ITV’s head of comedy says the broadcaster will no longer commission comedy shows with all-male writing staffs.
Speaking at Channel 4’s Diverse Festival in Bradford, UK, Saskia Schuster said she realized last year that too many of her comedy shows were made up of an all-male writing staff.
“Too often the writing room is not sensitively run. It can be aggressive and slightly bullying,” Schuster said.
Schuster has now changed ITV’s contracts so any shows that are commissioned or recommissioned “must aim towards 50:50 gender representation,” she said.
Schuster took note of that fact that for every script she received from a female writer, she got five from men.
Dubbed her Comedy 50:50 project, Schuster set up a database which currently has details of 460 female writers after hearing complaints from producers that “there aren’t any female writers [or] we don’t know where to find them.”
Schuster runs events in which producers are required to have 10-minute conversations with three female writers. She also has set up confidence workshops and is launching a mentoring network next month.