the share of women weighted by the total number of professionals (directors or screenwriters) for each film or episode, the results are lower than the share of active female professionals in each sub-group. However, significant differences can be observed across countries and professional categories.
3. Lead roles in European TV fiction
Between 2015 and 2019, women accounted for 43 per cent of active actors in a lead role in audiovisual fiction titles in the EU, although the weighted share of women among lead roles was 45 per cent.
The share of episodes played by female-driven teams was only 22 per cent. Female and male actors were equally involved in co-playing leading roles in audiovisual fiction titles, but mixed teams were either gender-balanced or with a male majority.
4. Producers of European TV fiction
Women accounted for 41 per cent of all active producers of European TV films and high-end TV series (high-end TV series in this report refer to TV series counting 2 to 13 episodes per season) between 2015 and 2019, growing 7 per cent in the period, and the weighted share of women among producers was 43 per cent.
The share of titles by female-driven production teams was 36 per cent, as women working alone produced fewer titles than men but also, when producing in teams, they were often part of a gender-balanced team of producers.
5. Cinematographers of European TV fiction
Women accounted for just 8 per cent of all cinematographers of European TV Films and high-end TV series active between 2015 and 2019, and the weighted share of audiovisual titles by female cinematographers was 7 per cent.
The share of AV titles by female-driven cinematographers was only 7 per cent, since in most cases a unique professional signed the DOP, and it was mostly men.
Directors of Photography (DOPs) worked normally as the sole cinematographer of the titles in which they worked and were mainly men.
6. Composers of music for European TV fiction
Women accounted for only 7 per cent of all composers of music for European TV films and high-end TV series active between 2015 and 2019, but the share grew from 5 per cent in 2015 to 8 per cent in 2019.
The weighted share of female composers in TV fiction was 6 per cent.
The share of audiovisual titles by female-driven composer teams was only 5 per cent, since when women composed music for a TV film or TV episode in teams, it was only in gender-balanced or in male-majority teams of composers.