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New Technology Helps to Uncover Gender Disparity in Film 

The Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media has teamed up with Google machine learning engineer Hartwig Adam, USC’s Viterbi School of Engineering’s Dr. Shri Narayanan, the Niki & C. L. Max Nikias Chair in Engineering, and his SAIL Laboratory, to create the Geena Davis Inclusion Quotient (GD-IQ), to create a new software that can measure how long we see and hear women on screen. The GD-IQ scans a film in real time, distinguishing the gender of every person on screen and measures to a fraction of a second how long each person spoke and how long they were on screen for, and then separate this information based on gender. Furthermore, the GD-IQ utilizes the emerging form of programing known as “machine learning,” in which the software learns to perform this action with ever increasing precision over time, in order to insure the precision of the research the software produces.

The team behind the GD-IQ has already begun using the technology to research gender disparity on the silver screen by analyzing the 100 highest grossing (US domestic) live-action films from 2014, 2015, and 2016. Major findings of this study include that men are seen and heard nearly twice as often as women, with women averaging 36% of time on screen and 35% of speaking time in a film. Additionally, the only genre in which women are present on screen more than men is the horror genre (in which they are shown 53% of the films run time, though they speak only 47% of the films lines), with all other genres yielding results that show women are neither shown nor speak more than their male counterparts. It also found that women are underrepresented across all ratings categories, with women being present in 42% of PG films, 36% of PG-13 films, and 34% of R rated films. The GD-IQ also found that women are barely seen in Academy award winning films, with women making up only 32% of screen time and 27% of speaking time.

While these findings do highlight the gender disparity currently present in many films, the GD-IQ findings have been imperative in the push for gender equality and better representation of women in film. Following the accumulation of this data The Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media has presented their findings to producers, executives, screenwriters, and actors, and a survey that followed a presentation of GD-IQ findings found that 68% of filmmakers reconfigured two or more of their projects after hearing the numbers, and 41% percent stated that it had impacted four or more of their movies. As Geena Davis aptly stated in regards to the potential change that the GD-IQ can bring to the film industry and the push for better female representation, “It has been proven to us that data is the most incredibly powerful tool for uncovering unconscious bias, and for convincing people that it’s there, and you can do something about it.”

To read the full study, click here.

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NYWIFT programs, screenings and events are supported, in part, by grants from New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, and New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.

New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, and New York State Council on the Arts