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Parenting media savvy kids: Counter pop culture gender stereotypes

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(Read caption) Only 28.3 percent of speaking characters in family films are female, found a new report by the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media. The princess stereotype – sometimes seen in Disney Princess movies – is popular among little girls like these dressed as Princess Tiana from 'The Princess and the Frog' at the Disney Princess Royal Court Crowning Event in New York, in March 2010.

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Next time you take the fam to the movies, give an extra close look at who on screen is doing the talking. Chances are, it’s not going to be the girl character.

In a new report by the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, researchers from the Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism at the University of Southern California found that only 28.3 percent of the speaking characters in family films (and 30.8 percent in children’s television shows) are female. Few stories are “gender-balanced,” or show females in 45.1 to 55 percent of all speaking rolls (11 percent of family films fit this category), while quite a few are very “male-centric.” (Fifty percent of family films and 39 percent of children's shows cast boys or men in 75 percent or more of the speaking roles.)

And it gets better.

Of those characters who do have speaking rolls, the ones shown working are typically male. (Females make up 20.3 percent of the total on-screen occupations in family films and represent 25.3 percent of those employed in children’s shows.) Prestigious jobs and STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) careers also go to the guys.

Meanwhile – surprise, surprise – the characters more likely to be shown as thin, dressed in tight or otherwise provocative clothing or with exposed skin are female. (Yup, even in family films.)

The message, researchers conclude, is that girls should learn to be cute, quiet, and unemployed.  Nice, right?


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