Organisations launch return-to-work training initiative for female TV directors.

Directors UK and BBC are piloting a new workshop aimed at women TV directors returning to work after a career break or repositioning their career.

Workshops will be followed by networking sessions attended by BBC commissioners and executives.

The workshops will be run by Helen Matthews from Media Parents and career development specialist Shiona Llewellyn and will be held on March 20 in London and and April 10 in Salford. 

The initiative is part of a drive from Directors UK to increase the number of women directors in the film and TV industries.

According to new Directors UK research, the number of women directors working in TV drama dropped significantly between 2008-12, averaging out at 8%. For some drama strands it was 0%.

The association is due to publish its report on women directors in the coming months.

Kate Harwood, BBC head of drama, England, commented: “Ben Stephenson and I are keen to drive this initiative encouraging and supporting women directors either returning to work or developing their careers across the industry. We believe this is the first step towards growing a more representative talent pool and we look forward to making a difference.”

In 2013, BBC head of creative resources Ian Critchley and talent executive Jo Hatley undertook research into hiring practices in BBC drama that was fed back to Directors UK as part of their collaboration.

Critchley told Broadcast: “As a result [of the research] and in partnership with DUK we plan to roll out a number of initiatives including; cv clinics, one day training events and networking sessions. In addition of course to any formal training for directors that the BBC Academy may offer. The most important cultural impact of the research really is an increased level of engagement in the BBC and hopefully the industry.”

Speaking at Broadcast and Screen’s Diversify event last year, producer and Women in Film and TV chair Elizabeth Karlsen said that childcare, male commissioning editors, women’s history being silenced and unconscious bias were all factors in the lack of women director across the film and TV industries.

The picture is equally bleak in the film industry. BFI research has highlighted that men accounted for 92.2% of directors on UK films in 2012, an increase of more than 7% year-on-year.