Powering Hollywood’s perpetual-motion machine is a big sludgy river of spec scripts, of which only a tiny fraction will ever get sold, let alone made—and in recent years, the figure of spec scripts sold by women stands at under 10 percent. The imbalance in behind-the-scenes demographics is a direct cause of the tired, blandly misogynist shit that gets sold to moviegoers, 50 percent of which are women: for example, the fact that a third of teenage girls shown on screen are partially nude, and the fact that only 11 percent of protagonists are female.

Diversity on the writing end results in diversity on screen, and female screenwriters make a meaningful difference: for example, there’s an 8.7 percent increase in female characters on screen when there’s a female screenwriter involved, and I would conjecture that this figure would go up with the female screenwriter’s age. And that’s where Meryl comes in—she’s funded a writer’s workshop for screenwriters over 40 in partnership with New York Women in Film and Television, which will pair eight women with successful, experienced counterparts who can advise them on bringing their scripts to production. Via Variety, the program was announced Sunday night at the Tribeca Film Festival. From NYWIFT’s website:

The only program of its kind, The Writers Lab evolved in recognition of the absence of the female voice in narrative film, along with the dearth of support for script development. [...]

In its inaugural year, The Lab will take place September 18-20, 2015 at Wiawaka Center for Women on Lake George, NY. Caroline Kaplan (Boyhood, Personal Velocity), Kirsten Smith (Legally Blond, Ten Things I Hate About You), Jessica Bendinger (Bring It On, Aquamarine), Mary Jane Skalski (Win Win, The Station Agent), Gina Prince-Bythewood (Secret Life of Bees, Beyond the Lights) will be among others will be serving as mentors, pending scheduling. Mentors advise in one-on-one meetings with additional group events designed to inspire artists to hone their creative vision.

The blurb states that they’re seeking “submissions from all racial, ethnic, socioeconomic, and cultural groups” as well as a “broad selection of screenplays across all genres.” Well, are you a screenwriter over 40? They start taking applications May 1st!

Image via AP