International Women’s Day: Inspiring Women #5: Geena Davis

Geena DavisYeah, sure, Hollywood actor, Oscar Winner, Golden Globe, big whoop. Except… she’s also a sportswoman, activist, and, frankly, Big Damn Hero.

As well as narrowly missing out on joining the US Olympics team for archery, she’s also fronting the Geena Takes Aim campaign for the Women’s Sports Foundation for an Act of Congress to bring equality of sports opportunities.

She’s sponsored the ‘largest research project ever undertaken on gender in children’s entertainment‘, which showed that there were nearly three male characters to every one female character on average for the 400 children’s shows analysed.

In 2005 she launched a project with the group, Dads and Daughters, aimed at equalising gender representation in children’s programmes, and in 2007 she founded the The Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, which conducts research into the representation of women in Media (and the impact of that) and advocates for a greater female presence in the media.

If you’re on Tumblr at all, you’ve probably seen the results of her work, which has shown that just 17% of characters in group scenes are female, and, as Geena comments:

That’s what starts to look normal. And let’s think about in differen[t] segments of society – 17 percent of cardiac surgeons are women, 17 percent of tenured professors are women. It just goes on and on. And isn’t that strange that that’s also the percentage of women in crowd scenes in movies? What if we’re actually training people to see that ratio as normal so that when you’re an adult, you don’t notice?

Interview with Geena Davis in ‘Casting Call: Hollywood Needs More Women’, by NPR staff

Prompting the creation of an (unaffiliated) dedicated Tumblr called 17percenttheory.

Basically, she noted a subjective sense that there were significantly less women in the media than men, was worried about what effect that might have on her children, and she went out and got the data and the research to show that there was a problem, and then she founded an institute to work towards providing a solution. Just the effect of the spread of information and solid data (and the revelation of how little evidence had actually been collected before) has had a palpable effect on the blog-o-sphere. And her willingness to put money, time and effort where her mouth is gives me hope that she can affect real change.

Oh, and she was in Thelma and Louise. Which is awesome and feminist and shit, too.

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2 Responses to International Women’s Day: Inspiring Women #5: Geena Davis

  1. Pingback: International Women’s Day: Inspiring Women #7 – Nichelle Nichols | The Rhubosphere

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