Alphaville: Journal of Film and Screen Media. Issue 24: Fostering Diversity On and Off Screen

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    Alphaville Journal of Film and Screen Media Podcast. Episode 08, Issue 24, 'Fostering Diversity On and Off Screen'
    (Film and Screen Media, University College Cork, 2022) Dooley, Kath; McHugh, Margaret; Berry, Marsha
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    Imagining diversity: An Irish case study of graduates’ perceptions of inequality in media work
    (Film and Screen Media, University College Cork, 2022) Arnold, Sarah; O'Brien, Anne; Berry, Marsha; Dooley, Kath; McHugh, Margaret
    Recent international challenges to the hegemonic structures in the media industries—particularly regarding gender, sex and class—have resulted in a range of institutional-level responses. In Ireland, state bodies such as Screen Ireland and the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland have developed gender action plans. Funding incentives in screen production are now tied to increasing women’s participation. The national broadcaster, RTÉ and various independent companies have published diversity and inclusion strategies. The Irish media workforce today, it seems, should be open and inclusive to all. However, contemporary scholarship on media work suggests that structural barriers remain (O’Brien and Kerrigan; French). Media work is still a site of privilege, with working conditions and cultures reproducing class and gender hierarchies. (O’Brien et al., “Are”; Malik; Banks and Oakley). Our article proposes to add to this body of knowledge by prioritising the relatively neglected point of view of aspirant new entrants to industry. Generation Z graduate entrants articulate how graduates conceive of diversity and equality in the workplace, whether they believe they will experience structural or cultural exclusions, and how they interpret organisational efforts to achieve change.
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    “Where are we now?” Assessing the gender equality and diversity journey in Irish screen industries (2016–21)
    (Film and Screen Media, University College Cork, 2022) Liddy, Susan; Berry, Marsha; Dooley, Kath; McHugh, Margaret
    After a period of unprecedented change, this article provides a snapshot of the Irish screen production sector in 2021 from the perspective of female practitioners, defined here as those who work in production roles, above and below the line, in the screen industries. Between 2016 and 2021 there has been a shift from an industry that was gender blind and unquestioningly male dominated to one in which industry discourse is imbued with the importance of achieving gender equality, diversity and inclusion. A range of targeted initiatives have been implemented to achieve that goal. The key question in this article is whether and to what extent, in 2021, practitioners are now experiencing concrete change on the ground, in their day-to-day working lives. This was explored by means of a series of interviews and questionnaires in which three themes emerged: “continuity and change”, “resistance and lip service”, and “the road ahead”. Ultimately, practitioners do not identify any seismic shifts in the industry, but most acknowledge that there is greater awareness of gender and diversity, and some limited but welcome change has occurred. There is agreement, too, that change is not fully embedded but is fledging and still finding its way.
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    Fostering diversity on and off screen
    (Film and Screen Media, University College Cork, 2022) Berry, Marsha; Dooley, Kath; McHugh, Margaret; Berry, Marsha; Dooley, Kath; McHugh, Margaret
    In recent years, individuals and groups from inside and outside of academia have called for greater diversity on screen, resulting in campaigns such as #MeToo, #TimesUp, and #OscarsSoWhite. In particular, the gender imbalance that exists on screen and behind the camera has been a particular point of focus. Our aim for this special issue is to present research that suggests a way forward for practitioners, educators and members of the broader screen industries from all over the globe with regard to improving gender and diversity imbalances. We note important prior studies and projects exploring screen diversity in industry and educational contexts. We then explore ongoing issues and barriers for the fostering of diversity, such as practitioner perceptions of slow change, organisational initiatives, the impact of caring duties, and television cultures. The editorial ends by presenting an overview of strategies to effect change through screen education.
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    Recognising and addressing unconscious bias and structural inequalities: A case study within television idea development
    (Film and Screen Media, University College Cork, 2022) Brown, Lucy; Davies, Rosamund; Oyebanjo, Funke; Berry, Marsha; Dooley, Kath; McHugh, Margaret
    This article examines the idea development process within the UK television industry and raises the question of who has power and agency within it. Recently, there has been much discussion within the television industry about the commercial and social imperative for greater diversity, inclusion and risk taking in programme making, in order to both represent and appeal to contemporary audiences. However, our research suggests that there is at the same time a sense of disempowerment, a feeling that television culture itself is inhibiting this change and that individuals can do little to influence it. Building on existing research in the creative industries, this case study draws on observations, interviews and surveys carried out within the context of a talent development scheme and wider consultation with television development professionals. We will discuss the reasons for these contradictory currents of feeling, including the ways in which unconscious bias may operate to perpetuate inequalities and exclusions. Our article proposes that recognising and addressing unconscious bias within the idea development process is an important element in the wider process of tackling structural inequality in the television industry through collective action and institutional change.