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Gender Matters update 2020/21

Screen Australia has reached the midpoint of its three-year Gender Matters KPI and remains on track to meet the goal, with 55% of key creative roles across approved development and production funding held by women in 2020/21.

The KPI is that at least 50% of the key creative roles (writers, producers and directors) across all projects that receive Screen Australia development and production funding will be women, across a three-year-average (2019/20 to 2021/22).

This is the second year of the current KPI reporting period and combined with the 57% result of 2019/20, the current average sits at 56%.

However, outside of the KPI, industry-wide data collated by Screen Australia shows women are still underrepresented in key roles, with updated data showing gains in some roles, particularly in TV drama, but large inequality in other areas (as outlined in the data below).

Screen Australia’s Head of Development Nerida Moore said, “As we reach the mid-point of our second Gender Matters KPI, it is encouraging that we remain on track to meet our target.

“While the overall representation is slightly down on the 2019/20 results, we are heartened to see women have reached or exceeded parity in almost every format across successful Screen Australia applications. The exception is online development which saw higher female representation in 2019/20. We saw increases in women in key creative roles in every format for successful production applications, including documentary production which reached 50% this year after falling just below parity in 2019/20. However, when you drill down in to the roles of producer, writer and director across the formats there are still key areas that need more focus on to bring about equality,” Moore continued.

“In a year still heavily impacted by COVID-19, it was good to see production commence on Gender Matters supported feature How To Please A Woman, the debut film from writer/director Renée Webster, as well as Jub Clerc’s debut feature Sweet As and Krew Boylan’s Seriously Red, which is executive produced by Rose Byrne. We also saw numerous female-led projects greenlit, including drama series Bad Behaviour for Stan and a second season of critically acclaimed children’s series First Day. Leah Purcell’s The Drover’s Wife The Legend of Molly Johnson made its world premiere at South by SouthWest Festival in March and Jane Campion’s The Power of the Dog screened at numerous international festivals including Venice, Toronto and New York before releasing in cinemas and on Netflix later this year, showing stories led by female filmmakers continue to travel and resonate around the world.

“When we examine the industry wide data, we are seeing signs of progress between 2011/12 – 2014/15 and 2015/16 – 2019/20 data ranges, with small increases in every key creative role in feature drama and TV drama but overall, women are continuing to be under-represented in most key creative roles. This does remind us that change is not something that happens overnight, and Screen Australia will continue to advocate and work for a more equitable industry,” Moore finished.

Below are some key takeaways from feature film, TV/VOD, online and documentary in 2020/21. The full data is available here


The data set that informs the KPI includes Screen Australia-funded applications in both production and development. This is the second year detailed data on development applications has been available.


  • There were increases across successful production applications in all key creative roles: feature film, TV/VOD, online and documentary.
  • The most marked increase was in online drama production, from 49% in 2019/20 to 56% in 2020/21.
  • Women were 70% of producers in successful feature drama production applications, an 11% increase from 2019/20. There was a decrease in directors from 50% in 2019/20 to 45% in 2020/21 and writers from 45% in 2019/20 to 33% in 2020/21.
  • Some gains were seen in the proportion of female directors and writers for TV/VOD in 2020/21 to 57% and 56% respectively. This number has grown year-on-year for the past three years.
  • Although development numbers were down for online development, results were much stronger in production, with increases across every key creative role, particularly for producers, which jumped 16% in 2020/21 to 67%.
  • In successful documentary production applications, there was a slight (1%) increase in 2020/21 for producers to 56% and a pleasing jump for directors, from 37% in 2019/20 to 46% in 2020/21. Writers remained at 43% in 2020/21.
  • Producers were above parity in every format for successful production applications in 2020/21, with feature drama at 70%, TV/VOD drama at 59%, online drama at 67%, and documentary at 56%.


  • For successful Screen Australia development applications, feature drama (53%) and TV/VOD (61%) returned results for all key creative roles above parity in 2020/21, although slightly down from the 2019/20 result of 58% for feature drama and 62% for TV/VOD. Documentary development was a stand-out at 62% of all key creative roles being held by women, which marked a 3% increase from 2019/20 results.
  • Online drama development experienced a drop to 44% in all key creative roles in 2020/21 from a high in 2019/20 of 72%. Across all approved key creative roles in online drama development, 8% were identified as ‘X’ or ‘Prefer Not To Say’. Participation of women in key creative roles for successful online drama development applications was down on the previous year, with the largest drop for directors from 76% in 2019/20 to 38% in 2020/21. Producers remained above parity at 57%.
  • For key creative roles in feature drama development, producers (55%) and writers (54%) remained above parity and relatively stable, but directors dropped from a high of 63% in 2019/20 to 47% in 2020/21.
  • In TV/VOD drama development, all key creative roles were similar to last year, sitting at 61% for 2020/21. Directors and producers fell, but writers increased from 59% in 2019/20 to 65% in 2020/21.


Screen Australia also tracks data that falls outside of the KPI. This includes protagonist data across successful Screen Australia applications for feature, online and television drama development and production, in order to monitor female representation on screen.

The agency also tracks industry-wide data, which includes titles that do not receive Screen Australia funding, as well as titles that do. The industry-wide data can indicate if and where progress is being made across the screen sector in key creative roles. This data takes more time to compile, and 2019/20 results are now available.


