Report: Women Still Stereotyped, Underrepresented On Screen

female stereotypes on screen Hollywood has long been a boys’ club—and although the industry, as a whole, has made some progress, it’s nowhere near where it should be. What’s even more alarming? Children’s TV shows and family movies are still rife with stereotypes, gender barriers and even straight-up exploitation, as evidenced in a new report from the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media.

We’re big fans of Geena’s ongoing efforts to raise awareness of gender issues in media—and this latest report sheds light on some startling facts. Take, for example, this analysis: “Interestingly, across both prime time and family films, teenaged females are most likely to be depicted thin. It seems that at every age, being female is about being sexualized.”

Prime time television, children’s programming and family-friendly films are at the center of this particular study that unveiled several key findings:

  • Females are still sidelined in popular entertainment
  • Females are still stereotyped and sexualized in popular entertainment
  • Females still suffer from an employment imbalance in film and prime time TV
  • Females still slam into a glass ceiling, particularly in family films
  • Few females find work in scientific fields

And although those results are unsettling, what’s even more alarming are the stats that accompany these summaries.

  • 22% of prime time shows have gender-balanced casts.
  • 2.25 to 1 is the ratio of male to female characters in children’s TV shows.
  • 37.5% of female characters in prime time shows have thin bodies, compared to 13.6% of male characters.

We applaud the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media for producing reports like this. After all, sharing stats and information is a key step in inspiring others to pursue change—and, after reading this report, it’s clear that change in Hollywood is desperately needed. We can start here:

“The results show that young females need more aspirational role models inhabiting a greater range of leadership positions across a variety of occupational sectors and media platforms,” according to the report. “Both young girls and boys should see female decision-makers, political leaders, managers, and scientists as the norm, not the exception. By increasing the number and diversity of female leaders and role models on screen, content creators may affect the ambitions and career aspirations of girls and young women domestically and internationally. As Geena Davis frequently states, ‘If she can see it, she can be it.’”

We couldn’t have said it better ourselves.

What are your thoughts on these findings?

  • It’s sad to see these stats, but I’m hoping that sheer numbers of women in the field will tip the scales. Where I attend school, at least half of the students are in the graphic arts/animation program. So we may see an incoming flood of ladies making a huge impact on the industry. I hope so.

    Here’s a quote from Jennifer Yuh Nelson from the Hollywood Reporter that’s encouraging. “I don’t think about the gender thing very much. But when I speak at schools, I’ve had female students say to me afterwards, “I never envisioned myself being a director, since I’ve never seen women do it.” But after seeing me, they can picture themselves directing, so maybe we’ll see more female directors. And half
    of these kids in art and animation schools are girls.”

    • brendachapman

      I have had the same mind set as Jennifer… Now when I speak at schools, I see many more women in the programs. I know it will get better. It has to.
      Thanks for your thoughts.

  • Women need to unite and gain entry or better yet create media corporations where we will have influence and impact on what images are presented to us and about us.

    • brendachapman

      We all keep trying. 🙂

  • That’s very true. Women are still underrated and we need to prove that we can do the same things that men do or even do it better than them. I think I’m feminist 🙂

    • brendachapman

      Welcome! 🙂

  • Thanks for a great blog post. We still have a long way to go! But at least being aware that the issues exist and knowing that their are individuals and organizations leading the charge there is hope that media equity can be achieved.

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