Dec 14, 2007 03:33 PM EST

Geena Davis Institute to Hold Children Gender in Film and Television Conference

Three years ago, while watching children's television programs and videos with her then 2-year old daughter, Academy Award winner Geena Davis began to notice what she thought to be a remarkable imbalance in the ratio of male to female characters. From that small starting point, Davis went on to sponsor the largest research project ever undertaken on gender in children's entertainment* (resulting in 4 discreet studies, including one on children's television).

The research showed that in the top-grossing G-rated films from 1990-2005, there were three male characters for every one female – a statistic that did not improve over time. The concern was clear: what message does this send to young children?

That research sparked the launch of The Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media (GDIGM). The Institute's first focus is an on-the ground program that works collaboratively with the entertainment industry to dramatically increase the presence of female characters in media aimed at children and to reduce stereotyping of both males and females.

Davis says, "Girls need to see – from the beginning -- that our culture values them as much as boys. The absence of girls in kids' entertainment affects kids, to feel just that much less valuable as a girl, and that much less valuing of girls as a boy."

January sees the launch of what will be become an annual event: the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media Conference. Day One is the invitation-only GDIGM Executives & Producers Luncheon and Forum for 130 top executives and producers in children's TV and film, to introduce to that community landmark research and to offer them a sneak preview of the latest findings. The second day is the GDIGM Open Forum at USC's Town & Gown Ballroom, a daylong forum on media, children and gender. Open to the public, the focused invitees include content-creators, film schools, critics, communications professionals, guilds, film and TV societies, nonprofits and students.

For more information about the institute visit thegeenadavisinstitute.org

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