June 12, 2010 by EVE · Comments Off
Meet the Geena Davis Institute and their efforts to create gender parity:
By Geena Davis
Five years ago, while watching children’s entertainment with my then 2-year old daughter, I was stunned to see that there were far more male characters than female characters in this media aimed at the youngest of children.
Media images are a powerful force in shaping our perception of men and women. The stark gender inequality in media aimed at little children is significant, as television and movies wield enormous influence on them as they develop a sense of their role in the world. And because young kids tend to watch the same TV shows and movies repeatedly, negative stereotypes get imprinted again and again.
Well, it occurred to me that it was high time for our children to see boys and girls sharing the sandbox equally.
So I launched the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, and its programming arm, “See Jane.” In collaboration with the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Southern California, we sponsored the largest research analysis ever conducted into content of children’s movies and television programs.
The results were stunning. At the dawn of a new millennium — in a world more than 50 percent female — the sorry message sent to kids by the media is that women and girls have less value than men and boys. For every female character there are three male characters in G-rated films. In group scenes, fewer than one in five characters are female.
Our research also revealed that when female characters do exist in media, most are highly stereotyped and/or hyper-sexualized. Consider this: Female characters in G-rated films wear virtually the same amount of sexually revealing clothing as female characters in R-rated films.
With such disempowering images, then, what message are girls absorbing about themselves? And what message are boys taking in about the worth and importance of girls? In fact, studies show that the more television girls watch, the more limited they consider their options in life; the more boys watch, the more sexist their views become…