About Us

Who we are?

Founded in 2004 by Academy Award Winning Actor Geena Davis, we’re the only organization working collaboratively within the entertainment industry to engage, educate and influence the creation of gender balanced onscreen portrayals, reducing harmful stereotypes and creating an abundance of unique and intersectional female characters in entertainment targeting children 11 and under.

What’s the issue? Social Imperative

Media is one of the most important factors influencing our values. Women and girls are 51% of the population, but entertainment media is bereft of female characters, with a ratio of approximately 3:1 male characters to female characters since the 1940s.

  • Kids and teens (8-18) are engaging with media more than 7 hours a day.
  • Media consumption impacts mental health: 52% increase in major depression in adolescents from 2005-2017.
  • Sexualization of women in media linked to eating disorders, low self-esteem and depression in girls.

What’s the Issue? Business Imperative

  • On-screen portrayals are easy to fix; positive depictions have instant impact.
  • In a benchmark study of the top 100 largest grossing family films from 2007 to 2017, female-led films generated 55% more at the box office.
  • In 2017, films led by people of color generated 16% more at the box office than films with white leads.

What is our solution?

“Media has the power to educate… to shape people’s thoughts. It also has an incredible power when you see someone like you on screen.” ~ Shonda Rhimes

Our data-driven research, education, and advocacy empowers and inspires advertisers and content creators to reimagine the media landscape to reflect our ever-changing society. Our research provides data driven information and metrics to inform, guide and serve as interventions for the creative process in media and entertainment.

The purpose of the research is not to educate the public; we take the data directly to the creators of children’s media and share it in a private, collegial way. And at every studio, work, and production company we visit, the reaction is the same: they are stunned.

They had no idea how profoundly they were shortchanging women and girls.

Our Impact

The Institute is the go-to resource and thought leader on gender in media for over a decade. Our expertise has prompted significant change in messaging at major networks, studios, production companies, guilds and agencies. For example, GDIGM has:

  • Influenced significant gender portrayal in leading content such as family films Inside Out, Hotel Transylvania, The Little Prince, Monsters University and TV shows The Dark Crystal, Empire, DocMcStuffins.
  • Conducted custom educational workshops and presentations for industry leaders including: Cartoon Network, CBS, Disney Animation, DreamWorks, Electronic Arts, FOX Feature Animation, Google/YouTube, Hearst, HIT, ITVS, PBS, Sesame Workshop, Sony Feature Animation, Universal Pictures, Variety, The Walt Disney Company, Warner Bros.
  • Our SmartBrief newsletter publishes breaking news, trends, research and insights on Gender in Media from around the world.

68% of entertainment industry executives familiar with the Institute’s research changed 2 or more projects, 41% changed 4 or more projects. Changes included aspirations/occupations of female characters, their dialogue, story development or an increase in female characters. Review our Impact Study.

The Institute’s research are frequently cited in major media outlets and programs including The New York Times, Newsweek, Chicago Tribune, FOX News, Good Morning America, The Jimmy Kimmel Show, 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 $10 million. (Source: Nielsen Net Ratings).

Testimonials

“They have made great strides to change the landscape of media and programming to reflect a more accurate, gender balanced, diverse portrayal of society.”

– Nina Tassler, Chairman, CBS Entertainment

"No one has done more to bring strong, complex and truly inspirational female characters to both large and small screens."

– Wallis Annenberg, Chairman of the Board, President and CEO of the Annenberg Foundation

We’re proud to partner with the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media as we work to empower girls. It’s so important that young girls have examples of women on-screen that are smart, resilient, and inspiring, so they can grow up to reach their full potential.

– Paula Kerger, President and CEO of PBS

Mount Saint Mary’s University – Our Fiscal Sponsor

The Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media is fiscally sponsored by Mount Saint Mary’s University. They provide the administrative and financial support that allow us to focus on fulfilling our organizational mission. Please contact Elizabeth Kilpatrick via email for a copy of Mount Saint Mary’s 501(c)3 or other financial information.

IF SHE CAN SEE IT, SHE CAN BE IT