Caroline Watson, Co-founder of Progressive Women, writes our latest blog. Follow Progressive Women on twitter @sylviapankhurst
Don’t get me wrong I love Brucie and Terry Wogan. I agree that they are national institutions and I was disappointed that Graham Norton replaced our Tel on Eurovision depriving us of his sarcastic yet hilarious commentary.
As long as they continue to entertain us I hope they’ll continue to be on our tellies. However, I’d love to see more mature women too. On Children In Need Angela Rippon graced us with her presence. But why isn’t she still on prime time TV? Instead we have the young and beautiful opposite the wise older men – Holly and Philip, Bruce and Tess, Adrian and Christine (well until recentlly), Louis and Gary get twenty somethings Tulisa and Kelly (oh apparently Kelly is actually 30) and lucky old Terry had three young and beautiful women to guest present with him on Children In Need.
This Friday WFTV (Women in Film and Television) celebrate women’s contribution to the sector. Their website is a wealth of knowledge and data on the industry which only goes to substantiate what we’re already guessing from the faces we see on primetime TV. Oh and by the way, for anyone who says ‘but people want to see young women on TV’, well yes I do, but I also want to see a diverse range of men and women on TV, old, young and middle aged. Let’s see a bit more of reality. One of the more successful day time programmes of the last few years has been Loose Women, because women relate to other women who are of a similar age and background.
This is just the tip of the iceberg. The stats suggest that if a woman isn’t young and pretty enough to be on screen she’ll struggle to to find a place behind the camera too.
According to WTFV a woman is more likely to hold a seat on a Fortune 500 company (15%) than direct a Hollywood movie (7%). There is a fascinating study conducted by Stacy L. Smith which looks at women’s roles on screen and behind for 100 top grossing Hollywood films in 2007. What she found was that women are significantly under-represented.
Smith found that only 29.9% of the 4379 speaking characters were female. 83% of directors, producers and writers were male. The number of female actors increased with the number of women directors or co-directors.
Does it matter? Or is worrying about the role of women in media trivial? Women on screen are role models, helping shape young females ideas of what they can be, and how women are generally valued in society. The absence of older women gives a message that women are not valued in society after a certain age. The absence of women in the industry suggests there are barriers towards women’s participation and also impacts the experiences that are portrayed in the content on our screens.
The WFTV awards this week are a great opportunity to celebrate the strong contribution from women in the media and to promote the contribution that women are making. To find out more about the awards and the work of WFTV go to http://www.wftv.org.uk/wftv/
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