Gender Equality on Screen

Girls and Boys – Towards Gender Equality on Screen

Kristen Souvlis and Nadine Bates, Co-Founders of Like a Photon Creative (LAPC) are passionate about ensuring equal gender representation in children’s on screen programs. LAPC is a fast growing creative company specialising children’s screen content. They spoke to us about how they are challenging existing stereotypes in the children’s programming LAPC creates.

Little girls. It’s a loaded term.

When we hear the words, we think of delicate, tender creatures, playing house, dressing dolls and wearing pink.

It’s a sweet, widely held image, but if we’re ever going to empower women in the workforce, any workforce, it’s got to change. Let’s consider for a moment how we think about:

The term little boys, which immediately conjures images of adventure, dirt, noise, exploring and more noise…with dirt on it. (I say this lovingly, as the mother of two boys).

It’s their voracity and uninhibited capacity to try that encapsulates their early childhood representation. Sure, some of the time it’s trying things like eating grubs and jumping off unsteady platforms into homemade safety nets, but still. They try things and are constantly rewarded for it.

This is fundamentally where we need to encourage and empower little girls. In the base act of simply trying. 

Studies have shown that little girls grow up to be women who are significantly less likely to try for jobs than their male counterparts, even when regularly, these male counterparts were far less qualified for the positions in question.

In the research done by Hewlett Packard, women would not apply for a job unless they felt like they had 100% of the required criteria for the position, whereas males tended to see themselves as a strong candidate if they possessed only 60% of those same criteria.

This begs the question: how do we make young girls try?

Apart from the obvious solutions of support from parents, inclusive school systems etc, the next most fundamental responsibility we have is to normalise images of young girls not only trying, but also succeeding in diverse roles. Aspirations and representation.

This is where Like a Photon Creative comes in. In every piece of content that we create, every television series, every segment, every digital offering, we ensure first and foremost that there are AT LEAST 50% representation of girls on screen.

It still sounds ridiculous when I write that sentence. Like something as basic as equal roles for boys and girls on screen is somehow revolutionary or rebellious. But the cold truth is that is EXACTLY what it is.

Young audiences are exposed to an average gender ratio of 1:4 onscreen

That’s FOUR boy characters to every ONE female character.

The effect of this is insidious and deeply impactful. If you can’t SEE your gender in the stories that you love, then you can’t see your gender try or succeed . That right there is the problem. Young girls still don’t have the road maps that show them the way.

We’d like to think that we’re helping just a little bit. By putting more and more female characters of diverse backgrounds, ethnicities, and personalities on screen- we’re actively giving young audiences a taste of what might be. What they might be . 

LAPC was formed in 2012 by Kristen Souvlis and Nadine Bates and is based in Queensland, Australia. With over 20 years combined experience in children’s television, publishing and digital entertainment, Kristen and Nadine are both passionate about creating forward thinking, ethical products and platforms for children all over the world. In 2014, LAPC became the second Australian company to produce for Sesame Street USA and the first female Australian writer and producers for the channel. Sesame Street USA have now requested for another segment to begin production late 2016. The beginning of 2017 will see the release of Balloon Barnyard, the hit animation series commissioned by Disney Australia.

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Posted by Jade Collins - Femeconomy Founder

Mother, wife, daughter, determined dreamer. Lover of books. Background in Human Resources leadership in global organisations.