Geena Davis is founder of the organization Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, whose research finds that “male characters still dominate television, movies, and other media for young children.
“Since women and girls make up half of the human race, the presence of a wide variety of female characters in our children’s earliest media is essential for both girls’ and boys’ development.”
An article on the site notes:
“Findings show that the lack of strong female characters in film and TV have long term effects on society and the progress of women…
“As the Oscars and Hollywood continues to draw criticism for the lack of equal representation of gender and diversity, ground-breaking global research by the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media and J. Walter Thompson Company shows that female role models in film and TV are hugely influential in driving women to improve their lives.
From “Female Characters in Film and TV Motivate Women to Be More Ambitious, More Successful, and Courageous” – see link on the page Research Informs & Empowers.
[The photo is from Facebook/Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media.]
Screenwriter Robin Swicord (Little Women and other films) commented several years ago, “It’s our responsibility to help reverse the current negative forces – but the good news is that we know we have the power to do so. Stories and images do change lives.”
Male bias in films
A research study commissioned by Davis’ organization [“Where the Girls Aren’t: Gender Disparity Saturates G-Rated Films”] found that in 101 top-grossing G-rated movies between 1990 and 2005, “there are three male characters for every one female character; fewer than one out of three of the speaking characters (both real and animated) are female; fewer than one in five of the characters in crowd scenes are female; more than four out of five (83 percent) of the films’ narrators are male.”
Davis comments: “By making it common for our youngest children to see everywhere a balance of active and complex male and female characters, girls and boys will grow up to empathize with and care more about each others’ stories.”
Impact of film on society
In Ms. Magazine [Spring 2006] she noted:
“There’s an adage in Hollywood that women will watch stories about men but men will not watch stories about women. If your movie gets labeled a chick flick it’s the kiss of death. What if that has something to do with having seen the exact same gender disparity from minute one, from the very first cartoons and programs you see – couldn’t that possibly affect the way we grow up feeling?”
See Geena Davis and many other creative leaders in the exciting PBS documentary series Makers: Women Who Make America – in the episode Women in Hollywood.