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Men are three times as likely as women to be directors within factual TV, with female creatives more likely to remain in lower-paid production jobs, according to a study from We Are Doc Women.

In a survey of almost 700 people with established editorial roles in unscripted production, the peer support group for female directors, just 27% of the directors polled were women, who were also in the minority among producer/directors (44%), despite many factual shows employing more than one director.

By contrast, three-quarters (76%) of researchers were women, 59% of assistant producers and 70% of producers.

We Are Doc Women is calling for both broadcasters and indies to commit to a 50% quota of female directors across their factual output, and for broadcasters and SVoDs to publish details of the gender breakdown of key editorial staff on all factual productions.

Becoming a director did not necessarily lead to more directing work for those women polled: 48% said they were still regularly offered lower-paid non-directing work and were actively encouraged to stick to producing. By contrast, 31% of male directors continued to be offered non-directing roles. There was also a perception that women are less likely to direct ‘prestigious’ or ‘landmark’ films.

The report points to women typically working longer hours for lower pay, with directors earning on average £1990 per week compared to £1250 for producers. An additional issue is that unlike directors, producers do not receive royalties.

“This is a highly gendered situation that has been allowed to go on far too long. Women are completely sick of being offered to produce men’s films, do all the emotional labour and all the producing, and walk away with minimal credit AND not having increased their chances of getting a directing credit.”
Female producer

We Are Doc Women identified three barriers to women wanting to direct: men are more perceived as directors, while women are perceived as producers; treated differently if they are mothers; and a lack of opportunity to progress.

This is starkly different to the barriers for men, primarily not having the right contacts, or being pigeonholed.

These barriers to progression start early: 40% of men had been offered a shooting role while working at researcher level, compared to 23% of women, who typically had to wait until they were assistant producers for such an opportunity. Nearly three times more women than men said they were always asked to provide female examples before they were offered the chance to shoot.


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