Geena Davis is asking for support for her Institute on Gender in Media. Here's what she says.
I've been a lifelong advocate of women and girls. I am writing to ask you to join me by becoming a member of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media.
While watching children's programming with my daughter who was 2 at that time, I was astounded to see a dearth of female characters in children's entertainment. This greatly concerned me and I was compelled to confirm my observations, so I commissioned the largest research study on gender in children's film and television ever undertaken. Our research proved the vast disparity I witnessed:
* There are 3 male characters for every 1 female character, even in top-grossing G-rated family films. This ratio has remained the same as it was just after World War II -- more than 65 years ago.
* Girls and women serve primarily as "eye candy." Female characters are almost six times as likely as males to be shown in revealing clothing. Consider this: female animated characters in G-rated films wear the same percentage of sexually revealing attire as R-rated live action characters.
* In G-rated family films from 2006-2009, female characters were not depicted with career occupations in the field of medical science, as a business leader, in law, or in politics.
* Females behind the camera are still scarce. Men outnumber women in key production roles by nearly 5 to 1. Only 7% of directors, 13% of writers, and 20% of producers are female. However, when one woman writer works on a film, there is a 10% increase in on-screen time female characters.
There is a general consensus among health professionals, researchers and educators that high levels of exposure to negative images are related to detrimental outcomes for children and adults. These outcomes impact self-esteem, academic performance, body image, social and cultural behaviors and beliefs and will ultimately impact future life and occupational choices for women.
The Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media is the only research organization working collaboratively with entertainment media industry leaders to engage, educate and influence them to recognize the need for gender balance, address stereotyping and objectification, and produce a wide variety of female characters for entertainment targeting children 11 and under.
Media can also create positive opportunities to overcome social and cultural barriers - and that is what the Institute is striving for. Our workshops and consulting with leading media companies and corporations are influencing how they portray media. In a survey following the 2010 Symposium, over 90% of attendees stated that the information they learned would influence how they perceive gender balance and stereotypes in their work and 98% would share and utilize our research findings with their peers and in their companies.
Please take action today to affect how girls and women are portrayed in the media, one of the most powerful forces shaping girl's perception of themselves and their role in society. Exposure to negative images in the media impact self-esteem, academic performance, body image, and social and cultural behaviors and beliefs - all of which ultimately impact future life and occupational choices for women.
Here are some ways you can help:
* Sign up for the Institute's Smart Brief on Gender in Media, a free weekly briefing on the important issues in gender in media.
* Get involved in one of our educational classroom outreach programs designed to inform and empower. View the first video in our children's educational video series. This video debuted in 8,500 middle and high schools reaching 6 million students via Channel One. In 2012, this series will be expanded and launched in partnership with ITVS and PBS's Women and Girls Lead campaign.
* Become an active contributor in the pursuit of gender equality today. Make a donation. Every dollar helps us fund research and educational outreach efforts that will make a difference for girls.