This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

Sensemaking, Screenwriting, and Transgressive Women: Phoebe Waller-Bridge's Career Sensemaking in the Male-Dominated Screenwriting Industry




Klebous, Alison

Type of Degree

Master's Thesis


Communication and Journalism


Screenwriting is a creative industry characterized by a high level of male-dominance within the broader male-dominated Hollywood landscape. As a result, many women who pursue careers in screenwriting find themselves disadvantaged. However, British screenwriter Phoebe Waller-Bridge provides an interesting case study as a woman in screenwriting who has experienced notable success in a relatively short period of time. Waller-Bridge has become known for the massively successful television series Fleabag and Killing Eve that have experienced widespread popularity in both the United States and the United Kingdom. Her success in Hollywood has led to lots of discussion surrounding her gender as a screenwriter due to the male-dominated nature of the screenwriting industry. However, Waller-Bridge consistently minimizes gendered issues and the political nature of her shows. This paper presents an iterative thematic analysis of Waller-Bridge’s public career sensemaking across interviews in both trade and popular press in order to qualitatively analyze her sensemaking within a highly maledominated, creative industry. This paper identifies themes in Waller-Bridge's public career sensemaking in order to identify the gendered nature of the screenwriting industry that persists today. As a result of this analysis, this paper contributes significant new findings to current research on women working within male-dominated, creative industries.