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J.Walter Thompson & Geena Davis shine a light on the importance of female role models

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As the Oscars and Hollywood continue to draw criticism for the lack of equal representation of gender and diversity, ground-breaking global research by the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media and J. Walter Thompson reveals that female role models in film and TV are hugely influential in driving women to improve their lives. The recent research finds that 90% of women globally feel that female role models in film or TV are important, with 61% admitting that female role models in film and TV have been influential in their lives and 58% believing that these roles models have inspired them to be more ambitious or assertive.

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The survey of 4,300 women in nine countries (Brazil, China, India Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Russia, Australia, the United Kingdom and the USS) also revealed that one-in-nine globally, rising to as high as one-in-four in Brazil, said that positive female role models had given them the courage to leave an abusive relationship. However, 53% of women globally think there is a lack of female role models in film and TV, 74% said they wished they had seen more female role models growing up and 80% said that women should have a louder voice when it comes to cultural influence.

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Previous research by the Institute found that the percentage of fictional women in the workforce is even lower than the one that exists in the real world. Of the female characters with a job, less than 25% of employed characters were female, while women make up 40% of the global workforce. Film depictions also fail to reflect the steady progress of female representation across professions. Despite women holding 24% of global political positions out of 127 characters holding political office in films, only 12 were female. In the legal sphere, male judges and lawyers outnumbered females 13 to 1, and in computer science and engineering, the ratio of men to women is 7.6 to 1.

Female Tribes Manifesto Film

The full research report will be available through the Geena Davis Institute in March. The findings form part of J. Walter Thompson’s Female Tribes project. Female Tribes is the agency's proprietary insight study about women around the world. A living study, conducted globally, which makes J. Walter Thompson the agency with the most insight, knowledge and research about the largest consumer category in the world.

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