  • Protagonist data has been released since 2016/17 across production applications, which gives a wider view of change of on-screen representation in Screen Australia-funded projects. Protagonist data does not count towards the current KPI. Feature film shows stand-out progress, with year-on-year growth from 2016/17, and around 60% protagonists in the last two years were female. TV/VOD experienced similar year-on-year growth from 2016/17 to 2019/20, but had a 1% dip in the past financial year. TV/VOD is still well represented with 61% of protagonists female. Online has experienced fluctuations, but has been above parity since 2018/19, and 51% of protagonists were female in 2020/21.
  • Protagonist data in drama development has been tracked since 2019/20. This two-year period has shown increases in the representation of female protagonists for both successful feature drama development applications, which rose to 65% in 2020/21 from 57% in 2019/20, and TV/VOD, which increased 1% to hit 66% in 2020/21. Online experienced a drop of 21% from 2019/20, sitting just shy of parity at 49% in 2020/21.


Industry-wide data is calculated from every title in Screen Australia’s database, not just agency-funded titles.

  • The oft-cited percentage from 2011/12-2014/15 reporting period was in feature film, when there were 16% female directors, 23% female writers and 35% female producers. These data points are showing welcome, though slow, progress. During the period of 2015/16-2019/20, those numbers have risen to 23% female directors, 25% writers and 38% producers, and this is only in key creative roles: a reminder that there is still work to be done across the entire industry.
  • TV experienced increased female participation across all key creative roles. Female producers now make up 55%, while writers are getting closer to parity at 45% in the latest data. There was an 11% increase in female TV directors from 2011/12-2014/15 to 2015/16-2019/20, but the number is only now at 34%.
  • Online drama industry-wide data somewhat resembles TV, however it’s not a side-by-side comparison. For online, the average is reported from 2011/12-2019/20, to reflect the emerging nature of the format and the low numbers of titles in earlier years. This data includes anything with an online-first release (including Netflix, YouTube etc). Producers are a stand-out with women making up 62% of this category in 2011/12-2019/20.
  • Industry-wide data for documentary shows producing roles are almost at parity in 2015/16-2019/20, but directors and writers sit below, with little sign of progress towards equity.

“Gender Matters has always been about making a more equitable industry, with women represented both behind the camera and in Australian screen stories. While we are encouraged by the data as we embark on our final year in the KPI reporting period, we know there is still change that needs to occur to ensure women are well represented throughout the sector. We will continue to ensure inclusive representation is at the heart of all of our decisions at Screen Australia and look forward to an equitable industry for all,” said Moore.


Data related to Screen Australia funding applications (including the Screen Australia KPI)
Data is based on applications: applicants nominate the gender of writer, producer, director and other roles, selecting either female, male, X (Indeterminate/Intersex/Unspecified), or prefer not to disclose. Across all applications from 2019/20 to 2020/21, less than 1% of key roles were marked prefer not to disclose.
All documentary titles, including titles funded by the Online and First Nations departments, are categorised as Documentary. Producer Equity Program (PEP) documentary projects are excluded as they do not undergo creative assessment.
Drama applications are generally sorted by funding program. In 20/21, the ‘TV drama’ category was re-titled to ‘TV/VOD’, following Screen Australia’s production funding program. The 19/20 title With or Without You was funded via Feature Production, but is categorised here as Feature Development, as the funding went to Development-like activities.
Story Development titles are categorised by their intended first release platform.
Decisions to approve or decline funding are counted. Note some titles have multiple funding decisions in a single year. Variations to funding for the same activity, such as production funding variations, are not counted.
Some applications, including Drama Story Development, may be assessed at multiple stages – decisions to approve or decline funding are counted. LOI approvals are only counted if a funding decision is not made in the same financial year.
Revocations of funding will be updated retrospectively for the current KPI period 19/20 – 21/22. 
Includes Screen Australia initiatives administered by third parties where data is available. Data was not available for unsuccessful applications for one initiative in 19/20.
Some titles, such as anthologies, involve larger numbers of creative roles. The 19/20 dataset involves two anthologies approved for feature production funding: Cook 2020: Our Right of Reply/ Nga Pouwhenua and Here Out West. Anthologies did not have significant influence on the 20/21 data.
Application dataset is more expansive than the 2015 report Gender Matters: Women in the Australian Screen Industry, and is not directly comparable.
Specific notes on writer, producer and director data
Writer, producer and director roles are counted. Credits such as ‘creative producer’ are evaluated.
Applications data measures each writer, producer or director role: individuals that serve in multiple roles are counted for each role.
Writer, producer and director roles are based on the most recent information processed in Screen Australia’s applications database.
Specific notes on Protagonist data
Protagonists are measured for drama only (not documentary). Please note that Protagonist data is not included in Screen Australia’s 19/20 to 21/22 KPI.
Data is based on information available at time of application. Applicants were provided with a definition of Protagonist. Protagonists were then verified by application assessors.
Titles such as anthologies and ensemble dramas with large numbers of protagonists are included. Non-recurring characters in sketch comedies are excluded.

Industry-wide data
Data shows the percentage of individuals with credits: individuals are counted once.
Gender data is based on information provided to Screen Australia, and some publically-sourced information.
Title data is based on Screen Australia production statistics. Data is subject to revision. See here for more.
Titles that premiere in Australia online are classified as Online drama. Titles that have a simultaneous TV broadcast and online release are categorised as TV Drama. Online data for 11/12 – 14/15 is not provided due to the low number of titles created at that time that met tracking criteria.