Who we are
ERA 50:50’s campaign aim is to inspire British film, television and theatre to lead the way and implement equal gender balance on screen and stage across their drama and comedy slates by 2020. We ask that casting and creative decisions made by commissioners, programme makers and distributors are held up to a basic requirement of a 50:50 gender balance across their yearly content.
Gender equality on stage and screen by 2020: ERA 50:50 want women to be represented on stage and screen in a way that reflects the full extent and diversity of their presence in the real world. We want to work with industry partners and celebrate the successes of innovative organisations that are committing to equal representation and work with industry partners and government to accelerate change.
Why is this important?
TV, Film and theatre are three of the most influential communication channels used by society. Research has proven that what people see on screen shapes their attitudes, ambitions and their values. Yet, on stage and screen, women are underrepresented and, when they do appear, they are often represented wholly inaccurately. In fact TV, Film and theatre collectively projects a grossly distorted view of our real world, one where women have a reduced value, agency and presence. Currently, the UK comprises 51% women and 49% men however;
- Men outnumber women by 2:1 in acting roles on our screens
- Men outnumber women 3:1 on UK children’s television
- Women make up only 17% of characters in crowd scenes
- According to the BFI, there were more women on UK screens in 1913
- There is no trajectory of improvement; this 2:1 stat is consistent even in very recent years.
- Women speak less on stage and screen, have less agency in stories, are much more likely to play victims
- Research conducted by Stephen Follows in ‘Are Men in Romantic Films Older than Women’ found it is not unusual for women to be paired on screen with men often 20 years their senior as opposed to the real world where in the UK, a third of couples are 1 year apart in age. The average age difference of a couple is 2-3 years. Also http://www.vulture.com/2013/04/leading-men-age-but-their-love-interests-dont.html
- A snapshot of an Analysis of ‘Film Dialogue’ across 2000 modern screenplays tells us that men aged 32 to 41 spoke 44million words but women in the same age group only 18million words. Older men, between the ages of 42-65 had 54 million words to say. In contrast 42-65 year old women, were reduced to a ‘murmur’ with only 11 million words between them.
- According to Stacey Smith, sometimes in animation, females are so thin that their waist size approximates the circumference of their upper arm – ‘they have no room for womb’ or any other internal organ
- Even in Disney’s princess films, including Pixar, guys speak more than girls.
- Women effectively disappear after from our screens and stages after 40. https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/older-women-hollywood_us_56cb4312e4b041136f17a2ce
- Women are often portrayed as the victim of violent and sexual crime. Rashid Manjoo, a UN special rapporteur who wrote a 4,000 word report on gender inequality in Britain took a look at sexual violence in the media. She said ‘Have I seen this level of violence in other countries? It certainly hasn’t been so in your face. It wasn’t so much or so pervasive.
- The BBC commissioned 32 men and eight women to write drama for broadcast in 2017; four of those eight women were working on adaptations. Channel 4 has transmitted only two prime-time original drama series created by a woman since 2004
- In 2017, of BBC comedy pilots and online, only 4 out of 22 produced programmes were written by women (3 /4 being writer performers)
- In 2017 no produced Comedy programming on ITV was written or directed by a woman.
- Less than 10% of feature films are made by women.
The Influence of Stage and Screen:
- The Geena Davis institute in the US found that the more hours of television a child watches, the more devastating the outcomes. For male children, more television viewing corresponds to more sexist views.
- There was over 100% increase in girls taking up archery when the Hunger Games was on.
- One third of people applying to become forensic scientists said they did so because they loved programmes like CSI and Silent Witness
- There was a 17% increase in UCAS applications to train to be midwives after Call The Midwife’s first series. 17% after a TV programme.
The vast majority of actresses working in television, film and theatre struggle with lack of opportunity. Compared to men, many women find it impossible to sustain meaningful and economically viable careers into their forties and beyond and find themselves faced with an early retirement and uncertain future. The business squanders talent and their rich CV’s, excluding these women who fall off a fiscal cliff.
Without gender balance, women of all ages go underrepresented in British broadcasting/film and theatre. This industry wide distortion of our society excludes an audience that make up 51% of the population. This damages how women are viewed and valued and perpetuates a myth in younger generations that women have less currency.
This is detrimental to women who want to be productive artists throughout their lifetimes and detrimental to an audience who want to see themselves accurately and meaningfully represented in what they watch.
To achieve greater equality in representation and pay by 2020.
- To grow ERA’s membership within the profession by the end of 2017.
- To launch an ERA campaign with a public meeting and panel discussion in the autumn of 2017.
- To publicise the ‘ERA 50:50’ campaign as widely as possible through social media and media outlets.
- To engage in productive dialogue regarding more employment of more female performers and offer / discuss solutions with writers, directors, producers, commissioners, and casting directors.
- Encourage writers and production companies at the commissioning stage to strive for more gender parity where possible in order to re-mould the current male preference and present a more balanced narrative.
- Adoption of NEROPA casting tool Casting tool Neropa – Neutral Roles Parity by German actress Belinde Ruth Stieve (official website, English version) Short summary of Neropa available here
- Encourage casting choices that show women in their 40’s and 50’s and beyond, cast age appropriately, where they can be seen to partner men of the same age on screen.
- The Largest Ever Analysis of Film Dialogue from 2,000 screenplays broken down by Gender and Age
- How Sweden hits its 50:50 gender target for film production in record time
- Gender matters in Australian film and equality can’t come soon enough
- National Theatre commits to gender equality by 2021
- Lucy Kerbel: ‘Gender equality is everyone’s duty’
- Waking the Feminists event takes over the Abbey Theatre
- Sorry, Ladies: Study on Women in Film and Television Confirms The Worst
- 20 Facts Everyone Should Know About Gender Bias in Movies
- New statistics show severe lack of gender parity in theatre and screen
- Radio Times: “Peter Capaldi says sexist tv should reflect society better”
- Geena Davis Institute: “Gender bias without borders”
- The Guardian: “Glenda Jackson laments continuing lack of key acting roles for women”
- The Guardian: “Women are everywhere so why are we invisible on film?”
- Belinde Stieve – An Actresses Thoughts on Women in TV and Film
- Sarah Solemani: ‘The TV and film industries are toxic – and it starts in the audition room’
- Kate Hardie: Time to make the link between abuse and film content
A message of support from #WakingTheFeminists: “#WakingTheFeminists is a grassroots movement calling for equality for women across the Irish theatre sector. We are proud to raise our voices alongside the women and men internationally who believe that fair and equal representation in the arts can only lead to a richer culture. As such, WTF stands in solidarity with Equal Representation for Actresses and supports their demand for equality for female performers.”