Disney is changing its corporate culture to make sure that ethnicity, gender and sexual orientation are considered at every level of the decision-making process.
NBA All-Star Stephen Curry is a staunch advocate for equal rights for women. The basketball champion and father of two daughters has even gone as far as to write an…
Arbitrary or not — they still disproportionately hurt girls.
Halloween is nearly upon us again. And for the parents of little girls, the holiday can pose a dilemma. When choosing a costume, boys are told they can be anything…
After the amazing first trailer for the movie dropped last week, some broflakes were triggered that Brie Larson portrayed the titular hero as a military veteran and genuine badass rather…
by Damian Alexander Guest Contributor Damian Alexander is a writer & cartoonist from Boston, Massachusetts. He is is a 2018 graduate of Simmons College MFA program in Writing for Children, as well…
The Wonder Woman star is the second-ever recipient of the #SeeHer Award.
After inexplicably failing to get a single nomination at the Golden Globes, it was beginning to feel like the industry was going to ignore the groundbreaking Wonder Woman, and the women who brought her to life. All that changed last Thursday when Wonder Woman took home the Critics’ Choice Award for “Best Action Movie,” and star Gal Gadot was awarded the second ever #SeeHer Award.
From the Critics Choice Awards website:
The #SeeHer Award recognizes a woman who embodies the values set forth by the #SeeHer movement — to push boundaries on changing stereotypes and recognize the importance of accurately portraying women across the entertainment landscape. Gadot broke through this year as a powerful voice advocating for women, not only on screen as the iconic Wonder Woman, but in life as well, using her platform to encourage those in the entertainment industry and beyond to strive for fairness and parity across genders.
Gadot was presented the award by Wonder Woman director Patty Jenkins, and talked about what the character of Wonder Woman meant to her. She ended by promising to stand up and never be silent on behalf of those who can’t stand or speak for themselves.
Sounds like a superhero to me.
Throughout my career, I was always asked to describe my dream role. And it was clear to me that I wanted to portray a strong and independent woman—a real one. The irony in this is that later, I was cast as Wonder Woman, and all of these qualities I looked for, I found in her. She’s full of heart, strength, compassion, and forgiveness. She sees wrong that must be made right; she takes action when everyone around her is idle. She commands the attention of the world. And in doing so, she sets a positive example for humanity.
Wonder Woman also struggles with her own love and hopes, she gets confused, insecure, and she’s not perfect. And that’s what makes her real. We wanted her to be universal, to be an inspiration to all people all around the world, and our plan was to make sure we didn’t give too much attention to the fact that she’s a woman.
The whole process of creating this film inspired me, and I hope we managed to inspire others. Now, when I started acting, there were very few female-led movies, and even fewer female directors. This year, three of the top-grossing films were female-led, and one of them was directed by my wonderful Patty Jenkins. There were eight other films in [the] top 100 which were directed by females. So although this is progress, there is still a long way to go.
Patty just shared an anecdote with me. And she said someone told her that his three-year-old saw the movie, and when the movie ended, the boy said, “When I grow up, I want to be a woman!” So as artists, and as filmmakers, I believe it’s not only our job to entertain, but our duty to inspire and educate for love and respect.
In the past weeks and months, we’ve been witnessing a movement in our industry and society, and I want to share this award with all the women and men who stand for what’s right: Standing for those who can’t stand or speak for themselves. My promise and commitment to all of you is that I will never be silenced, and we will continue: band together to make strides, uniting for equality.
The PSA tells children (and their parents) that it is OK to dress as anyone you want for Halloween, but the twist at the end has social media buzzing.
The two-minute PSA is simply titled “My Heroes.” It shows a family celebrating Halloween together. They buy costumes for their little boy and girl: Batman and Wonder Woman; carve Jack-o-Lanterns and excitedly speculate about the candy they will get.
Although they are having a good time, obvious expressions of concern and worry show on the parents faces when the kids aren’t looking. After a night of trick or treating, both kids are in candy-and-television induced comas. The mom and dad each grab a kid and tuck them into bed.
It is only as the camera pulls away that we realize that after they put on their costumes, we never saw the kids’ faces. It was the boy who was Wonder Woman, and the girl had chosen Batman.
The video ends as the dad looks back on his sleeping children and whispers, “My heroes,” before turning off the lights.
This 2-minute digital PSA was written by Alexander Day and Brian Carufe, directed by Almog Avidan Antonir, and produced by the team at Landwirth Legacy Productions, as means to challenge gender stereotypes when it comes to children’s Halloween costumes
Landwirth Legacy Productions aims to create entertaining and educational visual content and stories that seek to enrich, empower, and inspire audiences. Compassion is at the root of every project and relationship that Landwirth Legacy cultivates.
Worldwide study shows we tell girls they are not as strong as boys and that their body is their most important asset.
