Full Frame Newsmaker: Geena Davis, A Cinematic World with Women

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For more than a century, women everywhere have fought for economic and educational equality and political empowerment.  And they have fought to erase stereotypes. In our time – they have fought to alter portrayals of women in media and entertainment, which tend to undermine the status of women in everyday life.

While watching G-rated films with her young daughter, Academy Award-winning actress Geena Davis noticed how few roles were played by women – even in animated films.  Questioning what she was seeing, she uncovered an alarming statistic: the ratio of male to female characters in Hollywood films has been exactly the same since 1946. She realized the necessity of altering portrayals of women in media and entertainment and decided to create an institute to tackle this issue – The Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media.

Geena Davis joined Mike Walter on Full Frame to discuss how women are portrayed in film and television – and what she’s doing to bring about change.

One of key findings of the research conducted thus far by The Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media has been the importance of the role women play as gate keepers in the production of film and television programs.

“The ratio for men to women behind the camera is 5 to 1, if you look at director, producer, writer, cinematographer, editor – the top positions,” Geena Davis said.  “We also found that if there is a woman in one of those positions, the percentage of female characters on screen goes up.”

The Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media has also started conducting research on the portrayal of women in media around the world in the first global gender and media study.

“We are looking at films in the most popular market around the globe because we want to know what other countries are doing,” said Geena Davis. “Maybe some regions are doing much better than us in the USA.”