Following a 2015–16 television season in which women comprised less than a quarter of directors on network and cable series, NBC has announced a new annual initiative to usher more female directors into their ranks by 2018.
NBC's "Female Forward" initiative, announced on Thursday during the network's Television Critics Association summer press tour, will provide 10 female filmmakers with the chance to shadow the production of up to three episodes of an NBC series. Chosen filmmakers will then commit to directing at least one episode of one of the series she shadows. The initiative will commence during the 2018–19 television season on 10 of the network's shows, with the goal of expanding the number of female directors and series involved in future years.
"It’s been a collective and urgent goal of ours to identify more female directors. We strongly believe women can and should be at the forefront of telling compelling stories, and I hope the guaranteed directing component will have real impact on our shows as well as the industry," Salk said in a statement on Thursday.
In the 2015–16 television season, women comprised just 17 percent of directors on all network and cable television shows—a 1 percent increase from the previous year, according to a study by the Directors Guild of America. This year, just one of the 41 new pilots premiering on network and cable television (that's 2.4 percent) was directed by a woman. In 2015, four were directed by women, and, in 2016, two were female-helmed.