Establishing gender equality in the film industry

Based on the study on gender inequality in the film industry “Where are the women directors in European films? Gender equality report on female directors (2006-2013)” (lien vers EWA Research), EWA Network has drawn up a set of good practices addressed to public audiovisual funding bodies, broadcasters and film schools across Europe.

The way forward

There is almost universal recognition that more female-directed films in circulation would impact on the representation of women, promote equality and encourage tolerance in our society. Furthermore, the most important way to encourage women to direct is by showing more of their films on television and cinema screens.

There is broad support for policy change including measures to:

  • Address the under-representation of female directors in educational programmes;
  • Equalise the distribution of public funds;
  • Achieve equal representation and greater awareness on commissioning boards;
  • Incentivise producers to support female directors;
  • Provide much greater support and a targeted strategy for publicity, advertising and distribution.



The European Commission and the European Parliament urgently address equality agendas in the audiovisual industry.


All European supranational film and audiovisual funds, in particular Creative Europe’s MEDIA Sub-programme, noting and emulating where appropriate the Council of Europe’s initiatives, should actively address gender equality issues in all their policies, measures and support programmes: these should include training, distribution, exhibition, festivals and audience support, as well as media literacy initiatives.


In any future revision of the European Union’s E-Commerce Directive or the AVMS Directive attention should be given to improving measures for gender equality and the visibility of female-directed films and audiovisual works.


Member funds of pan-European associations, such as the EFAD (European Film Agency Directors), and CineRegio (Association of European Regional Film Funds), drawing on the expertise of EFARN (European Film Agency Research Network) and/or the European Audiovisual Observatory (EAO), should do their best to adopt a common approach to data gathering and analysis on gender equality by their members through agreed common indicators and standardised sets of data, as well as committing to the publication of this data on a regular basis and the exchange of best practice.


These organisations should be strongly encouraged to dedicate a section of their websites to the issue of gender equality where the results of the research and studies undertaken at European or national level can be published.


The European Broadcasting Union should encourage its members to agree common indicators to analyse gender equality in programme output, commissions and acquisitions, with regard to female directors, and this data should be monitored and published on a regular basis in order to track trends and progress.


The International Association of Film and Television Schools (CILECT) should encourage all members to maintain and monitor statistics on gender equality regarding applicants as well as graduates; to ensure gender equality amongst teaching staff; and to ensure greater visibility for female directors in all curricula and source materials.


National film institutes should review gender equality and adopt action plans to include:

  1. Adequate systems for data gathering and analysis on gender equality for film directors, with results being monitored and published on an annual basis. Statistics should include data on applications as well as awards;
  2. Initiatives to raise awareness and promote debate on the issue of women’s marginalisation and image misrepresentation in the media, in particular aimed at investors, producers and distributors;
  3. 5-year targets for all funding schemes (excepting those for first-time directors) to achieve an equal share of funding for female directors, to be averaged over 3-year periods in order to take into account annual variations in applications;
  4. Programmes for first-time directors allocating an equal share of funding to female directors with immediate effect;
  5. An equal share of funding for all schemes targeting first-time directors;
  6. Consideration, where applicable, of female directors’ particular trajectory through the industry with regard to targeted funds for development and support for new directors;
  7. Recommendations on adding childcare as a line in production budgets;
  8. Increased support for publicity, advertising and distribution strategies for female- directed films with particular attention to the distinctive needs of first, second and subsequent productions;
  9. Lobbying to encourage investors and cinema owners/programmers to work for gender equality in film investment and exhibition.

Audiovisual funds covering more than one European country, such as the Nordisk Film & TV Fond in the Nordic countries, and regional funds within countries, should also review gender equality and adopt action plans in the same manner as national film institutes.


National regulatory bodies with responsibility for media and broadcasting, both private and public, terrestrial and online, should adopt measures to encourage gender equality and visibility for works by female directors, including developments in video-on-demand (VOD) and subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) platforms.


Public service broadcasters should review policies for gender equality and adopt action plans to include: Targets to achieve a minimum 40% share for female directors of feature-length dramas and documentaries of over 60 minutes; Equal gender representation in commissioning and funding committees.


Measures should be taken to monitor and increase the visibility of female-directed films in school curricula, school film clubs, cinematheques and video-on-demand services.


All commissioning bodies, policy-making boards, selection panels and juries should be composed on the basis of gender parity.


Further research should be funded, whether through national or regional organisations, to include:

  1. Case-study research with female directors of different generations to further our understanding of women’s trajectory in the profession;
  2. Analysis of the way gender impacts on investor and commissioning decision- making;
  3. Analysis of the route to the market for female-directed films, including a focus on the effectiveness of support for publicity, advertising and the validity of distribution strategy.

On the basis of EWA’s findings, we recommend that symposia should be held in each country, with key stakeholders being invited, to raise awareness, to identify and systematise data-gathering needs and to agree targeted action plans.

EWA Network is ready to co-operate on an advisory basis with industry and institutional actors in the implementation of this report’s recommendations.