Girls rock, and the entertainment industry needs to recognize it.
That's the mantra for The Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media (GDIGM), which recently released a study that found that content creators are aware of gender imbalances in family films and want to give female characters their due.
The study, "Changing the Status Quo: Industry Leaders' Perceptions of Gender in Family Films," also found that content creators, such as movie director or TV show writers, believe gender equality is important, and not that difficult to attain - particularly when it comes to family-friendly programming.
Madeline Di Nonno is the Institute's executive director and spearheads See Jane, a program which works cooperatively with entertainment industry to encourage story lines that are gender balanced and promote women in positive ways. In an interview with genConnect, Di Nonno told us that producers and directors are creating great female characters; however, change will not happen overnight.
Di Nonno noted that 500 to 600 movies are made a year, but it can take five years for an animated film to be finished. So, we should see progress in females' roles by 2015. Meanwhile parents should take a role in shaping the way children internalize what they see on the screen.
"Parents should watch shows with their children and use mitigating language if there's a theme where there aren't enough female characters," Di Nonno said. "Ask your children, 'Do you think a girl could have played that character?'"
The Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, founded by Academy Award winning actress Geena Davis, aims to increase awareness of the importance of females' role in entertainment. Six years ago, while watching children's television programs and videos with her young daughter, Davis noticed a large imbalance in the ratio of male to female characters. She then began to raise funds to research gender in children's entertainment.
The research showed that in the top-grossing G-rated films, there were three male characters for every one female - a statistic that the organization says still has not improved. The organization's previous study, "An Examination of Gender On Screen and Behind the Camera in G, PG, and PG-13 Films," found that within films especially geared towards children and families, female roles remain not only scarce, but highly sexualized, stereotyped and marginalized.
Davis' own career has included roles as as baseball player in the favorite film, "A League of Their Own," the country's first female president in the hit ABC television show, "Commander in Chief," and a female pirate in the film, "Cutthroat Island."
One important finding of the study was that content creators do think gender equality is not only possible, but very important, particularly in family-friendly films.
What do you think? What family-friends films of recent and past years do you think did a poor job portraying women?
Click here for more findings from the study.
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