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Research project

Cobb AHRC Calling the Shots: Women and contemporary film culture in the UK, 2000-2015

  • Research groups:
  • Lead researcher:
  • Research funder:
    Arts & Humanities Research Council
  • Status:
    Not active

Project overview

We conducted research into the numbers of women working in the British film industry and the collection of their career stories injected quantitative and qualitative evidence into debates about equality and diversity in the screen industries. We engaged the film industry through related public institutions and organisations, working professionals, filmmaking educators and film production students. Our research increased awareness of the reality of gender inequality and its intersection with ethnicity within the industry, facilitated discussion of these issues, and advocated for and contributed to policy change.

Key outcomes included the use of the project data by the British Film Institute (BFI) as evidence and support for new equality and diversity policies. The research helped many individual filmmakers to make the case for tackling gender inequality in their own roles and to influence others in this highly collaborative industry. Media attention to the project increased the public visibility of these issues, tying them to wider debates about equality while challenging the cinema and film-loving public to recognise the barriers facing women filmmakers and to think of ways they might better support them


Lead researcher

Professor Shelley Cobb

Head of Department

Research interests

  • My interests include women filmmakers, women's films/chick flicks, gender and popular culture (esp Hollywood), celebrity studies, postfeminism and feminism in the media, contemporary Hollywood cinema, film and television adaptation, the figure of the woman author, and reception discourses. I have recently published on black women filmmakers who make romantic comedies, the politics of the chick flick and Trainwreck, and race in the sitcom Friends.
  • I welcome PhD applications on topics related to any of the above areas.
  • I have supervised to completion theses on British women directors and cinematic space; women documentarians working across film and television; literary celebrity in the 19th century; contemporary gothic fiction for adolescents, and authorship and adaptation of contemporary children's literature and film. My current PhD students are working on Black women and contemporary Hollywood cinema; Chinese chick flicks; East Asian celebrity and fandom; queer Black cinema; the war on terror and Hollywood cinema; gender and class in amateur filmmaking in the UK 1930-1950.

Collaborating research institutes, centres and groups

Research outputs

Shelley Cobb,
& Linda Ruth Williams
, 2020 , Women's History Review , 29 (5) , 890--902
Type: article
Shelley Cobb
, 2020 , Journal of British Cinema and Television , 17 (1) , 112--135
Type: article
Shelley Cobb,
& Tanya Horeck
, 2018 , Feminist Media Studies , 18 (3) , 489--491
Type: letterEditorial
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