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$1,000,000 to make LA the best place to learn, create, play, connect, and live.

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If She Can See It, She Can Be It: Empowering Girls & Creating a Gender-Balanced Media Landscape

Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media at Mount Saint Mary’s University

About Your Proposal

In one sentence, please describe what your organization does.

The Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media is the only research-based organization working from within the entertainment industry to improve gender balance in media and empower women and girls.

In one to three sentences, please describe your project proposal.

The Institute’s quarterly See Jane Salon Series engages industry professionals and corporate influencers in discussions on achieving gender equity in media. This project will expand and enhance the 2017 series with scholarships for 50 girls, ages 13-18, from across LA to join the conversation and connect with mentors in the industry. The program will empower girls around issues of gender in media, foster future female entertainment leaders, and help create a more gender-balanced media landscape.

How much are you applying for?

$25,000

How will your proposal impact the following CREATE metrics?

  • Arts establishments
  • Employment in the creative industries
  • Minority- and women-owned firms

In what areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?

County of Los Angeles (please select only if your project has a countywide benefit)

Describe in greater detail how your proposal will make LA the best place to CREATE?

In LA County, the entertainment industry creates approximately 239,000 jobs yielding over $20 billion in labor income annually. However, for women in the industry, opportunities continue to be limited.

The Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media (GDIGM) has conducted over 25 research studies on gender in media demonstrating that women are severely underrepresented in the field. In a recent study conducted with Google and USC’s Viterbi School of Engineering, the Institute found that only 17% of the top grossing films of 2015 featured female leads. USC’s Media, Diversity and Social Change Initiative found that only 31.4% of speaking characters in the top films of 2015 were female—and only 7% of those films’ directors were women. Additionally, women made up just 11% of the writers, 23% of the producers, and 5% of cinematographers in the top films of 2014 (Center for the Study of Women & Film at San Diego State University).

GDIGM strives to make LA the best place to CREATE by increasing opportunities for women in the entertainment industry both on and off screen. Through research, education, and advocacy, it works to ensure that women have equitable access to employment opportunities within the industry—and that their voices are heard and their stories are featured.

And it’s working: 68% of entertainment industry executives familiar with the Institute’s research have changed two or more projects to include more female characters that speak and have jobs and ambitions. GDIGM has influenced change in major feature films including Pixar’s Monster’s University, Sony’s Hotel Transylvania, and The Little Prince.

The Institute’s See Jane Salons are a key piece of this effort. Quarterly, they convene industry professionals and content creators to tackle topics critical to creating a gender-balanced media landscape. Recent salons have featured Victoria Alonso (Marvel), Nina Tassler (CBS), Gabrielle Carteris (SAG-AFTRA), Alex Cohen (KPCC), Wendy Calhoun (producer), Famke Janssen (actor), and Yara Shahidi (actor) in conversation on topics such as developing scripts with great roles for women, expanding the concept of diversity in Hollywood, and the portrayal of disability on screen.

With support from LA2050, the Institute will enhance its 2017 salons, introducing 50 scholarships for young women ages 13-18 from throughout LA to participate in the program. The project will also leverage the Institute’s many industry partners, such as Google, CBS, and YouTube, among others, by providing scholarship recipients with access to their complementary women’s leadership programs, including select seminars and mentoring and internship opportunities. This initiative will empower girls around issues of gender equality in media and inspire their participation in the field, enriching the Institute’s efforts to create more opportunities for female employment in the industry, as well as female-led projects, businesses, and arts establishments.

Please explain how you will define and measure success for your project.

GDIGM aims to:
1) Provide scholarships for 50 girls to attend its quarterly salon series
2) Educate and empower the scholarship recipients around issues of gender in media
3) Inspire the recipients to pursue jobs in the entertainment industry and to lead their own creative endeavors, businesses, and arts establishments

It will measure the success of the program based on:
- Total number of scholarship recipients
- Total number of industry partner mentorship opportunities offered
- Percent of recipients who report gaining knowledge about issues of gender equality in media
- Percent of recipients interested in pursuing a career in the industry
- Number of recipients who go on to attain internships and jobs in the industry
- Number of recipients who go on to lead their own creative endeavors, businesses, and arts establishments

The Institute will survey scholarship recipients before and after the program, and will conduct a follow-up survey two and five years after the program ends.

In 2017, the Institute also plans to survey leading entertainment companies to illustrate specific examples of how the Institute’s work has influenced a more gender-balanced media landscape in LA. This will include assessing changes in the number of females employed in the creative industries and the number of minority and women-owned arts businesses and arts establishments.

How can the LA2050 community and other stakeholders help your proposal succeed?

  • Money
  • Volunteers
  • Publicity/awareness
  • Community outreach
  • Network/relationship support