A new report commissioned by the Writers’ Guild of Great Britain (WGGB) and funded by ALCS shows the full scale of under-representation of women writers in film and TV, as well as the career progression barriers they face.

Among other significant statistics, the report reveals:

  • Only 11% of UK feature films were predominantly female-written
  • Only 16% of all working screenwriters in film in the UK are female
  • Only 28% of UK TV episodes were predominantly female-written
  • Only 14% of prime-time TV is predominantly female-written

The role of women in the film and television industry is a topic that has garnered a lot of attention in the past year, from the start of the Time’s Up movement to the release of critically-acclaimed, female-written and directed, Lady Bird. Now, an independent report has revealed that the under-representation of female writers is an unfortunate pillar in the UK film and TV industry.

Evidence gathered in the report, entitled Gender Inequality and Screenwriters: A study of the impact of gender on equality of opportunity for screenwriters and key creatives in the UK film and television industries shows female writers are vastly under-represented in the UK film and TV industry and that there has been no significant improvement over the past 10 years. The report suggests unconscious bias among hirers and a lack of formal or open hiring systems are among some of the reasons for this imbalance. This ingrained gender-bias has helped shape, and even encourage, unfair workplace and hiring practices that favour men and consistently discourage women from joining the industry.

WGGB President and BAFTA-nominated writer Olivia Hetreed (Girl with a Pearl Earring) said:

“I have been asked about the dearth of female screenwriters in this country ever since my first feature film put me into that endangered species bracket. I and others were reassuring: ‘It’s just a matter of time. It’s getting better. It will work itself out.’ But more than a decade later, this new research shows that the number of women writing films has flatlined at abjectly low levels (16% at best).

“Female-written films are more successful and more popular than average, but the new research explains why market forces don’t operate in the face of the risky financing and old-fashioned hiring practices of UK film-making. Faced with such clear evidence we expect that commissioners, especially public funders, will work much harder to give equal opportunities to women and other under-represented writers, who in turn will produce work reflecting all our hopes, fears and aspirations.”

WGGB General Secretary Ellie Peers said:

“This new independent research confirms that women screenwriters are still facing a glass ceiling, which is preventing them from getting the top writing jobs. Films and TV shows written by women in the UK have flatlined over the past decade and remain at a shockingly low level.

“Women make up over half the UK population, yet in film and TV they are an under-represented group, with as little as 14% of prime-time programming – excluding the soaps – being written by women.

“We’ve been told it’s ‘getting better’, but if more women are being commissioned than before, then prove it, give us the facts and share your data. No more excuses. Let’s have an open and honest debate about how we can collectively bring about positive change for all under-represented groups of writers in film and television.”

Barbara Hayes, Deputy CEO, ALCS said:

“ALCS is delighted to be supporting this report on Gender Inequality and Screenwriters. This research is important to creators as it is important that all are treated to the same opportunities in this profession. It is unacceptable that all writers do not have the same avenues open to them and we believe that this evidence and the potential solutions outlined will change this situation for the better in the future.”

The full report and campaign video is available to access at

Join the discussion on Twitter @TheWritersGuild using #WorkWithUs and #EqualityWrites.

The independent research Gender Inequality and Screenwriters: A study of the impact of gender on equality of opportunity for screenwriters and key creatives in the UK film and television industries was commissioned by the Writers’ Guild of Great Britain, funded by the Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society and authored by Alexis Kreager with Stephen Follows.