Directors Gurinder Chadha and Jane Campion have pledged their support to a UK scheme for women in film launched this week by industry agency Women in Film and Television and distributor United International Pictures (UIP).

Titled Directing Change, the scheme will allow women directors to work alongside an experienced and internationally recognised feature director on upcoming productions.

"It is our hope that this scheme will become an established route for women directors looking to break in to big budget features," said Jane Cussons, chief executive of Women in Film and Television.

According to last year's census by training body Skillset, women represented 46% of the total industry workforce, but filled less than ten per cent of the more technical roles in camera, lighting, sound and special effects.

The aim of Directing Change is to help emerging feature directors build mainstream careers and breakthrough the so-called celluloid ceiling. Two women with proven directorial experience in any medium will be chosen annually and receive support for expenses during their placement.

Also backing the scheme are Alan Parker, Anthony Minghella, Mike Newell, Stephen Frears, Michael Apted, Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner of Working Title Films and Andrew Eaton and Michael Winterbottom of Revolution Films. The initiative is to be launched on Thursday May 8 at UIP in Golden Square, London.

"Ideally Directing Change will become the first small but very significant step towards redressing the imbalance of female film directors working in our industry today," said Stewart Till, UIP's chairman and chief executive officer.