The Geena Benchmark Report: 2007 - 2017
Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media
The purpose of this study is to establish benchmark measures for the percentage of
protagonists who are women, people of color, LGBTQIA, and people with disabilities in
family films so that we can quantify progress over time.
• Male leads outnumber female leads TWO-TO-ONE although this has improved slightly in the last decade
• Family films with female leads closed the gap in domestic box office revenue over the past decade and now earn more than family films with male leads
• When it comes to race, white leads outnumber leads of color FOUR-TO-ONE
• Box office revenue for family films with leads of color and racially diverse co-leading casts have caught up with and surpassed family films with white leads
• FEWER THAN 1% of family films feature a LGBTQIA lead, and we have seen no progress in the past decade
• FEWER THAN 1% of family films feature a lead with a disability, and this has not improved in the past decade
This report examines media representations of gender, race, LGBTQIA, and ability in family films from the past decade. More specifically, we analyze the identity of leads in the top grossing family films form 2007 to 2017 to see whether Hollywood content creators have made progress when it comes to telling stories of traditionally marginalized groups. This study is the first to take a long-term view of the main characters in family films. Our four benchmark measures – the percentage of leading characters who are women, people of color, LGBTQIA, and people with disabilities – provide a straightforward way to quantify whether progress has occurred over time.
This study is important because the stories that we tell in entertainment media send a clear message about who matters most in our culture. When the lions share of the stories we tell revolve around the lives of straight, white men without disabilities, children learn that people of marginalized identities simply matter less in our culture.
We analyzed the top 100 grossing animated and non-animated family films (rated G, PG, PG-13) from 2007 through 2017, as reported by Variety. We selected the top grossing family films in order to examine the movie content viewed the most by young children, tweens, and teens in the U.S.
We conducted a content analysis, which entails systematic observation of characters and images. We classified character prominence based on their role as leads or co-leads. Leading characters drive the unfolding story line, while co-leading characters drive the unfolding story line together and share roughly equal screen time. We analyzed 1,115 leading and co-leading characters, which we refer to as just “leads” throughout this report.
In addition to measuring character prominence, we identified our primary measures of interest: characters’ gender, race, sexual orientation, and ability. Race/ethnicity was determined from skin
color, maxillofacial features, and context markers within the film (e.g., the race of the character’s family). Sexuality is defined as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer/questioning, intersex, and asexual (LGBTQIA). People with a disability were coded using cues about the character’s physical and cognitive abilities.
Access the full report by clicking the image below.