ITV’s head of comedy, Saskia Schuster has announced that she will refuse to greenlight any projects on her network unless the writing staff of the show is evenly split between men and women. According to the BBC, Schuster said the move has done to “combat the boys’ club that pervades the world of comedy, where the storied writer’s rooms on sitcoms and late night shows often consist entirely or mostly of men.”
Schuster recently launched “Comedy 50:50,” an initiative aimed at connecting women to more opportunities in comedy and working toward gender parity.
She said that she began thinking about the issue last year, when she took a hard look at shows on her own network and found that “an awful lot of my comedy entertainment shows are made up of all-male writing teams,”.
“For every five scripts sent to be written by a man, I’d get one script written by a woman,” Schuster wrote. “Female writers aren’t being hired onto writing teams because they can’t compete with male writers who commonly have accumulated more writing credits. This reflects the longstanding culture of comedy being male-dominated.”
As part of the Comedy 50:50 initiative, Schuster has created a database of female comedy writers that male producers and executives will have to use if they want their projects to continue on the network. Schuster claims that her initiative is not simply aimed at hiring more women or hitting gender quotas but she is determined to change the male-dominated culture of comedy.