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BBC America and Women’s Media Center want to increase onscreen representation of women

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Aug 29, 2018, 12:08 PM EDT (Updated)

The fight for representation of women in entertainment has been a tumultuous one, but now two organizations are teaming up to face it head-on. BBC America and Women’s Media Center announced what they’re calling a “strategic alliance” on Tuesday “with the goal of expanding both the diversity and representation of women in media.”

And they’ve already started work on these initiatives, including a study about the effect onscreen portrayals of women have on real-life girls and young women. That study will be published later this year. Women’s Media Center is calling these new projects “a way to spark change.” Started in 2005 by Jane Fonda, Robin Morgan, and Gloria Steinem, the Women’s Media Center has conducted numerous similar surveys over the years, including research into women in news media, and into the gender diversity of non-acting award nominations.

This new alliance is also part of BBC America’s “Galaxy of Women” campaign, which highlights powerful female characters across their shows, including the women of Killing Eve; the newest Doctor Who Doctor, played by Jodie Whittaker; and the dozen or so clones played by Tatiana Maslany on Orphan Black.

“The Women’s Media Center has an awesome mission — to ensure women’s voices are heard. They have been doing extraordinary work in furthering this goal for many years,” said BBC America President and GM Sarah Barnett. “We at BBC America are beyond privileged to work with them to advance the ways in which women are represented in the stories we see on television, and a crucial part of this is who gets to tell the stories. Representation matters: If you can’t see her, you can’t be her. We are so proud to be engaged in an alliance that sets out to expand what can be seen.”

Recent studies on the representation of women in media, both on- and off-screen, have been less than encouraging, largely serving to reinforce concerns over a lack of representation. This despite a recent wave of activism calling for an increase in the depictions of people of color and LGBTQ characters.

“These are times that call for sweeping and sustainable changes,” said Pat Mitchell, Women’s Media Center co-chair. “The Women’s Media Center’s work to shine a light on the status of women in Hollywood — and on all media platforms – is more important than ever … Ultimately, changes must come from those who hold the power, and we know that few, if any, power holders throughout history have given up power without a struggle. Which is why we are so grateful for the BBC America team and their strategic alliance with the Women’s Media Center to help elevate and amplify more women in media.”

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