Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media

News Archive

Here's the latest on the Institute and Geena Davis.

May 25, 2017 Wind Dancer Day

Geena Davis and Madeline di Nonno with Wind Dancer Films Partner Dete Meserve and twenty kids and family series creators working on projects with Wind Dancer.

We have all heard about the issues of gender representation and Hollywood. While it is film and primetime television that get the most attention, the area that may have the biggest impact is in children’s TV. Why is children’s television so important? It is because it is from children’s media that kids often form the views that will guide them later on, in school and in life. According to data from the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, the more hours of media girls consume, the fewer life options they believe they have, while the more hours boys watch, the more sexist they become.

Said Davis, “It’s important to focus on children’s television in an effort to avoid creating a problem we’re working to solve later on.”

Certainly, the “all boys club” of children’s television (with the obvious exception of Dora the Explorer and Doc McStuffins) has made progress in recent years. Just one look at today’s lineup of popular programs shows an extensive list that have leading female characters, including Ready Jet Go!, Annedroids, Kate & Mim-Mim, Peg + Cat, Sophia the First, Nella the Princess Knight, and more.

However, that doesn’t mean that there isn’t lots more work to do. Wind Dancer Films, the company behind the animated space-themed hit Ready Jet Go! on PBS KIDS, is looking to use its prominent role as a producer of children’s programming to be a part of the solution. Wind Dancer Principal Dete Meserve joined forces with the Geena Davis Institute to host a Summit of 20 leading kids’ television creators who are working on Wind Dancer Films projects to discuss where things stand and what needs to be done.

“We can change the way the future looks by what we do in kids television today. When kids watching their favorite TV shows see girls and boys equally at play, it just becomes natural for them to think and know that girls have as much potential as boys do.”

The Summit opened with a presentation from Davis and the organization’s CEO Madeline Di Nonno, during which they cited both qualitative and quantitative evidence of the disparity in screen time, speaking time, and lead roles for male versus female actors in G-rated (and non-G-rated) films and shows. The disparity that girls see on screen, both in main characters and background crowd scenes (where there are typically only 17 percent females despite females comprising 50 percent of the population) is the reason that Davis says it is urgent that the problem is fixed. Her advice to makers is simple: cross out a bunch of first names in your script and replace them with female first names, mind your crowd scenes – make sure they’re evenly split, and make sure 50 percent of the population is women/girls.

The work that the Institute has done has been paying off in dividends. Davis has been making her case to media-makers around the world since 2004. Since then, 68% of industry executives briefed on the Institute’s research changed two or more of their projects; 41% changed four or more.

The creators – more than half of them women – who gathered for the event are all currently involved in upcoming children’s television projects with Wind Dancer. They all seem to recognize the issue and readily agreed with Davis’ approach, even giving examples of where they were already achieving gender balance on-screen and behind the camera. They also brainstormed numerous ways to ensure that girls are given equal lines of dialogue and aren’t stereotyped on screen.

“What a thought-provoking experience. Even if we believe we act in a positive female gender promoting way, the facts on the unconscious bias truly made me rethink my level of awareness,” said Fonda Snyder, a Development Executive working with Wind Dancer on various projects. “I am literally going to do a check of each and every book I am representing and every project I am developing using the information presented and make a very conscious adjustment to all of these project to make sure I create and represent girls and women in the most positive and fair and wondrous way,”

In addition to Fonda Snyder, Wind Dancer creators attending the event included Craig Bartlett (Ready Jet Go!, Hey Arnold!), Don Hahn (Butterscotch + Kit for Wind Dancer, Beauty and the Beast, Lion King), Mark Dindal (Butterscotch + Kit for Wind Dancer, Emperor’s New Groove), Carin Greenberg (Not A Box,Tumble Leaf), and Kim Berglund (World Wide Webbers), among others.

“Fantastic presentation. I hope there will be more girl characters (in general), but especially more girl characters who are lovable and appealing for what they do and not how they look,” said Rebecca Dudley (author of Hank Finds an Egg, a project in development at Wind Dancer Films). “I will never write another conventionally beautiful character unless she has personality traits that define her more than her appearance.”

