Geena Davis, an Academy Award–winning actor and founder of Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, presented a lecture about gender representation and equality in the media March 31 in Ford Hall. The lecture served as keynote for the Media for Social Responsibility minicourse titled Media and Body Image, which was open to all Ithaca College students.
She provided sobering statistics about the lack of female representation in the media, particularly media targeting children under the age of 11. The little representation that exists is usually narrowly stereotyped or highly sexualized.
Young children are highly susceptible to what they see in the media. If the media that is directed at youth under the age of 11 reflects problematic inequalities, it sends the message that women and girls are less valuable than boys and men through the limited representation they receive. Future generations are going to continue to hold sexist and flawed perspectives.
However, since media have so much power over how we view ourselves and others, it can be a powerful way to enact change. Gender equality in government representation is not going to happen overnight, but if people are seeing empowering and empowered characters on screen with increased diversity, it will start to chip away at the unconscious gender bias that we are socialized to have and will hopefully prevent younger generations from inheriting this bias at all.
It is vital that everyone take action to fight the unconscious gender bias within and to prevent younger generations from developing this bias.