Onscreen Female Bosses Four Times More Likely to Be Shown Naked Than Men, Report Claims

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Geena Davis

The study, conducted by the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media and Plan International, examined the 56 top-grossing films of 2018 across 20 countries.

Women in movies who have positions of leadership — be that presidents, CEOs or business owners — are too often being portrayed as sex objects, according to a new report.

In analyzing the 56 top-grossing films of 2018 across 20 countries, researchers from the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media and the humanitarian organization Plan International found that, of the characters in leadership positions, woman and girls were four times more likely than men to be shown in revealing clothing (30 percent compared to 7 percent), almost twice as likely to be shown partially nude (15 percent to 8 percent) and four times more likely to be shown completely naked (2 percent to 0.5 percent).

The report — titled "Rewrite her story: How film and media stereotypes affect the lives and leadership ambitions of girls and young women" — also found that women in leadership positions were more likely to be sexually objectified than men, with 15 percent having the camera focused on their body parts in slow motion, compared to four percent of men.

“The findings are not surprising when not one of the top 10 films in 20 countries in 2018 was directed by a woman, only a quarter of films had a woman producer and only one in 10 had a woman on the writing team,” said Plan International CEO Anne-Birgitte Albrectsen.

“A woman 007 or superhero in film is welcome. But our research shows they are exceptions and not the rule," she explained. "The bigger picture is that gender discrimination and harmful stereotypes still dominate on screen. This undermines girls and young women and has a negative impact on their aspirations to leadership in all walks of life.”

Davis, who through her research institute has spoken widely about female representation onscreen, added that film and media “powerfully influence” how the world views girls and how they view themselves.

“Girls need to see themselves reflected on screen and to see positive and authentic characters that can inspire them,” she said. “Content creators and storytellers in entertainment and media have an opportunity to support and influence the aspirations of girls and women and stop reinforcing damaging gender stereotypes.”