March 29, 2017 Geena Davis on Doc McStuffins

Princesses Can Do Anything! Princess Persephone (Geena Davis) show Doc and the toys that a princess can not only rescue herself but others too! Watch Video…

February 21, 2017 Beloved Actress Geena Davis Visits Walt Disney World Resort

Actress, producer, and writer Geena Davis, takes her family on a surprise winter vacation to Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida. Geena, the mother of two tween boys, spent a majority of her time on the big thrill ride attractions including Big Thunder Mountain Railroad at Magic Kingdom Park. A big change of pace from the Disney classics like “it’s a small world” when they were little. Geena was able to sneak in a little one-on-one time with Minnie Mouse, though! Read More…

February 16, 2017 Hollywood star to shine at high tea

Put on a headscarf over your hair and hold her hand tight, as women from the Northern Rivers drive to see Thelma and Louise star Geena Davis at a Regional High Tea. Davis, 61, will be appearing in a live stream from Sydney Opera House All About Women Festival. One of Hollywood’s most respected actors, Geena Davis is recognised for her advocacy of gender equality in media, nearly as much as for her acting accomplishments. She is an official partner of UN Women, working toward their goal of promoting gender equality and empowering women worldwide. Davis is also the Chair of the California Commission on the Status of Women. Read More…

February 13, 2017 Geena Davis Is On a Mission for Gender Equality in the Media

Don’t discount the power of a media image on a young girl’s life, says Academy Award-winning actor Geena Davis (Tootsie, Thelma & Louise, The Accidental Tourist, A League of Their Own), who was in Sarasota Monday giving two charming and humor-laden talks at the Ringling College Library Association Town Hall series about a serious subject: the damaging way that females in American television and film are overwhelmingly “sidelined, hypersexualized or simply not there.” Why does that matter? Elizabeth Gray, the Ringling College student who painted Davis’ portrait and presented it to her backstage before her morning talk, gave the perfect answer. She’d seen A League of Their Own as a young child, she told Davis, and because of it she’d always wanted to be a baseball catcher. But when she got old enough to join a team she was told she was too scrawny. “I said no, if Dottie Hinson (the role Davis played) can be a catcher, so can I.” And she went on to catch for school baseball teams for eight years. Read More…

February 13, 2017 Geena Davis will speak at United Way event in Phoenix

Geena Davis, an Academy Award winning actor who is one of Hollywood’s most respected stars, is coming to Phoenix to speak at a luncheon presented by the Women’s Leadership Council of the Valley of the Sun United Way. “We Are UNITED,” a fundraising event to help fund Valley of the Sun United Way’s Breakfast in the Classroom program, will take place from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Friday, April 28 at The Phoenician Resort. Read More…

February 07, 2017 Geena Davis, Female YouTubers Unite for Gender Equality in Media

Move over Louise, Thelma has three new pals riding shotgun. Geena Davis has wrangled a trio of successful female creators from YouTube for a new campaign pushing for gender equality in media. Unlike her reckless roadtrip with Susan Sarandon in the legendary “Thelma & Louise,” this trip is headed for higher ground than the floor of the Grand Canyon in a Thunderbird. Like the iconic 1991 film though, Ford is back on board. “#ShesGotDrive” is a branded content campaign promoting gender equality on-camera, off-camera, and female empowerment throughout the media and entertainment industries. Read More…

February 07, 2017 Taryn Southern, Yulin Kuang and Clara Chung Join Geena Davis Institute’s #ShesGotDrive Campaign

Last night at the YouTube Space in Los Angeles, the Geena David Institute on Gender in Media, in partnership with YouTube and Ford, launched a brand new campaign called #ShesGotDRIVE, bringing together some of YouTube’s most popular and powerful female voices to promote a vision of female empowerment and equality. The #ShesGotDrive campaign has enlisted the help of YouTube powerhouses Taryn Southern, Yulin Kuang and Clara Chung (A.K.A. “Clara C.“) to make videos that both tell the stories of their own inspirations, path, and drive, as well as emphasize the fact that girls and women need to see more women like themselves in media in order for things to change in the real world. Read More…

February 06, 2017 #shesgotDRIVE on YouTube

Watch #shesgotDRIVE stories our YouTube channel and share your stories of of the inspirational women in your life who have drive on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram with #shesgotDRIVE. Watch Now…

February 03, 2017 This Disheartening Fact About Women Over 40 In Hollywood Is Exactly Why Geena Davis Is Fighting So Hard For Equality

To be an older woman working in Hollywood — and by older, I mean, sadly, anyone over the age of 30 or so — requires something of a Herculean effort. Women of any age have a hard time finding quality roles on-screen, but those whom the industry considers past their prime have an even more difficult time getting roles and staying relevant. A 2016 analysis by Clemson economists Robert Fleck and Andrew Hanssen found that after age 40, male actors get 80 percent of the leading roles available, leaving women with just 20 percent, according to The Washington Post — a fact that, while sadly not surprising, is disturbing enough to motivate activists and actors like Geena Davis to get involved in the fight for female equality on-screen. Read More…

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