From the United States to the Democratic Republic of Congo, girls around the world are taught that they are weak, vulnerable and that their bodies and physical appearance are their most important asset, according to It Begins at Ten: How Gender Expectations Shape Early Adolescence Around the World, a new report by the Global Early Adolescent Study (GEAS). GEAS is an ongoing collaboration between John Hopkins University and the World Health Organization.
“We found children at a very early age—from the most conservative to the most liberal societies—quickly internalize this myth that girls are vulnerable and boys are strong and independent,” said Robert Blum, director of the Global Early Adolescent Study based at Johns Hopkins University. “And this message is being constantly reinforced at almost every turn, by siblings, classmates, teachers, parents, guardians, relatives, clergy and coaches.”
For example, the researchers found boys in both New Delhi and Shanghai talked about being encouraged to spend time outside of the home in unsupervised exploration of their environment, while girls said they were advised to stay home and do chores. Shaming and beatings for those who sought to cross the divide was reported by girls and boys in both cities.
In every city but one, (Edinburgh, Scotland) both boys and girls were certain that it was boys who must take the initiative in starting a relationship, and that girls’ role was to look pretty to attract their attention. This focus on physical appearance and body was consistent across all cultures, even if it expressed itself in different ways.
“In New Delhi, the girls talked about their bodies as a big risk that needs to be covered up, while in Baltimore girls told us their primary asset was their bodies and that they need to look appealing—but not too appealing,” Kristin Mmari, DrPH, associate professor and lead researcher for the qualitative research at GEAS said.
Boys were also portrayed as “predators” in all cultures. Girls were instructed to avoid spending time with boys. These rules are enforced, through societal pressure, shaming and even physical coercion.
Under the guise of protecting them, girls find their freedom greatly curtailed. Every society has rules on how girls should behave in order to protect them from “predatory males.” “Don’t sit like that.” “Don’t dress that way.” “Cover your hair.”They were often not allowed to play outside or take trips on their own. This reinforces the narrative that girls are vulnerable while boys are strong and “independent” and denies girls the opportunity to explore the world around them.
The full study is available on the Internet.
Women don’t play sports and belong in the kitchen, according to sophisticated learning machines.
In a study that has a number of disturbing implications, researchers found that computers become sexist when exposed to too much of our media. University of Virginia computer science professor Vicente Ordóñez noticed a pattern in how the image-recognition software he had developed interpreted photos. “It would see a picture of a kitchen and more often than not associate it with women, not men,” he told Wired.
That made Ordóñez wonder if researchers were injecting their own biases into the computer’s thought processes. So he found some collaborators and decided to test industry standard the photosets provided by Microsoft and Facebook to “train” image-recognition software.
They found that both data sets reinforced gender stereotypes in their depiction of activities such as cooking and sports. Pictures of shopping and washing were correlated to women, for example, while coaching and shooting were linked to men.
More worrying, image-recognition software trained with these datasets did not just reflect those biases — they magnified them. If a photo set associated women with cleaning, software trained with that photo set created an even stronger link between women and cleaning.
For instance, the research paper shows a photo of a man at a stove that image-recognition software consistently labelled as “woman.”
As these types of intelligent machine-learning programs are getting ready to explode in number and in importance. If we can’t get a handle on how to combat this problem, they could magnify the worst stereotypes society has about race and gender.
This is already happening. In 2015, Google’s automated photo service embarrassingly tagged black people as “gorillas.”
As learning computers become more sophisticated, this problem could have dramatic real-world consequences. Mark Yatskar, a a researcher at the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence, imagines a personal assistant robot in the future that is trying to guess what a human is doing in the kitchen. It might give a man a beer while offering to help a woman clean.
Last year, researchers from Boston University and Microsoft demonstrated that software that learned from text provided by Google News had acquired sexist biases as well. When asked complete the statement “Man is to computer programmer as woman is to X,” it replied, “homemaker.”
Eric Horvitz, director of Microsoft Research, notes that the materials we give to children often reflect an idealized world — where men and women are equally likely to be firefighters or homemakers. He suggests that a similar approach might be necessary for learning machines. “It’s a really important question–when should we change reality to make our systems perform in an aspirational way?” he asked..
Other experts worry that providing a distorted version of reality to computers will hamper their effectiveness because the data no longer reflects the real world. Aylin Caliskan, a researcher at Princeton, says it’s important for the computer to know that there are more male construction workers in the world so that it can analyze data more effectively. She recommends identifying and correcting bias afterwards rather than providing “bad data” to the machines at the outset.. “We risk losing essential information,” she says. “The datasets need to reflect the real statistics in the world.”
There may not be a clear-cut answer, but it is clear that the issue needs to be addressed before these types of learning systems become even more prevalent.
One final thought. If these stereotypes are present in media that is suppose to be curated against racial and gender biases and computers pick up on them and amplify them — what do you suppose is happening to our most important “learning machines” — the brains of our children — when they are constantly exposed to the unfiltered text and imagery that makes up much of modern society?