Is there equality between Genders in the hollywood film industry?

Posted: May 18, 2011 in Articles, final folio

One of the most frequent issues being raised about the media in this modern age revolves around the representation of women in the various media outlets we as an individual are exposed to on any daily basis.

The Geena Davis Institute on Gender in the Media has conducted numerous surveys into this area to show to the public how unbalanced the world of the Media has been and maybe still is in this area of fair and equal representation of people regardless of gender.

The findings of the first study were remarkable. In the fifteen years between 1990 and 2005 the institute found that for every 3 male speaking actors in a film there would only ever be 1 female actress with a speaking role. This was found to be the same in both real and animated films.

This same study also looked past the division of labour and looked at the racial separation of the actors involved. The study discovered that 85.5% of the characters were white as opposed to just 4.8% that were black. A further 9.7% of the actors were considered to be from “other” ethnicities.

This study was then expanded to included PG and PG-13 films to see if there is an uneven percentage of male to female actors in more grown up films too. The findings of this study show that 73% of the characters in these films were male. Meaning that for every 2.71 male actors there was 1 female actress. While this is still a larger amount of men it is a slightly smaller ratio than was found by the previous study. The study then delved deeper into the types of characters that were portrayed by women. These generally fell into one of two categories: the traditional and the hypersexual. It was discovered that female actresses were over five times as likely as their male counterparts to be shown in sexually revealing clothing[1].

Clearing there is still an issue of the underrepresentation of women in Television and Films. This is not an issue that will simply be addressed overnight but will take time to resolve. Institutes like the one set up by the actress Geena Davis may not heroically change the media industry on its own but it is there to bring the issues of women in films to the knowledge of the public and from there change is beginning to occur.

However, the change is slow. From 2005 to 2006 the ratio of men to women dropped from 3 to 2.71 and has changed little since then. But even this small amount of progress has not just helped women but it has also begun to help the ethnic minorities. Since the first study was conducted by the GDIGM the percentage of ethnic minority characters has also begun to increase slowly.

If progress continues to be made equality between men and women in films and on television will soon be a reality.

[1] This was defined as attire that enhances, exaggerates, or calls attention to any part of the body from the neck to the knees.


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