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WFTV: sexism in TV has not gone away

Women in Film and Television has called for more research into sexual discrimination and harassment in TV after a snapshot survey found that nearly 90% of women believe the issue remains a problem.

Of the 372 members who responded, 85.9% agreed that sex discrimination is still an issue for those working in the film and TV industry today.

When asked whether they had experienced sex discrimination at work in the past five years, the result was evenly split: 49.8% answered yes and 50.2% said no.

Almost one in four – 22.6% – of the respondents said they had experienced sexual harassment at work in the past five years.

Of those who said they had experienced sex discrimination or harassment, 48% said they had not made a complaint about the incident, while 16% had complained to a manager, and 5% had complained to a union.

The survey was authored by Tamsyn Dent, a PhD researcher studying the widening gender gap in the UK creative media industries for Bournemouth University and Skillset. She found that 62.1% of the respondents were aware of their rights regarding sex discrimination in the workplace.

The results were shared at a Bafta TV debate this week. ‘Sexism in TV – How Far Have We Come?’ featured WFTV chief executive Kate Kinninmont, Channel 4 head of news and current affairs Dorothy Byrne, writer and ex-TV producer David Cox, film-maker Zara Hayes and broadcaster John Sergeant.

Kinninmont said at the event: “There are no statistics about sex discrimination and harassment. At the end of the survey, 181 people made some comments, with some noting that they had observed men being harassed as well. What I would like to see is proper industry research, where we are drilling down to see what really is the case – one person’s sexual harassment might not be another person’s sexual harassment.”

Two-thirds of those surveyed were freelancers and the remainder held staff jobs. Half the respondents were aged 35-49, while 20% were in the 25-34 bracket and 26% fell in the 50-64 age group.

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