ITV head of comedy Saskia Schuster is putting a stop to all-male comedy writing teams at the British broadcast channel, making it a mandatory requirement for all of the network’s commissioned shows to hire female writers.
Schuster announced the decision at Channel 4’s Diverse Festival in Bradford, England, on Monday.
“I won’t commission anything with an all-male writing team,” she said at the festival, according to the BBC, adding that she had consulted writers, producers, agents and performers before making the change.
Reps for ITV did not immediately respond to TheWrap’s request for comment.
ITV’s contracts now require shows that are commissioned or recommissioned to “aim towards 50:50 gender representation,” Schuster said. As a result of the change, more female writers have been hired to join shows like ITV2’s “Celebability,” the BBC reported.
Schuster’s decision to make the change came from her realization that “an awful lot of my comedy entertainment shows are made up of all-male writing teams,” she said, adding that she found there to be “a significant lack of shows written by women or with women on the writing teams.”
The BBC also reported that Schuster said that while she was reviewing the gender balance of sitcom script submissions last year, she realized that for every five scripts sent in by male writers, there was only one from a female writer.
In order to change that, she started an initiative called Comedy 50:50, which will “address gender imbalance in comedy. Our aim is to change a culture. This is not about hitting quotas or targets as some form of box ticking exercise, it is about implementing practical measures as a way to achieve equal representation,” according to the Comedy 50:50 website.
Comedy 50:50 launched a database listing female writers in February. It currently lists 460 female writers, according to the BBC.
It’s arrived! Our database of female writers is now up and running.
Producers, to access the database you need to create a login. Please go to https://t.co/O14omrG2GC
Female writers with min 1 professional credit who’d like to be on the database email
— comedy50:50 (@50Comedy50) February 27, 2019