Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media

Culture and Media

Geography: Global

Founded: 2007

What is the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media?

Founded in 2004 by Academy Award®-winning actor and advocate Geena Davis, the Institute and its programming arm, See Jane, are at the forefront of changing female portrayals and gender stereotypes in children's media and entertainment. The Institute is uniquely positioned to spotlight gender inequalities at every media and entertainment company through cutting-edge research, education, training, strategic guidance and advocacy programs. Our mission is to work within the entertainment industry to dramatically alter how girls and women are reflected in media.

Why Did Geena Davis Create the Institute and See Jane?

While watching children's entertainment with her young daughter, Geena Davis was astounded by the dearth of female characters. Fueled to take action, she commissioned the largest research project on gender in film and television ever undertaken, conducted by Dr. Stacy Smith at the USC Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism. The research confirmed the disparity she observed: in family films, there is only one female character for every three male characters. In group scenes, only 17% of the characters are female. The repetitive viewing patterns of children ensure that these negative stereotypes are ingrained and imprinted over and over.

What Type of Work Does the Institute Do?

The Institute is the only research-based organization working within the media and entertainment industry to engage, educate, and influence the need for gender balance, reducing stereotyping and creating a wide variety of female characters for entertainment targeting children 11 and under. We have amassed the largest body of research on gender prevalence in entertainment, which spans more than 20 years. Our biennial symposium is the only event convening over 300 decision makers, content creators, and thought leaders to share best practices and create a blueprint towards establishing a gender-balanced media landscape.

Our three-tiered approach of research, education and advocacy has brought the Institute to leading media and entertainment companies, organizations, educational institutions and multinational companies such as the United Nations, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Business Civic Leadership Center, the Wall Street Journal Women in the Economy Task Force and many others. The Institute's research studies are frequently quoted in major media outlets including the The New York Times, Newsweek, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, USA Today, Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, The Wall Street Journal, CNN, and MSNBC.

How the Institute is Making an Impact

  • The Institute has amassed the largest body of research on gender prevalence in entertainment, which spans more than 20 years. Our research findings are in high demand by companies, NGOs and organizations interested in the empowerment of women and girls, leadership and entrepreneurship.

  • The Institute is the go-to resource and thought leader on gender in media. We have effected change at major networks, studios, production companies, guilds and agencies. Our SmartBrief newsletter publishes breaking news, trends, research and insights on Gender in Media from around the world.

  • The biennial Geena Davis Institute Symposium on Gender in Media convenes over 300 entertainment industry decision makers, thought leaders and content creators to work toward improving gender equality in children's media. In a survey following the December 2010 Second Symposium on Gender in Media, more than 90% of attendees stated that the information they learned will influence how they perceive gender balance and stereotypes in their work, and 98% will share and utilize our research findings with their peers and in their companies.

  • The Institute continues to work on inspiring and sensitizing the next generation of content creators to focus on gender and equality in children's media through its partnerships with the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences College Television Awards, student filmmakers through our "Guess Who" educational video series, and our educational outreach to middle school students through the Sarasota Film Festival.