The Academic and the Advocate: A foot in both camps


  • Susan Liddy University of Limerick


Irish film industry, women filmmakers, ageing, advocacy


A personal reflection on the challenges and rewards of working as an advocate and an academic, Dr Susan Liddy looks back over her career to date and how she has endeavoured to advance the position of women, including older women, in the Irish screen industry. She discusses the resistance to change she met in the early days of her research and the failure of agencies to take an active approach to advancing women’s careers. She outlines the impact her findings have had in this area through media engagement and her realisation that she needed to publish in public-facing outlets and to speak out at public events alongside maintaining a traditional academic profile (with articles in referred journals, as author of industry reports and editor of international collections). She notes the importance of international movements to advocate for gender balance and EDI, and the impact of the #WakingTheFeminists movement locally. Finally, she acknowledges the influence she has been able to wield through her increasing engagement with WFT (Women in Film and Television Ireland) and the importance of knowledge-sharing as a public intellectual and advocate.


Barry, Aoife (2015). Fury, apologies, and calls for respect as feminists shake the Irish theatre world, The Journal, 12 November. Available at:

BAI Gender Action Plan: Review of Activities 2018-2022. Available at:

Brook, Orian, O’Brien, Dave and Taylor, Mark (2020). Culture is bad for you. Manchester: Manchester University Press.

British Film Institute (2013). Succes de Plume? Female Screenwriters and Directors of UK Film 2010-2012. Available at:

Broom, Dorothy. (2020). Researcher Activism: a voice of experience. Integration and Implementation Insights, 7 July. Available at:

Chemaly, Soraya (2018). Rage Becomes Her: the power of women’s anger. New York: Atria Books.

Dolan, Josephine (2017). Contemporary Cinema and ‘Old Age’: Gender and the Silvering of Stardom. London: Palgrave Macmillan.

Eschle, Catherine and Maiguashca, Bice (2006). Bridging the Academic/Activist Divide: Feminist Activism and the Teaching of Global Politics. Millennium- Journal of International Studies, 35(1)19-139.

Holgersson, Charlotte, Höök, Pia & Wahl, Anna (2014). Women as power resources: Putting theory into practice. In: Bilimoria, Diana & Lord, Linley (eds.) Women in STEM Careers. International perspectives on increasing workforce participation, advancement and leadership, Cheltenham: Edward Elgar Publishing.

Kerrigan, Páraic, Liddy, Susan and O’Brien, Anne (2021). Auditing gender and diversity change in Irish Media Sectors. Available at:

Lauzen, Martha (2023). “The Celluloid Ceiling: Employment of behind-the-scenes women on top grossing U.S. films in 2022. 25th Anniversary, San Diego State University. Available at:

Liddy, Susan.(2015a). Missing in Action: Where are all the Irish Women Screenwriters? Film Ireland, 20 April. Available at:

Liddy, S. and O’Connell, D. (2015). In: Nelmes, Jill and Selbo Jule (eds.) 2015.Women Screenwriters: An International Guide. London: Palgrave Macmillan.

Liddy, Susan (2015b). Women and the Irish Film Industry, The Irish Times, 11 November. Available at:

Liddy, Susan (2016). “Open to all and everybody”? The Irish Film Board: accounting for the scarcity of women screenwriters. Feminist Media Studies, 16 (5), 901-917, DOI: 10.1080/14680777.2015.1137961.

Liddy, Susan (2020a). Where are the women? Exploring perceptions of a gender order in the Irish film industry. In: Liddy, Susan (ed.) 2020. Women in the Irish Film industry: Stories and storytellers, Cork: Cork University Press.

Liddy, Susan (2020b). The Road to 5050: Gender Equality and the Irish Film Industry. In: Liddy, Susan (ed.) 2020. Women in the International Film Industry: Policy, progress and power, London: Palgrave Macmillan.

Liddy, Susan, Kerrigan, Páraic, and O’Brien, Anne (2022). Exploring the dynamics of EDI leadership in the Irish Screen Industries: policy, practice and perspective. International Journal of Cultural Policy, 29 (6), 752-766, DOI: 10.1080/10286632.2022.2100365.

Liddy, Susan (2021). Putting a Brighter Spotlight on Women. RTE: Brainstorm, 10 February. Available at:

Liddy, Susan (2021). Why we need to see more older women on screen. RTE: Brainstorm, 7 December. Available at:

Liddy, Susan (2020). Does the Film Industry have a Problem with Women? Irish Times, 17 July Available at:

Liddy, Susan (2022). ‘“Where Are We Now?” Assessing the Gender Equality and Diversity Journey in Irish Screen Industries (2016–21). Alphaville: Journal of Film and Screen Studies, 24, 12-31

Liddy, Susan (ed.) (2023). Women, Ageing and the Screen Industries: Falling off a cliff? London: Palgrave Macmillan.

Nwonka, Clive James (2021). White women, white men, and intra-racial diversity: A data-led analysis of gender representation in the UK film industry. Cultural Sociology 15(3), 430-454.

O’Brien, Anne (2015). Producing television and reproducing gender." Television & New Media 16(3), 259-274.

O’Toole, Emer (2017). Waking the Feminists: Re-imagining the Space of the National Theatre in the Era of the Celtic Phoenix. Lit: Literature Interpretation Theory, 28 (2),1-19. Available at:

Ryder, Marcus and Henry, Lenny (eds.) (2021). Black British Lives Matter; A clarion call for Equality. London: Faber and Faber.

Sinclair, Alice, Pollard, Emma and Wolfe, Helen (2006). Scoping Study into the Lack of Women Screenwriters in the UK: a report presented to the UK Film council. Available at:

Smith, Stacy L. (2010). Gender oppression in cinematic content? A look at females on screen & behind-the-camera in top-grossing 2007 films. Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism, University of Southern California: 1-28.

Wahl, Anna (2014). Male managers challenging and reinforcing the male norm in management. NORA, Nordic Journal of Feminist and Gender Research, Vol. 22(2), 131-146.




How to Cite

Liddy, S. (2023). The Academic and the Advocate: A foot in both camps. Irish Journal of Arts Management and Cultural Policy, 10(1), 11–24. Retrieved from