Earlier this week UN Women announced it will partner with the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media on a global study to analyse the depiction and representation of female characters in family films.
The first-ever global gender in film research study will examine the top-grossing international movies in Australia, China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Russia, Spain and the United Kingdom.
Previous research by the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media revealed that in family films, only 28.3 per cent of all speaking characters were female. Not only are girls and women under-represented on-screen, but many are depicted in a stereotypical and sexualised light. Furthermore, few women held positions of power on screen. Only 3.4 per cent of business leader characters and 4.5 per cent of high-level politicians were female.
“By virtue of the dearth of female characters of substance in the media kids see, we are in effect teaching our children that women and girls don’t take up half of the space in the world. We’re teaching them to see that boys are doing the important and interesting things in society,” said Geena Davis.
“Media images have an enormous impact on children’s self-esteem and aspirations. This is why we decided to launch a global gender in media study: if girls see it, they can be it.”
Unhappy with the lack of female characters in children’s entertainment, Academy Award® winning actress Geena Davis, founded the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media in 2004. It is the only research-based organisation working within the media and entertainment industry to engage, educate, and influence the need for gender balance, reducing stereotyping and creating a wide variety of female characters in children’s entertainment.
There is a general consensus among health professionals, researchers and educators that high levels of media exposure to negative imagery are related to negative outcomes for both children and adults. These outcomes include effects in the areas of academic performance, body image, early sexual behaviour, and social and cultural behaviours and beliefs. These effects may also affect future life and occupational choices for women.
The Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, with support from The Rockefeller Foundation, has commissioned the ‘Global Gender in Film’ research study from Associate Professor Stacy Smith of the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism at the University of Southern California.
The Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media will present the findings of the research study during the 2nd Global Symposium on Gender in Media scheduled to take place in the second half of 2014.