About a decade ago, actress Geena Davis was alarmed by the lack of female characters in film while watching G-rated movies with her daughter.
The realisation led Davis to create her namesake Institute on Gender in Media, which has sponsored the largest amount of research ever done on gender depictions in media, covering a 20-year-plus span.
Davis wrote a guest column in this week’s Hollywood Reporter explaining her findings on research done at the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism:
“…for every one female-speaking character in family-rated films (G, PG and PG-13), there are roughly three male characters; that crowd and group scenes in these films — live-action and animated — contain only 17 per cent female characters; and that the ratio of male-female characters has been exactly the same since 1946.
… we are in effect enculturating kids from the very beginning to see women and girls as not taking up half of the space. Couldn’t it be that the percentage of women in leadership positions in many areas of society — Congress, law partners, Fortune 500 board members, military officers, tenured professors and many more — stall out at around 17 per cent because that’s the ratio we’ve come to see as the norm?”
As a result, Davis has a two-step plan to alleviate the gender inequality problem in media:
Step 1: Go through the projects you’re already working on and change a bunch of the characters’ first names to women’s names … What if the taxi driver or the scheming politician is a woman? What if both police officers that arrive on the scene are women — and it’s not a big deal?
Step 2: When describing a crowd scene, write in the script, “A crowd gathers, which is half female.” That may seem weird, but I promise you, somehow or other on the set that day the crowd will turn out to be 17 per cent female otherwise.
Read the full guest column on THR here >
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