Gender Stereotypes and Entrepreneurship

Last month at our annual conference in Atlanta, Geena Davis shed light on the drastic under representation of women in the media and other spheres of influence within society. Her research found that while females made up 50 percent of the population, and the current workforce, only 19.5 percent of characters in G-rated movies from 2006-2009 were female. Of this small group of female characters, many fell into unfair stereotypes or were overly sexualized. She also noted that women pervasively make up 17 percent of the represented population in a number of areas including congress, film narration, and crowd scenes. If media, the voice of society, under represents women while promoting false stereotypes, what does that mean for you?

An international study examining the role that gender stereotypes play in the perceptions of male and female entrepreneurs, offers some insights. Researchers “found that entrepreneurship is typically seen as a masculine field; both men and women see entrepreneurship as a male-typed occupation.” This perception deters women from entrepreneurship “because resource providers (e.g., lenders, suppliers, customers) and men in their lives (their partner, husband, father, and/or sons) do not associate entrepreneurship with feminine characteristics and, consequently may not support them in starting their own business.” Despite these hurdles, there were 8.1 million women-owned firms (13.1 million with the inclusion of equally-owned firms), a 50 percent increase since 1997, according to American Express OPEN.

The success of WPO members should not just be measured in revenues. These outstanding women have succeeded despite constricting financial and social limitations. Their success serves as a testament of just how wrong stereotypes can be and why organizations such as Geena’s are so important for future generations of women and girls.

Geena Davis: Changing Gender Stereotypes in the Media

We’re excited to announce that Geena Davis will deliver a keynote address at 1pm on Thursday April 26 at the WPO’s 15th Annual Conference in Atlanta. Her address, A Conversation with Geena Davis, will shed light on the need to change gender stereotypes in the media.

The widely respected actor, known for her award-winning performances in films such as Thelma & Louise and The Accidental Tourist, has long been an ardent supporter of women. Her organization, the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, works within the entertainment industry to dramatically alter how girls and women are reflected in media. After noticing the severe lack of female characters in children’s entertainment, she commissioned the largest ever research project on gender in film and television which revealed that there is only one female character for every three male characters in family films. In an effort to combat the gender-biased media landscape, her organization employs a three tiered approach through research, education, and advocacy.

The Academy Award winning actor is also a world-class athlete (at one time the nation’s 13th-ranked archer), a member of the genius society Mensa, and is an official partner of UN Women.