How Geena Davis Tackles Gender Bias in Hollywood

“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.


It’s a dogged optimism that powers Ms. Davis’s activism — a faith that Hollywood can reform voluntarily. When she goes to a meeting now, she’s armed with her team’s latest research, and with conviction that improvement will follow.

“Our theory of change relies on the content creators to do good,” said Madeline Di Nonno, the president and the chief executive of the institute. “As Geena says, we never shame and blame. You have to pick your lane, and ours has always been, ‘We collaborate with you and want you to do better.’”

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