Gender parity initiatives prove effective, but intersectional approach needed: report

The latest report from Women in View shows women continue to make gains in the film and TV industry, but clearly gaps remain when it comes to funding allocation and opportunities for non-white women.

women-in-view-graphic-01Industry initiatives have led to increased opportunities for women in Canada’s screen-based industry, but much work is needed to ensure equity for Black, Indigenous and women of colour, according to the latest findings from gender equity organization Women in View.

An executive summary of their latest On Screen report, published yesterday (March 25), shows that women have gained much ground in writing and directing in 2018 and 2019. Women made up 57% of TV writers in 2019 and 41% of film screenwriters, as well as 50% of TV directors and 40% of film directors. In comparison to 2017, women made up 43% of TV writing positions, 27% of TV directing roles, 29.8% of screenwriters and 31% of film directors.

The gains for Black, Indigenous and women of colour are evident as well, although less prominent.

In TV, Black women and women of colour accounted for 4.64% of writers and 12% of directors in 2019, compared to 0.87% of writers and 5% directors in 2017. Indigenous women accounted for 1.66% of writers and 0.88% of directors in 2019, compared to zero roles in either positions in 2017.

In film, Black women and women of colour represented 12% of screenwriters and 10% of directors, compared to 3.55% of screenwriters and 5% of directors in 2017. Indigenous women accounted for 3.7% of screenwriters and 4.44% of directors, compared to 1.77% of screenwriters and 2% of directors.

White women, on the other hand, accounted for 50% of TV writing roles, 37% of TV directors, 25% of screenwriters and 25% of film directors in 2019.

The report did note that the data for TV only accounts for scripted dramas funded by the Canada Media Fund (CMF) and does not include data from unscripted series, variety series, animated series, MOWs or children and youth programming. The film data comes from projects financed by Telefilm.


A key argument of the report is that the data shows how impactful gender equity initiatives have increased opportunities for women. Statistics show that roles for women in writing and directing were stagnant for several years, sharing 16% of the work in 2011, marginally increasing to 22% by 2016. However, that same year CBC and Telefilm rolled out their gender equity initiatives and, as a result, 2017 saw a single-year jump to 28%. The statistics sharply rose in the following years as more initiatives were announced.

The report goes on to argue that if the industry can fine-tune its initiatives to ensure Black, Indigenous and women of colour are hired and supported, more equitable gains will result in the years to come. The report also says the data clearly shows that when women are in leadership positions, they are far more likely to hire other women. Similarly, women of colour are more likely to hire other women of colour.

However, the effort does need to be industry-wide. The report also shows that only the organizations that have introduced initiatives by 2018 and 2019 have seen results. In the case of broadcasters, women represented approximately 52% of key creative roles in CBC projects (42% white women, 8.6% Black women and women of colour and 1.23% Indigenous women) in 2019.

In comparison, women made up roughly 21% of key creative roles for Bell Media (18% white women, 1.92% Black women and women of colour and 0.96% Indigenous women); 35% for Rogers Sports & Media (all white women); and approximately 31% for Corus Entertainment (27% white women and 3.74% Black women and women of colour; no Indigenous women).

The data also showed the inequality in the amount of funds distributed. In 2019 the average amount invested in projects produced by men was $752,059 – more than $200,000 over the general average of $550,458. In comparison, the average amount invested for projects produced by white women was $445,134; it fell to $392,497 for Black women and women of colour, and $266,666 for Indigenous women.

Women in View will publish the full On Screen 2021 report in April, including recommendations on how the industry can create equitable opportunities for all women.

Graphs by Women in View