Wednesday, September 27, 2023

Women in View report finds female leadership key to creating gender balance

The latest ​Women in View On Screen report finds that while the number of women employed on Canadian film and television productions is growing, they are still significantly under-employed, particularly when it comes to women of colour and Indigenous women.

The 2019 report examined more than 5,000 publicly-funded contracts issued in television – between 2014-17 – and film between 2015-17. And for the first time includes data on women of colour and Indigenous women, and analysis of showrunners and broadcasters in TV, and producers in film. 

The report found that between 2014-17, women’s share of television writing, directing and cinematography contracts increased by 11%, from 17% to 28%. Between 2015-17, women’s share of feature film writing, directing and cinematography contracts increased 5%, from 20% to 25%.

When it comes to women of colour, 1.18% of television contracts and 4% of film contracts went to women of colour in 2017. Of the 3,206 television contracts issued between 2014 and 2017, 42 went to women of colour. Of 1,637 film contracts issued from 2015-17, 29 went to women of colour. The volume of directing work for women of colour grew almost 5% in television but stagnated in film.

Indigenous women’s participation in television fell to 0% in 2017 and held steady at 1% in film. Of the 3,206 television contracts issued during the four-year period, 22 went to Indigenous women. Of 1,637 film contracts issued over three years, 12 went to Indigenous women. The volume of directing work for Indigenous women grew 2% in film and stagnated in TV.

Female leadership key to creating gender balance

One of the report’s most revealing findings is that women’s creative leadership is key to unlocking gender balance and greater diversity.

  • On TV series with women showrunners, 50% of the writing, directing and cinematography contracts went to women and 50% to men. When men showran, 86% of the work went to men. When teams that included a man and a woman showran, 41% of contracts went to women.
  • When women of colour and Indigenous women showran a TV series, not only was there gender balance, there was also far greater diversity among the writers, directors and cinematographers employed.
  • On feature films produced by women nearly 35% of contracts went to women.
  • On feature films produced by men, less than 20% of contracts went to women.

Gender balance by region

The report also looked at gender balance by region, finding that Atlantic Canada and Ontario have reached gender parity for directors.

  • In 2017, half of all Telefilm-funded projects in Atlantic Canada went to women directors – up from 28.6% in 2015.
  • In 2017, half of all Telefilm-funded projects in Ontario went to women directors. Ontario demonstrated the greatest participation for women of colour and Indigenous women. 12.7% of projects funded between 2015-17 were directed by women of colour. 3.8% were directed by Indigenous women.
  • Between 2015-17, in Western Canada, 23.7% projects funded were directed by women. 3.39% were directed by women of colour and 1.69% by Indigenous women.
  • Quebec lagged behind other regions in terms of gender balance. From 2015-17, 16.8% of projects were directed by women. One film was directed by a woman of colour and two by Indigenous women.

The gender balance regionally for film producers is less encouraging in some areas:

  • Atlantic Canada has a slightly lower percentage of women-produced projects than the other regions at 28.6%, but with no diversity.
  • Ontario has the largest number of women of colour-produced projects at 9.09%.
  • While Quebec has the lowest number of films directed by women, it has the largest percentage of women-produced projects of all the regions at 35.1%.
  • Western Canada follows a familiar pattern. 35% of the projects are produced by women but with little diversity and no Indigenous women-produced projects.

Women In View says on independently produced CMF-funded TV series, gender balance between broadcasters differed significantly. Between 2014-17, the percentage of contracts awarded to women in writing, directing and cinematography at APTN was 27.3%, CBC 26.9%, Corus 17.8%, Rogers Media 16.1% and Bell Media 15.7%.

The report says setting public, quantifiable hiring targets works. In 2016, CBC made a commitment to work towards hiring at least 50% women directors on all scripted television series. The result was a 15% increase in women’s share of directing work in a single year.

Jill Golick, executive director of Women In View, says while the numbers may seem dismal, there are enough experienced and credited women showrunners, writers, directors and producers to take on 50% of the work.

“Broadcasters and other employers can take the industry to 50:50 in the next two years. There are many qualified women, they just have to hire them,” said Golick.

The report’s recommendations to achieve gender balance and greater diversity include committing 50% of creative leadership roles to women; committing to the inclusion of women of colour and Indigenous women; setting concrete measurable and public targets; opening the doors to new and under-represented talent; and balancing funding across men and women.

Since 2012, Women In View has tracked the engagement of women writers, directors and cinematographers in Canada’s publicly-funded film and television industry. The 2019 report covers 90 television series funded by CMF between 2014-17, and 267 film productions and 831 development projects funded by Telefilm Canada between 2015 and 2017. The report was produced with the financial support of Ontario Creates, Canadian Media Producers Association–BC Producers Branch, ACTRA Toronto, ACTRA National and Bell Media.


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Connie Thiessen
Connie Thiessen
Connie has worked coast-to-coast as a reporter, editor, anchor and host at CKNW and News 1130 in Vancouver, News 95.7 and CBC in Halifax, and CFCW Edmonton, among other stations. With a passion for music, film and community service, she led News 95.7 to a 2013 Atlantic Journalism Award and regional RTDNA award for Best Radio Newscast. More recently, she was nominated for Music Journalist of the Year at Canadian Music Week 2019. To report a typo or error please email -

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