By Sande Smith, Director of Communications, Women’s Foundation of California
At our 30th anniversary celebration in November, Academy Award winner Geena Davis shared feedback from fans moved by her portrayals of powerful women who defy stereotypes. Now 18 years since the release of A League of Their Own and teenage girls still approach Geena inspired by the hit movie: “I play sports because of that movie. I love that movie – I’ve watched it 100 times.” Geena’s roles in Thelma & Louise and Commander in Chief have elicited equally passionate responses from women hungry to see strong, smart and complex female characters onscreen.
Geena’s commitment to shattering on-screen stereotypes of women goes beyond her roles. Six years ago, while watching children’s television programs and videos with her then 2-year old daughter, Geena noticed a remarkable imbalance in the ratio of male to female characters. Infuriated by her observations, Geena began fundraising for what’s become the largest research project ever undertaken on gender in children’s entertainment (resulting in four studies, including one on children’s television). One of the most stunning findings? The more television a girl watches, the more limited she thinks her life’s possibilities will be.
Because so much of the programming that is produced in the US is broadcast worldwide, Geena shares the results of her research with people around the world. Check out Geena’s presentation this week at the UN Economic and Social Council conference. (See the June 28, 2010 listing for the webcast). Learn more about Geena’s organization, Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media.