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Salon: Storytelling – Breaking Boundaries for Women & Girls Recap

Attended by Leading Entertainment Industry and Corporate Influencers

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Science and the Screen: Geena Davis Institute Salon Event a Huge Success

August 6, 2014
Hosted by YouTube Space L.A.

Strategic Storytelling Raises Bar For Women

By Mia Adler Ozair, MA, LPCC, NCC

Hosted by YouTube Space, there could not have been a better place to hold the most recent Geena Davis Institute Salon addressing “Storytelling: Breaking the Boundaries for Women & Girls.” Dynamic panelists representing a variety of new and emerging media avenues discussed how the new technologies are affording them the ability to develop and showcase quality storylines that highlight, feature, and promote women both on and behind the screen. Ms. Davis opened the event with an important reminder that we still have much work to do to reach parity between men and women both on and off screen. With women represented only 17% of the time across the spectrum of the entertainment industry, there is a dire need for improvement! Although generally speaking cultural shifts can take time, the casting and hiring of women in all capacities of the entertainment industry is something that can have an immediate impact and can be done literally overnight.

Moderated by Dyllan McGee, Founder and Executive Director of MAKERS, the panelists revealed insightful information based upon their personal and professional experience. Here are just some of the highlights from the discussion:

  • Those working in new and emerging media are finding an appreciation for the story within female characters and are organically expanding the content based upon women’s lives.
  • Many are working diligently to avoid stereotyping of female characters and simply tell interesting and solid stories based upon the integrity of the character and not based upon gender.
  • One panelist highlighted some statistics that when it comes to giving and sharing—of themselves and their resources—women tend to “out-gift” men with their generosity.
  • The entertainment industry is starting to pick up on the key fact that young girls want to be represented and reflected in media and see their own stories on the screen. The significance of this is to reach way beyond what we have stereotypically seen in women on screen and delve into the richness and complexity of the female experience.
  • With YouTube content, for example, reaching larger and younger audiences, there is the opportunity to change the expectation of women’s representation on the screen. For example, most adults have been desensitized to the lack of women on screen. However, if younger girls are seeing a more balanced ration of men to women on the screen, they will grow with this as the norm and expectation and therefor support media endeavors that shift to these new and improved ratios.
  • Alternate platforms of new and emerging media are breaking boundaries by giving opportunities for new women’s voices in this new space.
  • We are finding more female-driven content and creators in these newly forming platforms, and there is an increase in reaching out to hidden female talent on such platforms as YouTube to invite them to participate on already established on-line platforms. This brings encouragement, excitement, and better visibility to young girls and women who are out there bringing their message to the world.
  • Generally speaking, the panelists expressed a greater comfort in being able to push the envelope and create more roles and presence for women on continue to shine the light on the problem of under-representation of women in media across the board.

One of my favorite quotes of the night that I think sums up where we wish to head is this: “At the end of the day, a good story is a good story, and if it means that a women is the lead or the writer or the producer, then so be it.” It is this kind of thinking that will enable all of us to shrink that gender gap, increase the percentage of women being represented across the entertainment field, and create a much needed cultural shift placing women on equal footing. As we all know, and as the Geena Davis Institute strives to support, if she can see it, she can be it! The more women are participating in and influencing media, the more empowered generations of girls and women can become.