Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media

About Us

What is the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media?

Founded by Academy Award®-winning actor and advocate Geena Davis, the Institute is the only research-based organization working within the media and entertainment industry to engage, educate, and influence the need to dramatically improve, gender balance, reduce stereotyping and create diverse female characters in entertainment targeting children 11 and under.

The Institute has amassed the largest body of research on gender prevalence in entertainment, which spans more than 20 years. Our biennial symposium is the only event convening over 300 decision makers, content creators, and thought leaders to share best practices and create a blueprint towards establishing a gender-balanced media landscape. Our most recent symposiums were held September 22, 2014 in New York, September 23, 2014 in Washington, D.C. and October 6, 2014 in Los Angeles.

We work collaboratively with decision makers and content creators through our workshops, training sessions and research-backed content evaluation and recommendations. The Institute’s community educational outreach aims to inspire and sensitize the next generation of content creators to focus on gender equality and reducing stereotyping in children’s media.

Why Did Geena Davis Create the Institute and See Jane?

While watching children’s entertainment with her young daughter, Geena Davis was astounded by the dearth of female characters. Fueled to take action, she commissioned the largest research project on gender in film and television ever undertaken, conducted by Dr. Stacy Smith at the USC Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism. The research confirmed the disparity she observed: in family films, there is only one female character for every three male characters. In group scenes, only 17% of the characters are female. The repetitive viewing patterns of children ensure that these negative stereotypes are ingrained and imprinted over and over.

What Type of Work Does the Institute Do?

The Institute is 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. We have amassed the largest body of research on gender prevalence in entertainment, which spans more than 20 years. Our biennial symposium is the only event convening over 300 decision makers, content creators, and thought leaders to share best practices and create a blueprint towards establishing a gender-balanced media landscape.

Our three-tiered approach of research, education and advocacy has brought the Institute to leading media and entertainment companies, organizations, educational institutions and multinational companies such as the United Nations, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Business Civic Leadership Center, the Wall Street Journal Women in the Economy Task Force and many others. The Institute’s research studies are frequently quoted in major media outlets including the The New York Times, Newsweek, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, USA Today, Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, The Wall Street Journal, CNN, and MSNBC.

How the Institute is Making an Impact

The Institute recently conducted an impact study of industry executives familiar with our message funded by The James Irvine Foundation. 68% said they had used the Institute’s research in two or more projects, and 41% had used the findings in three or more projects. When asked what they had changed about projects, over a quarter changed the aspirations/occupations of female characters or their dialogue. Close to one-fifth changed story development and 16% increased female characters as secondary characters.

The Institute has amassed the largest body of research on gender prevalence in entertainment, which spans more than 20 years. Our research findings are in high demand by companies, NGOs and organizations interested in the empowerment of women and girls, leadership and entrepreneurship.

The Institute is changing female portrayals and gender stereotypes in children’s entertainment and media. We work collaboratively with decision makers and content creators through our workshops, training sessions and research-backed content evaluation and recommendations. The Institute’s community educational outreach aims to inspire and sensitize the next generation of content creators to focus on gender equality and reducing stereotyping in children’s media.

Our three-tiered approach of research, education and advocacy has brought the Institute to leading media and entertainment companies, organizations, educational institutions and multi-national companies such as the United Nations, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Business Civic Leadership Center, The Wall Street Journal’s Women in the Economy Task Force and many others. The Institute’s data and reports are frequently quoted in major media outlets including The New York Times, Newsweek, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, USA Today, Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, The Wall Street Journal, CNN and MSNBC, accumulating over 1 billion audience impressions with a potential media value of over $17 million (based on Nielsen NetRatings).

What People are Saying about Us

“As an actress, Geena Davis played the first female president on TV and a baseball player in a popular movie, but as a media consumer she concluded long ago that there was something wrong in the way women were portrayed. Davis, a best actress Oscar®-winner who is trying to change the portrayal of women in media, appeared at the United Nations promoting gender equality and the empowerment of women in children’s media.” —CNN

“At the official launch of UN Women, the very famous actress Geena Davis said, ‘If girls can see it, they can be it.’ Our job is to give girls and young women the inspiration and the tools to be what we know they can be.” —UN Secretary-General Ban Kimoon

“What do actress Geena Davis, Britain’s Duchess of York, UN Secretary-General Ban Kimoon and the head of the World Congress of Muslim Philanthropists have in common? They’re all committed to empowering women.” —The Huffington Post

“Thank you to Geena Davis for recognizing the gender bias in kid’s movies and doing something to change it.” —San Francisco Chronicle

“So now Davis is taking her data to industry meetings. And she has reason to hope that some executives are listening.” —The New York Times

“Davis has personally put loads of energy into examining the damaging effects of media on young girls and advocating to put more strong female characters on screen.” —Politico

“The findings of the Geena Davis Institute studies consistently encourage us to remain mindful of gender representations in our series. We appreciate Geena’s dedication to bringing this issue to the forefront and reminding us that we can remedy it.” —Linda Simensky, PBS

“I firmly believe that the content we create in the entertainment industry has repercussions & influence beyond anything we are yet aware of, and I think See Jane & the Geena Davis Institute are powerful ways to get that information to the content creators.” —Jessica Julius, Creative Executive of Development, Walt Disney Animation

“Thank you Geena, for helping bring a voice to those who have no voice.” —Paula Clapp, Co-Founder Stolen Youth (Seattle, WA)

“We feel this is incredibly important work and, as people who watch literally hundreds and hundreds of films per year for work, we know all too well how real this issue is.” —Tom Hall, Artistic Director, The Sarasota Film Festival

“I think what you’re doing is really important, and it’s opened my eyes to our news coverage and stories as well.” —Angela Hunter, SVP & Executive Producer, Channel One News

“No parent who has tried to reconcile the sweet storyline of ‘The Little Mermaid’ with Ariel’s skimpy attire will be surprised at a new [GDIGM] study that reveals family films often portray female characters as eye candy.” —Chicago Tribune

“Geena’s commitment to shattering on-screen stereotypes of women goes beyond her roles.” —Women’s Foundation of California

“Actress Geena Davis visited the United Nations to speak on gender portrayal in the media. Well-known for her Academy Award®-winning performances and successful Hollywood career, Davis is quickly becoming more recognized for her pioneering advocacy work.” —Media Global News

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