International Study on Gender Images in Global Films

Gender Bias Press Conference

In a press release on September 22, the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, UN Women and The Rockefeller Foundation presented an international study on gender images in global films. There was a press conference to share the information from the study.

UN Women Releases Global Study on Women Characters in Film with the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media and The Rockefeller Foundation

Geena Davis spoke at the press conference. She said,

The fact is – women are seriously under-represented across nearly all sectors of society around the globe, not just on-screen, but for the most part we’re simply not aware of the extent. And media images exert a powerful influence in creating and perpetuating our unconscious biases.

Here are some of the key findings. The information is also available in an Infographic, which I put in a separate post because it’s large.

  • less than one third of all speaking characters in film are female.
  • less than a quarter of the fictional on-screen workforce is comprised of women
  • female characters are largely absent from powerful positions
  • women characters represent less than 15 per cent of business executives, political figures, or science, technology, engineering, or math (STEM) employees
  • male characters outnumber female characters as attorneys and judges (13 to 1), professors (16 to 1), and doctors (5 to 1)
  • girls and women were over twice as likely as boys and men to be shown in sexualized attire or with some nudity
  • females are missing in action films, being only 23 per cent of speaking characters in this genre
  • films with a female director or female writer had more girls and women on-screen than did those without a female director or writer

If She Can See It, She Can Be It

Speaking at the press conference, Geena Davis said,

. . . media images can also have a very positive impact on our perceptions. In the time it takes to make a movie, we can change what the future looks like. There are woefully few women CEOs in the world, but there can be lots of them in films. How do we encourage a lot more girls to pursue science, technology and engineering careers? By casting droves of women in STEM, politics, law and other professions today in movies.

I’ve been harping on this same theme for quite some time.

The press release event was chronicled on Storify.  It includes lots of photos and tweets describing much more of what happened at the event.

The study was conducted by Stacy L. Smith (PhD), Marc Choueiti, & Katherine Pieper (PhD) at the Media, Diversity & Social Change Initiative at the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, University of Southern California. You can download the full report.

Images from UN Women on Flickr

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