British Columbia

Female directors still under-represented in film industry

It's a question Carol Whiteman has been asking for many years. She teaches a film class called Women In the Director’s Chair that aims to empower female directors working on feature films and television series.

Since 1929, only one woman has won the Academy Award for best director

Kathryn Bigelow accepts the Oscar for best achievement in directing for The Hurt Locker from presenter Barbara Streisand at the 82nd Academy Awards on March 7, 2010. (Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press)

With the Whistler Film Festival opening today, a film educator is raising concerns about gender disparity in the film industry.

Carol Whiteman is the producer of Women In the Director's Chair, a mentorship program that teaches female directors how to better develop their feature film and television series projects.

"Because that's where the biggest gap is. It's in those higher-budget areas where women directors are lacking most," Whiteman told The Early Edition's Rick Cluff.

So why is there such a gap?

"It's probably generational. There's a long-standing bias against women in our film industry, some would say it's unconscious at this point … times haven't really changed."

In fact, since the first Academy Awards in 1929, only one woman has ever won for best director: Kathryn Bigelow for The Hurt Locker in 2010.

Whiteman says that having women directors is important because women account for 51 per cent of the population and have different experiences than men. She says it's important to reflect those experiences in film.

Whiteman's Women In the Director's Chair is launching a new four-month intensive program for women directors in conjunction with the Whistler Film Festival.

The program is open to established female directors who are working on television series, feature films and web series.

To hear the full story, click the audio labelled: Why are there still so few female directors?


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.