Geena Davis Determined to End Gender Inequity in Children’s Entertainment

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World-renowned celebrity Geena Davis is not only concerned about films and the entertainment industry. She is also determined to end gender inequality.

To address the the prevailing gender inequity in children’s entertainment, Davis formed the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media.

The non-profit organization aims to study and quantify gender inequity in children’s entertainment and to use the results to effect change from within the industry.

The study entitled “Gender Disparity On Screen and Behind the Camera in Family Films,” by Stacy L. Smith, PhD and Marc Choueiti, was conducted at USC Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism.

Shocking Results

The study examined 122 top-grossing domestic family films rated G, PG, PG-13 from 2006-09. The results stunned the award-winning actress.

Our latest research shocked us. Zero progress has been made in what is specifically aimed at kids. What children see affects their attitudes toward male and female roles in society. And, as they watch the same shows and movies repeatedly, negative stereotypes are imprinted over and over again. Eye candy is not for kids.” – Davis.

In addition, male characters dominated the casts of the movies where out of 5,554 speaking characters studied, 71% were male, 29% female. This means a ratio of 2.42 males to every 1 female. This is a sad thing for this kind of scenario has not changed much in 20 years.

Even worse, female characters are more likely to be shown as “eye candy.” This can be better depicted by the results of the study that showed  a higher percentage of women than men are depicted in sexualized attire (24% vs. 4%) and as physically attractive (14% vs. 3.6%). Also, these female characters are often portrayed as younger than their male counterparts, reinforcing the idea that youthfulness, beauty, and a sexy demeanor are more important for women than for men.

Eye candy is not for kids.” – Davis

What is the Institute’s antidote?

To address this challenge, the Institute recommends that more female characters must be cast and must be shown in non-stereotypical activities. In addition, hiring more women behind-the-scenes is crucial to solve this problem. This is best explained by the key outcomes of the study where gender inequities are even more dramatic behind the camera (only 7% of directors, 13% of writers and 20% of producers are female).  However, it was revealed that films with one or more female screenwriters depict 10% more girls and women on screen than do those films with all male screenwriters. Geena Davis came up with the assumption that women can drive change in the industry.

To further reach this goal, the Institute and its programming arm See Jane work collaboratively with the studios, networks, and leading content creators using cutting-edge research, and strategic guidance to provide doable solutions. The Institute also hosts a bi-annual industry think-tank symposium.

Geena Davis, Academy Awardwinning actress and founder of non-profit organization Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media
Geena Davis, Academy Awardwinning actress and founder of non-profit organization Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media

To review the full study go to www.seejane.org

About The Geena Davis Institute On Gender In Media: Founded in 2004, The Geena Davis Institute On Gender In Media and its programming arm See Jane work with entertainment industry leaders and companies to improve media images of girls in all aspects of entertainment targeting children 11 and under. Its goal is to transform how the entertainment industry represents girls in its productions, sensitize the industry on gender portrayals, and reduce stereotyping and objectification of females in children’s media and entertainment. For more information, please visit www.seejane.org.

About Geena Davis: Ms. Davis, an Oscar-winning actor, is partnered with UNIFEM and was recently appointed by the Governor to serve on the California Commission on the Status of Women. For many years Geena Davis partnered with the Women’s Sports Foundation, including ten years as a Trustee, advocating for girls’ rights and equal participation in sports. She is on the board of the The White House Project, a nonpartisan and nonprofit organization working to advance women’s leadership in business, politics, and media. Geena Davis, frequently addresses national organizations on women’s leadership, empowerment, and gender policy.

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