Gendered TV production. Or, why and how women work in media industries.

Research output: Contribution to conferenceConference contributionAcademic


Gender and TV industries has been a hot topic of debate over the last few years. Fired up by #MeToo movement, actresses revealed the misogynist character of the film and TV industries. Some directors and actors were ‘cancelled’, while others faced being arrested based on very serious allegations. Audiences responded with disbelieve and shock. Yet, the existence of rape-culture in these industries is not surprising considering the long history of cases starting with Fatty Arbuckle’s in 1921. As the Western TV industries’ structures are built on those of Hollywood, similarities are visible, illustrated by the recent case of the Dutch version of The Voice in the Netherlands. Structural sexual abuse of young participants was exposed and the show was taken off air. More mysterious than the fact rape-culture is present in TV and film industries, are the reasons of why people, and especially women, keep working in an industry that actively discriminates them and in times endangers their lives. It is this question that this study focuses on. Why do women work in TV industries, and how do they navigate an environment that is hostile towards them?
This study aims to add an insider perspective to the current status quo on the relation between production and gender. The study at hand starts with a qualitative exploration of creativity and TV production. How is creating popular culture understood by the ones who create it? What does each team member contribute? What kind of boundaries are experienced? A second part of the study focused on gender. How is a creator’s gender important in the production processes? To answer these questions, 15 members of one of the ‘creative units’ at Talpa Network (January 2020 and spring of 2023) were interviewed. The interviews were open and qualitative of character, using a topic list but no preformulated questions. Using an active interview approach, each interview was co-created by interviewee and interviewer (Holstein & Gubrium, 1999). All interviews were transcribed ad verbum after which they were subjected to a Foucauldian discourse analysis.
Results indicate a classic alignment between the concepts of ‘creativity’ and ‘making things’ - originally framed as ‘masculine’ and ‘feminine’. There is distinct hierarchy between the ideators, who identified as male, and the more practical production team members, mostly identifying as female. The mystique around creativity of ideators is highly valued and the team is organized around those 4 team members who could be said to be the source of all creativity. Additionally, discourses on inspiration, and how even the smallest inspirational particles can be found everywhere, are geared to maintain the positions of ideators. Interestingly, it is not the, male, ideators who take up subject positions: it were other, female, team members that articulate creativity and set boundaries for this articulation of creativity to flourish. In our conclusion we will discuss these findings in the light of production culture and its gendered power configurations.

Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2023
EventInhabiting the planet: : Challenges for media, communication and beyond - Lyon, France
Duration: 7 Jul 202313 Jul 2023
Conference number: 2023


ConferenceInhabiting the planet
Abbreviated titleIAMCR
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