© 2018

Gender Inequality in Screenwriting Work


  • Marks the first in-depth study to examine the reasons behind continued gender inequality in filmmaking professions

  • Contains original research based on interviews with employers of screenwriters, as well as with a range of screenwriters themselves, some of whom have many produced films and awards

  • Written from the unique position of someone who has worked in senior roles within the UK film industry for many years but who also has a deep understanding of academic writing on film and creative industries


Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xv
  2. Natalie Wreyford
    Pages 17-52
  3. Natalie Wreyford
    Pages 53-85
  4. Natalie Wreyford
    Pages 111-146
  5. Natalie Wreyford
    Pages 147-167
  6. Natalie Wreyford
    Pages 169-191
  7. Back Matter
    Pages 211-216

About this book


This is the first book to critically examine the recruitment and working practices of screenwriters. Drawing on interviews with screenwriters and those that employ them, Natalie Wreyford provides a deep and detailed understanding of entrenched gender inequality in the UK film industry and answers the question: what is preventing women from working as screenwriters? She considers how socialised recruitment and gendered taste result in exclusion, and uncovers subtle forms of sexism that cause women’s stories and voices to be discounted.Gender Inequality in Screenwriting Work also reveals the hidden labour market of the UK film industry, built on personal connections, homophily and the myth of meritocracy. It is essential reading for students and scholars of gender, creative industries, film and cultural studies, as well as anyone who wants to understand why women remain excluded from many key roles in filmmaking.


women film creativity inequality cinema employment film industry jobs imagination injustice gender social change filmmaking

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.University of SouthamptonSouthamptonUK

About the authors

Natalie Wreyford is Research Fellow on “Calling the Shots: Women and Contemporary UK Film Culture” at the University of Southampton, UK. She completed her PhD at King’s College London. Prior to this, she worked in screenplay development for many years, including at Granada Films and the UK Film Council.

Bibliographic information


“This is an outstanding book, which unequivocally demonstrates the sexism still rife in the British film industry. Using a case detailed and engaging case study of screenwriting, the book punctures the ‘common sense’ of screenwriting, including the myths of meritocracy, the gendering of good taste, and the exclusion of motherhood. Beyond the richness of the empirical data, there is also an important theoretical contribution rethinking Bourdieu and gender for the study of creative industries. The book will act as a call to arms for those fighting for change, and the data and excellent analysis should shame those standing in the way.” (Dave O’Brien, The University of Edinburgh, Scotland)

“As a female screenwriter I’d like to applaud and thank Natalie Wreyford for writing this book. For too long, we’ve been told we’re exaggerating the problem and there is no real gender disparity in our industry. ... Now Natalie has proved by meticulous research that this inequality is a reality and part of a systematic problem that needs addressing and changing. Women’s stories have been neglected for too long. By talking to women writers, listening to them, advocating for them, Natalie has given us voice. Most crucially, she points to a way forward for real change. Every producer, executive, commissioner, and financier should be given a copy to read, then act on. Time is most definitely up. “ (Andrea Gibb, screenwriter and Co-Chair of the Film Committee at The Writer’s Guild of GB, UK)

“Natalie Wreyford’s work on women in the film industry is authoritative and ground-breaking. The Writers’ Guild of Great Britain has recently laid bare the shocking absence of opportunities for women screenwriters. This book strips away the myths and addresses the reality. It could not be more timely.” (Kate Kinninmont MBE, Chief Executive of Women in Film & Television, UK)

“This book makes a timely and important intervention in ongoing debates about women's participation in the UK screen industries, exploring exactly how and why female screenwriters are still underrepresented in British film production, and what can be done about it. Using statistics, interview data, and clear-eyed analysis to bust some persistent myths, it is absolutely essential reading for everyone who has a stake in making British cinema a place of greater fairness, diversity, and enrichment.” (Melanie Williams, University of East Anglia, UK)

“A must-read study of inequality in cultural work.  Based on unique access to the UK film industry Wreyford exposes the multi-layered systemic barriers to gender equality in screen writing. A nuanced analysis that provides inspiration and conceptual direction for future research, on film and gender and beyond.” (Doris Ruth Eikhof, Deputy Director, CAMEo Research Institute for Cultural and Media Economies, University of Leicester, UK)

“I've been tracking the numbers of female filmmakers for over a decade. The numbers are still abysmally low. Natalie's book looks at the intersection of employment practices and industry cultures that lie behind these numbers and shows precisely how women are pushed out of creative film roles. Because film is an international medium and over 70 cents of every dollar is made outside North America, Natalie's book will be an essential read on both sides of the Atlantic for anyone fighting gender inequality and wanting to see more stories by and about women on the big screen.” (Melissa Silverstein, Founder and Publisher of Women and Hollywood, USA)