The New York Times: How Sexist Is Hollywood? Check Out Geena Davis’s Spreadsheet

When it comes to quantifying bias in popular entertainment, the Academy Award winner’s in a league of her own.

By Chris Colin

Of course the Academy Award-winning actress ditched that pliability long ago. From “Thelma & Louise” and “A League of Their Own” to this year’s coming-of-age drama, “Fairyland,” back-seat docility just wasn’t an option. Indeed, self-possession was her thing. (Or one of her things. Few profiles have failed to mention her Mensa membership, her fluency in Swedish or her Olympic-caliber archery prowess.) But cultivating her own audaciousness was only Phase 1.

Next year will mark two decades since the creation of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media. When her daughter was a toddler, Ms. Davis couldn’t help noticing that male characters vastly outnumbered female characters in children’s TV and movies.

“I knew everything is completely imbalanced in the world,” she said recently. But this was the realm of make-believe; why shouldn’t it be 50/50?

It wasn’t just the numbers. How the women were represented, their aspirations, the way young girls were sexualized: Across children’s programming, Ms. Davis saw a bewilderingly warped vision of reality being beamed into impressionable minds. Long before “diversity, equity and inclusion” would enter the lexicon, she began mentioning this gender schism whenever she had an industry meeting.

“Everyone said, ‘No, no, no — it used to be like that, but it’s been fixed,’” she said. “I started to wonder, What if I got the data to prove that I’m right about this?”

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Photo Credit: Magdalena Wosinska for “The New York Times”