13 Ways Females are Underrepresented, Stereotyped and Sexualized on Screen
A League of Their Own is one of my all time favorite movies and now its leading lady Geena Davis is paving the way for women and girls to have equal representation on screen.
Davis founded the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, the only research-based organization 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 for entertainment targeting children 11 and under.
The Institute’s latest study revealed some very depressing findings in regards to women and girls on screen. Overall the study found that women and girls are not only largely absent on screen, but they are also stereotyped and sexualized.
Take a look at some of the study’s key findings.
Women and Girls Largely Absent on Screen
- Females are not as prevalent as males on screen in popular media.
- There are far fewer speaking characters that are females in family films (28.3%), prime-time programs (38.9%), and children shows (30.8%).
- A large percentage of stories are “extremely” male centric, casting boys/men in 74% or more of speaking roles on television.
- Children’s programs and comedy series are the most imbalanced genres in prime time, with less than a third of all on screen speaking characters coded as girls or women.
Women and Girls As “Eye Candy” on Screen
- Females are far more likely than males to be depicted wearing sexy attire and showing exposed skin.
- Females are far more likely to be referenced by another character as physically attractive.
- Females are far more likely to appear thin on screen.
Women Hit Glass Ceiling On Screen
- A higher percentage of male characters than female character are shown working in family films and prime-time shows.
- Women only hold 20.3% of the total on screen occupations in family films, 34.4% of all jobs in prime-time programs, and represent 25.3% of those employed in children’s shows.
- In family films and prime-time shows, only two women are shown in the executive office of major corporations (i.e. CEOs, CFOs, Presidents, VPs, and GMs).
- In family films and prime-time shows, not one female character is depicted at the top of the financial sector, legal arena or journalism.
- Not one speaking character plays a powerful American female political figure across 5,839 speaking characters in 129 family films.
- Males are almost four times as likely as females to be shown on screen in STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) careers.
Girls watch an average of seven hours of television every day. It is clear that they need more aspirational role models on screen to show them that women can succeed in leadership positions. Good thing there are places like the Geena Davis Institute on Gender and Media to make sure this happens.
Check out the Institute’s latest PSA If She Can See It, She Can Be It.
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Photo credit: Photo by oddharmonic used with a Creative Commons license.