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[UPDATED] Steven Moffat Says Women Usually Just Don’t Want to Write for Doctor Who

Says he expects more lady writers once the fans grow up. *Checks calendar.* Yup, I'm still a 28-year-old female Doctor Who fan.

Doctor Who Series 8 (ep 10)

At this point, Steven Moffat has become so used to fielding questions about the paucity of women in the production of Doctor Who that he’s starting to offer original speculation on why.

[Update below.]

Season 8 of Doctor Who hosted two female directors – Rachel Talalay (who directed the finale two parter, “Dark Water” and “Death in Heaven“) and Sheree Folkson (who worked on “In the Forest of the Night“) and no female writers. Catherine Tregenna has been confirmed as penning the script to one episode of Season 9, which will make her the first female writer since 2008, and Moffat has recently stated there is also a female director “on the books for next year.”

But the showrunner also talked a bit about his apparent difficulty in finding any women interested in contributing to a season of Doctor Who. He told Zap2It:

Female directors and writers have a tendency to turn us down. There are fewer female directors and female writers — it’s a statistical fact — it’s shameful but it’s true. Most of the people who are desperate to do ‘Doctor Who’ are men… [Tregenna] turned us down in the past, but I talked her into it with an idea she really liked… The reason we want women is because some of the best people for the job are women… There’s very much a culture of thinking about Doctor Who as a boys’ show, but I’m always going to conventions and looking at fans and thinking there’s practically more girls than boys.

*sigh* It’s a nice try, but let’s just get started here: I find it exceedingly weird to hear show runners/producers in high places express helplessness over the fact that there are few female directors and female writers with credits under their belts to equal their male counterparts. It’s those show runners and producers who are in the positions of power to change that gender gap.

And either the only folks interested in writing Doctor Who are men, or the fandom is wrongly perceived to be mostly male. You can’t have it both ways. People who are interested in contributing to Doctor Who are by definition fans. And if you’re going to say that as soon as you took over the show no woman wanted to write or direct for it, including Alice Troughton, Hettie MacDonald, or Helen Raynor, all women who wrote or directed episodes during Russell T. Davies’ run, then it raises the question of “why don’t they want to work for you,” not “why don’t they want to work for Doctor Who.”

Some day, a show runner or producer is going to come out and just say, “Look, the reason why we don’t have very many women behind the scenes is because we weren’t really committed to fighting institutionalized sexism. We didn’t think that it was important. We were wrong. We’re gonna do better.”

And then I’m going to give them an Internet handshake and say, “Good to know. We’ll be watching.” But Moffat’s not committing to change here. He’s still passing the buck. In this case, to whoever is running the show ten years from now: “I think in 10 years when Doctor Who is still triumphantly successful, a lot of those [women] will grow up to be writers and directors who are desperate to do Doctor Who.”

I’ll just leave you with the implication that there are no adult female fans of Doctor Who, a fifty year old, internationally successful television show.

[Editor’s Note (added January 2, 2015): The BBC has contacted us to ask that we correct a few points. While we linked to a previous post of ours in the intro featuring Season 8 director Rachel Talalay, we failed to mention her by name as having a somewhat coveted place in Season 8. Talalay had previously gone on record to say she had campaigned for the job since the reboot in 2005. We were previously unaware there was a second female director in Season 8, Sheree Folkson. We’ve edited the second paragraph to reflect this.

The BBC rep also told us, “Steven [Moffat] isn’t solely responsible for hiring writers. Since 2005 there have always been women in key positions on the show as executives, producers or script executives.”

In addition, the BBC told us “Steven has mentioned series 9 will have women directing and writing.” Tregenna, mentioned in this article, is one of the writers but we’ve asked the BBC for the specific names of others working on Season 9. Stay tuned!]

(via Legion of Leia)

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Susana Polo thought she'd get her Creative Writing degree from Oberlin, work a crap job, and fake it until she made it into comics. Instead she stumbled into a great job: founding and running this very website (she's Editor at Large now, very fancy). She's spoken at events like Geek Girl Con, New York Comic Con, and Comic Book City Con, wants to get a Batwoman tattoo and write a graphic novel, and one of her canine teeth is in backwards.