Diversity in Scottish Screen Industries examined

A groundbreaking research project is aiming to uncover reasons behind a “crisis” in representation in the Scottish screen sector.

The study, believed to be the first of its kind in Scotland, will see the University of the West of Scotland (UWS) and University of Glasgow team up with the BBC.

Academics are aiming to identify barriers to entry in the screen industry, as well as shortcomings in the existing approaches to attracting and retaining a more diverse workforce in Scotland. Research will be undertaken with Scottish school children and their parents, exploring attitudes and perceptions to working in the screen industries.

Ultimately, the three and half year collaboration, will also propose solutions on how to address the problem.

Khadija Mohammed, Senior Lecturer at UWS, said: “This project gives us the opportunity to centre voices that are often excluded from research, and to listen to how young people from minority ethnic backgrounds perceive the screen sector.

“The lack of representation in the industry both on and off screen is a serious issue. Young people can’t be what they can’t see, and it’s really important to remember that.

“If young people don’t see members of their community in these roles, they are less likely to aspire to work in that particular field.”

As part of the project, UWS, in partnership with the University of Glasgow, the Scottish Graduate School for the Arts and Humanities, the Scottish Funding Council and BBC Scotland, is offering a 3.5-year full-time funded PhD.

The successful applicant will be based at the University of the West of Scotland’s highly regarded Creative Media Academy, on its Paisley campus.

The doctoral student will also have the opportunity to be based at the BBC Scotland Pacific Quay headquarters in Glasgow for six months.

Professor Nick Higgins, Director of the UWS Creative Media Academy and lead supervisor, added: “This is a very exciting opportunity to work on an incredibly important project.

“The lack of diversity in the Scottish screen industry means that some stories either cannot be told, or are not being told.

“The successful applicant will have the opportunity to work on a study that we hope will play a significant role in changing this.”

Dr Inge Sorensen, Lecturer in Media Policy, at the University of Glasgow, said: “The screen industries are seen as drivers of cultural and commercial growth in Scotland. It is therefore paramount that everyone should have equal access to careers and opportunities in this sector.

“In order to reflect and represent Scotland as a contemporary, diverse and multicultural society, every part of our society need to be represented in the screen industry.”

Margaret Mary Murray, Head of Gaelic Services and Inclusion at BBC Scotland, said: “We’ve recently been working hard to increase the diversity of people our audiences see and hear on the BBC’s services in Scotland, so we’re delighted to provide practical support for a project that should help improve that even more.

“Having someone based in our offices and talking to our staff for six months should help provide some tangible insights into how the broadcast industry operates – and importantly, how it needs to adapt to be reflective of and relevant to our audiences.”

To apply, visit: https://www.findaphd.com/phds/project/understanding-diversity-in-the-scottish-screen-sector-the-role-of-perception-and-education-in-unblocking-talent-pipelines-phdbci2021001/?p132125

First published: 19 May 2021

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