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Gender Matters

In a significant moment for the local screen industry, Screen Australia exceeded its long-term Gender Matters KPI, with 56% of projects receiving production funding having at least half of the key creative roles occupied by women, based on a three year average (2016/17 to 2018/19). The KPI was set in December 2015, originally aiming for 50%.

When the result was announced on 21 August 2019, Screen Australia Board member, chair of the Gender Matters Taskforce Joanna Werner noted, “Over three years ago we set out with the objective of better utilising the talents of Australia’s female screen creatives. Today’s results are an incredible milestone for both Screen Australia and the industry. This is by no means the finish line to achieving gender parity, particularly in writer and director roles, but today we celebrate that systemic change in our sector is well underway.”

The Gender Matters KPI was a measure of collaboration, indicating how many projects that received Screen Australia production funding had at least half of the key creative roles occupied by women. For the same three-year period, a headcount of the producers, writers and directors attached to the funded productions revealed 49% were women. The prevalence of female producers drove up the average.

However, there were notable improvements in specific roles, including 27% of directors attached to feature films being women in 2018/19 compared to only 10% in 2016/17. The number of female writers on features have also improved, but is still below parity at 27% in 2018/2019. The number of female directors attached to documentaries has increased every year since 2016/17, and exceeded parity (51%) in 2018/19.

With the conclusion of the original three-year KPI period, Screen Australia set a new Gender Matters target based on a headcount system. The new KPI is to have at least 50% of the key creatives across all projects that receive Screen Australia development and production funding to be women, across a three-year-average. For the new KPI, the key creatives are directors, writers and producers and the tracking period is 2019/20 to 2021/22.

At the time of announcing the new KPI, Screen Australia’s Head of Development Nerida Moore said, "The $5 million in targeted funding provided through Gender Matters in 2015/16 was an important and significant investment that has helped the industry take a huge step forward in addressing gender imbalance. Now our challenge is making sure that women are sharing equitably in the $65 million of funding Screen Australia’s Content Department disperses each year".

Unlike the original Gender Matters KPI, the new iteration will not include the role of protagonist, but Screen Australia will continue to collect this data and report on it annually. “Whoever is in control of the story will influence what we see on screen,” Nerida Moore continued. “As such over the last three years, the growth in female creatives has had a clear impact on the stories told, with 58% of funded drama productions in 2018/19 having a female protagonist.”

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Aside from television and documentary producing, updated industry-wide data released by Screen Australia revealed women still make up less than half of the writers, directors and producers in work.

There have been some small improvements, such as the proportion of female directors and producers working on feature films. However, there have also been declines in female writers in both feature dramas and documentary.

Screen Australia maintains an extensive data set exploring female participation in the screen industry in the Fact Finders section of the agency website.


 Gender Matters KPI

Key creative roles are producer, writer, director and (for drama titles only) protagonist.
Percentages are rounded to the nearest whole number.
Creative team roles are at the time of application and do not represent any subsequent revisions.
Changes in the funding status of an application e.g. due to a revocation, is updated retrospectively.
For two-stage application approval processes (EOI/LOI), the approval is only counted once if it occurred in the same financial year.
Applications are grouped according to Screen Australia production funding programs: all documentary applications are grouped together regardless of distribution. Figures include Screen Australia initiatives administered by third parties.
Producer Equity Program (PEP) documentary projects are excluded as they do not undergo creative assessment.
Application dataset is more expansive than the 2015 report Gender Matters: Women in the Australian Screen Industry, so is not directly comparable.
Data excludes one initiative where gender data was not collected and one application where the sole key creative chose not to disclose their gender.