Canadian women are significantly underrepresented in key creative and content-creating roles in Canada’s TV production industry. This means the stories and values communicated through the influential and far-reaching medium of television are badly skewed, according to a report released today by non-profit organization Women in View. In its report Women in View on TV 2013, the organization examined 21 Canadian live action television series, which, in 2010-2011, received a total of $99.1 million in public funding by the government’s Canada Media Fund. Productions examined include Being Erica, Flashpoint, The Listener, Rookie Blue, Republic of Doyle, The Borgias, Heartland, Murdoch Mysteries, Hiccups, Lost Girl, and Little Mosque on the Prairie.
Key findings from Women in View on TV 2013 include:
- Of the 272 episodes these 21 series represent, 84 per cent of directors were men, 16 per cent were women.
- 11 of the 21 series did not employ a single woman director on any of their episodes.
- No series employed a woman cinematographer.
- No racialized minority women were employed as directors in any of the 21 series.
- 36 per cent of the screenwriters were women; 64 per cent were men.
- 13 of the 21 series employed no racialized minorities or First Nations writers or directors of either sex.
“This report demonstrates the extent to which Canadian television content lags behind the diversity of contemporary Canadian culture,” says Rina Fraticelli, Executive Director, Women in View. “Who is employed behind the camera determines who and what we get to see on screen.”
These employment figures don’t seem to discourage graduates of Canada’s many film and media arts programs. Dr. Charles Davis, professor at Ryerson University in the School of Radio and Television Arts, says that those who enter the film and television industry do so with passion and optimism, despite exclusionary practices in matters of gender, race and age.
“I would like to believe that talent and hard work will pay off in terms of opportunities for people to earn a living in this industry; yet, it is well known that the screenwriting profession poorly reflects the diversity of society and is much more hospitable to white middle-aged males than to women, racialized minorities and seniors,” Davis says. “Despite the emphasis of Canadian cultural policy on the development and telling of screen stories that reflect all Canadians, the directing, cinematography and screenwriting occupations in this country are dominated by middle-aged white men.”
Liz Shorten, Managing Vice-President, Operations and Member Services for the Canadian Media Production Association-BC Producers’ Branch, and Board Member of Women in View, emphasizes that the gender disparity in key creative roles does not mean the existing pool of talent is lacking in skills.
“I hope this report brings about greater recognition of the lack of representation for women and minorities and highlights the creative talent we do have and the need to nurture and grow that talent,” Shorten says from Vancouver. “If industry can embrace this as a key issue, I believe it will benefit from tapping into more diverse storytelling and women’s perspectives.”