Written by Bianca Silva, President
Geena Davis, the Academy Award-winning actor and founder of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, joins the conversation sharing some eye-opening statistics at Mount Saint Mary’s University’s fourth annual Report on the Status of Women and Girls in California. As the founder of the organization, Davis encourages film and television creators to significantly increase the ratios of female characters in media and dramatically decrease gender stereotyping. No stranger to the Mount Saint Mary’s community, Davis is excited to return and participate in the event yet again. She begins by expressing her gratitude the partners the institute, Mount Saint Mary’s University and Ann McElaney-Johnson.
“Clean roles that go beyond what’s typically offered for women in this industry is one of the reasons I became so deeply committed to improving how women are portrayed in the media,” she begins. “If they can see it, they can be it,” she continues with a smile on her face as she shares the foundations motto. Negative messages regarding the importance of women and girls in all territories that are being continually being broadcasted by the media are one of Davis’ biggest motivations to make a difference. The message that women and girls don’t do half of the important things men do has become something far too prevalent in the media, directly influencing our society and the women and girls of the nation.
Last fall, The Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media released its first global gender and media study, directly studying films around the world. Lead at USC’s Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism by Dr. Stacy Smith revealed that the global statistics were not much better than what the research in the Unites States showed.
Davis’ organization directly focuses on the percentages and ratios of women being represented in the fictional workforce and comparing to the real world and how it influences our women and girls. The results she shares are extremely disappointing and shockingly much worse than what is represented in the real world. In the international films research in the study, only twenty-five percent of the employed characters are female. This is unacceptable due to the fact that women make up forty percent of the global workforce. Although the evolvement of female representation in different professions on screen has been collectively gradual, these films fail to reflect any amount of growth.
Davis delivers the following statistics: “Despite women holding twenty-one percent of the global political positions. In films, out of one hundred and twenty-seven characters holding political office on the screen, only twelve were female. In the legal domain on the screen, male judges and lawyers have outnumbered women thirteen- to-one-to, in computer science and engineering the ratio is fifteen to one.” While the global figures are unfortunate, in a number of areas the results in the United States showed even worse. This is something important to attend to because, eighty percent of media consumed around the world, is created in the United States. “So we are to a large extent, responsible for exporting a very negative image of women around the world,” Davis says.