The Real Cost of Childcare: Motherhood and Flexible Creative Labour in the UK Film Industry - Review Essay


There is one clear factor that leads to women's inequality in the labour market: "becoming mothers" (The Commission for Equalities and Human Rights, 2007). It is difficult to talk about women and work without talking about childcare. The same would not be true about a discussion of men and work and this is still one of the most obvious difficulties to be managed by working women, even those who choose not to have children. It is the potential of all women to have children and the associated disruption to their career that can lead to women being perceived as less worthy of investment – of time, of career advice, of promotion and even of pay (Fitt and Newton, 1981, Groysberg, 2008, McGuire, 2002, Wajcman, 1998). In the UK film industry, only 14% of women have children compared to 40% of men (Skillset and UK Film Council, 2008). Work in the UK film industry shares many traits of other creative professions such as flexible working hours, project-based employment, uncertainty, precariousness and irregular and often unreliable payment. Skillset's report on the status of women in the creative industries in the UK found that representation is highest in sectors comprising larger employers in which more stable, permanent employment models are common, such as terrestrial television (48%), broadcast radio (47%), cinema exhibition (43%), and book publishing (61%) (Skillset, 2010). This paper considers the hidden inequalities in the apparent freedom of a creative professions such as the UK film industry, paying particular attention to the role of the screenwriter in order to illustrate how continued gendered assumptions about a women's role as a mother and the primary carer for children can impact on their career opportunities in a creative industry.

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Wreyford, N., (2013) “The Real Cost of Childcare: Motherhood and Flexible Creative Labour in the UK Film Industry - Review Essay”, Studies in the Maternal 5(2), 1-22. doi:


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Natalie Wreyford



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