Report – Girl, Interrupted: A Deeper Dive into Gender Depiction
How is the industry changing it’s attitude to females in children’s media?
- Female representations in children’s media are beginning to improve
- Work is being done to break down gender stereotypes in books and TV shows
- Using humour is the best way to cross gender divides in programming.
- The industry would benefit from having a greater number of women in writing and technical roles
Changemaker Jo Summers, began the session by talking through video games that offer alternatives with female characters and a different type of play. Jo believes that games should be considered a creative medium for artistic expression.
A powerful clip from inspiringthefuture.org #redrawthebalance set the scene for the session itself, showing how children perceive gender in the professional world.
Linda Simensky then talked about the changes of girls’ roles in children’s TV. From older wiser sisters, to more ‘spunky’ characters. Now the focus is on making girl characters more interesting and complex. Dr Anna Potter discussed the reboot of Thunderbirds and how they have included females in professional roles alongside well-established male characters.
Genevieve Harr explained that one of the biggest challenges in publishing is getting boys from age 10 to read more. Publishers need to think about how reading can provide an immersive world to re-engage boys.
The Let Toys Be Toys campaign works on the presumption that ‘children have more in common than they have differences’. Megan outlined the Let Books Be Books campaign which changed gender specific labelling and the need to address the gender presumptions of books and focusing on diversity and inclusion. In advertising, products are presented with a clear gender bias and even tone of voiceover can reinforce stereotypes. Merchandise often follows this worrying trend.
A clip from the sitcom ‘So Awkward’ showed female protagonists with flaws and anxieties alongside their equally confused male friends and the panel agreed that comedy is the best way to cross gender divides.
Finally the panel discussed the need to redress balance in the creative roles in children’s media. Comedy writing is still male dominated and technical roles are predominantly held by men. There is positivity for the future but it is evident that more needs to be done.
The Gotham Group LLC
Head of Animation and Family Entertainment
Channel X/CBBC/ABC Australia
Creator / Writer on 'So Awkward'
Scholastic Children’s Books
Let Toys Be Toys
Dr Anna Potter
University of the Sunshine Coast, Qld, Australia
Australian Research Council Fellow and Snr Lecturer in Screen and Media Studies
Vice President, Children’s Programming
Curator & Producer