February 16, 2011 by Ilene H. Lang
You can’t be what you can’t see.
That’s the takeaway message of a new documentary, Miss Representation, which premiered on Saturday in New York City. Featuring interviews with an array of female leaders—including Condoleezza Rice, Katie Couric, Rachel Maddow, and Jane Fonda, among others—the film explores how one-dimensional, hypersexualized images of women in mainstream media reinforce negative gender stereotypes and deprive girls of inspiring role models.
Media is all-pervasive in the lives of young people. In the United States, 8-18 year-olds devote an average of 7 hours and 38 minutes to entertainment media across a typical day. That’s more than 53 hours a week!
This stat got me thinking about how depictions of female business leaders in movies and television shows can impact young minds. The stereotypical female boss is manipulative and cold—a sexist caricature that doesn’t reflect reality. If women were portrayed as the smart, creative and visionary leaders they really are, I think more girls would aspire toward leadership and fewer men would fear women in their ranks.
So how do we get there?
Skip sexist content and support the films, television programs, magazines and websites that project positive images of women. See the change you want to see.