Gender rules

GENDER EQUALITY IN TV shows and movies for young audiences is still way off, actress Geena Davis said in an appearance at the Social Good Summit.

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Published: Wed 22 Sep 2010, 12:19 PM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 1:18 PM

The Summit was organised by the 92nd Street Y and Mashable with the United Nations Foundation.

“Boys do all the fun stuff, and girls are not there or hyper-sexualised,” Davis said about typical gender patterns.

Female characters have been underrepresented 3:1 in (child-oriented) G-rated content for decades, she said in speaking about research that her Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media has collected.

The actress expressed hope to move the needle “even a little bit” in the next five years though.

“I don’t know if we could get to 2:1,” she said when asked about her target for the next five years. “Maybe 2.5:1.”

She said a study showed that only 7 per cent of kids movies were gender-balanced.

Animated movies in particular can take a long time to make, so any progress will take a while to materialise there, she highlighted.

Her institute’s See Jane programme uses research and advocacy to work with content creators and encourage them to enable changes to the depiction.

Industry folks are often surprised to hear some of the data her team has collected and are willing to re-balance projects, the actress said. Especially given her focus on kids media, “people seem to be very open to it,” she said.

Asked by interviewer Soledad O’Brien of CNN if society needs to make more progress first, Davis said content is key, too, as young women feel they have fewer options the more TV they watch, according to research.

Importantly, the more women work behind the scenes of entertainment productions, the more females are featured on screen, Davis explained.

Davis’ advice to consumers: discuss gender representation and use mitigating language when watching TV or films with your kids.

“With my daughter, I always say why do you think there was only one female character in that movie?” she explained.

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