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New GRIID Study looks at Gender Representation in 2015 Films

September 13, 2016


In 2012, we conducted a study looking at gender representation in Hollywood films.  In that study we determined that the overwhelming majority of movies reflected a male-dominant cultural narrative, based, in part, on the actual numbers of leader characters and the content analysis.

Our most recent film study, Normalizing Male Dominance, did not reflect that Hollywood was improving much when it comes to gender representation. To read the entire study, click here.

What follows are some conclusions from the study.

  • Statistically, there was some minor improvement in the number of lead female characters in the 2015 film study compared to the 2012 film study.
  • Despite the increased female lead representation in the 2015 study, there are several films with lead female characters that do not challenge the dominant gender narratives – Sisters, Hot Pursuit, Cinderella, Fifty Shades of Grey, The War Room and The Age of Adaline.
  • There were several films with lead female characters that challenged the male-dominant narrative, such as Star Wars: The Force Awakens, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2, The Divergent Series: Insurgent, Avengers: Age of Ultron and Sicario. However, even in many of these films, which are disproportionately action oriented or fantasy based, the female lead characters are juxtaposed with dominant male lead characters.
  • There were several films where women’s bodies are hyper-sexualized and objectified, such as Get Hard, Fifty Shades of Grey, The Boy Next Door, Straight Outta Compton, The Wedding Ringer, Hot Pursuit, Vacation, Ted 2 and Sisters.
  • Films with male lead characters rarely challenge the male dominant narrative and present a cookie cutter version of masculinity, such as Avengers: Age of Ultron, Creed, San Andreas, Black Mass, Pixels, Sniper, Bridge of Spies, Sicario, The Night Before, Jurassic World, The Kingsman, Taken 3, The Gift, Ted 2, The Maze Runner, Southpaw, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Spectre, Mission Impossible 6, The Gift, Max, Furious 7, The Night Before and the Wedding Ringer.
  • There were films where men are presented as caring, sensitive and empathetic towards others, such as in Selma, The Imitation Game, The Martian, The Intern, McFarland USA and Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
  • As was the case in the previous film study, children’s films and animated films do challenge some gender norms provide more space to explore human in a less stereotypical fashion, with films such as Inside Out and Home.


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