Founded in 2004, the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media is a research-based organization dedicated to analyzing and changing female portrayals and gender stereotypes in children's media and entertainment. Tuesday, Google launched the Global Impact Awards, and announced that the Geena Davis Institute would receive a $1.2 million grant. The funds will help researchers create software to help analyze data, so that they can do a better job of highlighting how females are portrayed.
As Angela Wattercutter writes for Wired's Underwire blog (emphasis mine):
Having a greater pool of data would help the institute highlight the disparities between men and women in media, because despite the fact that women are proving to be valuable to Hollywood – Lionsgate surpassed $1 billion at the U.S. box office for the first time this year, largely thanks to female-fronted flicks like The Hunger Games and the final Twilight movie – depictions of women, particularly in media aimed at young people, are still relatively bleak.
The Geena Davis Institute's last study (.pdf), led by USC's Smith, examined the 11,927 speaking characters in 129 family films, 275 primetime programs and 36 children's TV shows and still found that huge disparities. For example, only 28 percent of the speaking characters in family films studied were female, and 18 percent of women were shown wearing sexy attire in children's shows. The study also found imbalances in the number of women shown working versus men shown working in films and TV, and found that the number of women shown in science and tech fields was lower than the national average (an already unfortunate 25 percent).
I watched a lot of TV as a kid, and there weren't nearly as many choices, programs, channels and movies as there are today. If that 50% of kids are girls, why do so many family films — this year Wreck-It Ralph, Paranorman, Frakenweenie, Pirates Band of Misfits, among others — have male protagonists? Hopefully, with this funding, the Institute can not only shed light on the inequality, but come up with ways to fix it.
Image by andrea michele piacquadio/Shutterstock.