Funny Women is launching a new industry award to recognise the female writers of unscripted comedy, for example those who supply gags to panel shows.
The organisation, which is teaming up with the Comedy 50:50 initiative, explains: "The Funny Women Best Comedy Writer Award with Comedy 50:50 has been created to recognise the women amongst our oft unsung heroes of comedy - the gag, sketch and additional material writers of TV, Radio and digital entertainment.
"Through our involvement with ITV's Comedy 50:50 initiative, it became increasingly clear to us that whilst women comedians were beginning to get a much better deal on screen and on the airwaves, female comedy writers for unscripted comedies were still vastly outnumbered by their male counterparts.
"Whilst acknowledging comedy writing is an incredibly hard profession for almost anyone to break into, with this award we want to celebrate the talent and tenacity of the women writers of Britain and Ireland, who have overcome the clearly disproportionate barriers to entry to succeed in this highly competitive field."
The Funny Women Best Comedy Writer Award with Comedy 50:50 will be accepting nominations from producers, head writers and executives of all of TV and radio's unscripted comedy shows (such as Newsjack, Have I Got News For You, The Mash Report) through the months of July and August, and the winner will be revealed at The Funny Women Awards Grand Final in September.
She says: "Comedy writing is a crucial, and often-undervalued part of all your favourite comedy shows. From radio specials, to panel shows, to topical quizzes, it's easy to forget that much of the material has been crafted and scripted by talented writers behind the scenes, all working to make it seem as 'unscripted' as possible. And the more diverse that team, the better.
"With this award, we're celebrating and showcasing the women who write for these shows. Having worked as a writer and a comic who works with writers, I know how important it is to have women in the writers room, not because they add some kind of uniquely feminine viewpoint or brand of 'female comedy', but because we exist, our voices matter, and by excluding or under-representing women, the comedy loses out.
"I've worked with some phenomenal female writers across TV and radio and I hope that this award helps to showcase the wealth of talent out there and to highlight how easy it is to find talented, experienced female writers to be part of any writing team."
Saskia Schuster, the founder of Comedy 50:50, says: "We're delighted to join with Funny Women to celebrate brilliant women in comedy. There are lots of them out there and we hope that by crediting them for their talent, it will remind the industry to look at improving the diversity of their writing rooms. Different voices lead to different jokes and more creative options, which in our view leads to better shows. Let's celebrate talent."
Lynne Parker, the founder of Funny Women, says: "Today's funny women have a strong and independent voice which needs better and equal representation at the writers' table. There's no excuse for a lack of diversity and we're calling on broadcasters to promote and encourage new female talent."
Producers have until Friday 21st August to put forward nominations via funnywomenawards.com