Why I give money to the Geena Davis Institute

To me, it’s pretty obvious that females– half of the kid population– are presented as a tiny minority in animated movies. It’s also obvious that Hollywood’s manufactured minority translates to minimal female representation in everything from toys and clothing to icons on diapers, and, most tragically, into children’s imaginary play.

The Geena Davis Institute is the only organization that I know of which does major studies to calculate statistics on the lack of females in children’s media. This lack, by the way, is consistent whether kids are watching PBS or Disney.

Here’s a recent interview from Yonhap News (ever heard of it?…Emphasis below is mine)

While watching television programs with my daughter, I was astounded by the lack of female characters,” Davis said in an interview with Yonhap News Agency. “This maybe (is the reason why) I decided to help improve the situation.”
In 2004, Davis founded the research-based organization to work within the media and entertainment industries to engage, educate and influence the need for gender balance, a reduction of stereotypes and the creation of a wide variety of female characters.

Since then, the institute has been at the forefront of changing the portrayal of females and gender stereotypes, by commissioning large research projects on gender in film and television.

The institute holds a biennial symposium to release its research and showcase it to producers in the film industry. The actress also regularly meets with movie and animated film producers in attempts to change how they think about gender balance.

Despite her efforts, Davis said there is still “no improvement because the ratio of female to male characters has been exactly the same since 1946.”

If we add female characters at the rate they have been, we will have equality in 700 years,” the actress said, citing a study. “It’s the same thing in other sectors of the society. If we add women to congress (at the current rate), it will take 500 years (to reach equality.)“…

“We are raising funds for the first global study on gender depiction in the media,” Davis said.

I give money to the Geena Davis Institute because the world likes to see numbers before actually creating change. Those numbers get publicized, and that, hopefully, convinces parents that this radical sexism is not the “opinion” of  a few, but factual and rampant. If you see what I see, protect your children’s imagination. There is no good reason for the fantasy world to be sexist.

Donate to the Geena Davis Institute now. Help spread the word and change the world.  Here is the link.

12 thoughts on “Why I give money to the Geena Davis Institute

  1. And not only should they be looking at the ratio of male vs female, they probably should be concerned with how females are represented. 500 women in a bordello doesn’t do all that much to help women’s image overall.

    Course this is children’s animated films so…maybe bordello wasn’t the best example. But what about the surprising regularity of women actors and voice actors simply portraying a “love interest?”

    Welp, that’s my 2 cents. 🙂

    • Actually, you’d be surprised… brothels aren’t inexistent in children’s films, Chihiro, from Spirited Away, worked at one the entire movie.

    • Hi Aninha,

      I think it is only male versus female and I think that is good.

      The impact so far, as far as I have noticed, is awareness. This is blatant sexism, and sexism against KIDS, and hardly any one says its wrong. Not only that, as I wrote, GDI gives stats and figures. That is always the first step.


      • But what else do they plan to do and for when? How much money what they do actually takes?

        And one thing I’ve yet to see is a specific measure like, say, the bechdel test, to check for this “sexism by invisibility”. Just counting doesn’t seem to reflect real progress.

        For example, the old my little pony had a huge number of females, yet there’s nothing more sexist than a show that doesn’t give its characters personality or conflict because the target audience are girls, avatar the last airbender has and almost equal number of females and males, and it is one of the better western shows when it comes to having complex females I’ve seen. A measure that only shows the numbers would tell us my little pony g1 was the better show.

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