The Importance Of Female Superheroes And The TedWomen Conference
A New Study Shows That Seeing Female Superheros On Screen Increases the Confidence and Aspirations of Young Girls
By Julia Carroll, Marin Yearley, and Natasha Gilman
A new study conducted by the Women’s Media Center in conjunction with BBC America found that girls are more likely to gain confidence and see themselves in leadership roles when they watch women playing superheros in movies and on television shows. The power of characters represented in movies and TV shows will inevitably reflect on young girls’ attitudes towards themselves and the gender stereotypes around them. The study, called “Superpowering girls,” revealed that boys’ confidence levels are higher than girls which could largely be due to the array of male role models portrayed in movies, TV shows, and other media. However, the findings reveal that if young girls had more similar role models to look up to, they could become more empowered and gain confidence.
In many forms of media, women are rarely portrayed with the same admirable qualities as the male characters. For example, the majority of superheroes are men and the few that are women are usually associated with romantic roles in the film instead of heroic ones. Young girls aged 15 to 19 in the study were less likely to think of themselves as “confident” or “brave” compared to their male counterparts, but powerful representations of women in society will help girls believe they can achieve anything they put their mind to. Gal Gadot in the movie Wonder Woman serves as a strong role model who can help young girls see themself as strong as well. Although there are a few female characters who girls can look up to, there are not enough to cause widespread change of the way girls view themselves. Instead of being independent, often times women are portrayed as sidekicks or partners in movies starring powerful men. There needs to be more shows and movies that show women independently succeeding.
In addition, women are often praised or looked up to based on their looks instead of their merit. As a result, women are depicted as perfect looking which can create unrealistic body standards for girls. These expectations and representations of women negatively impact young girls’ self images and can deteriorate confidence rather then build it.
Although many females have begun to be represented in stronger roles, parents and kids still say they need more representation as leaders to help girls become leaders in society.
Sarah Barnett, the President of BBC America states, “If you can’t see her, you can’t be her. It’s time to expand what gets seen.” Barnett is giving voice to the need for female representation across the country. If young girls see something in the media or on a screen it will reflect on them and they will view that as something they should be. If there is no evidence of powerful women or girls in leadership roles in the media, there is nothing positive for girls to reflect.
Studies show that girls age 10-19 claim they don’t see enough female empowerment in shows and movies, unlike men who get their fair share. It is particularly heartbreaking to see that such young women feel they are being portrayed as less than men because of stereotypical ideas that are put out to the public. Everyone should have a chance to feel confident, express their true potential, and feel equal to those around them.
The power of screens and female representation gives a strong base for goals of young girls to be inspired to take action and become leaders. When watching shows or movies, if little girls see themselves in powerful roles, they will aspire to be like them and work towards setting goals. Kids easily categorize themselves into stereotypical roles in society, based on what they are introduced to when they are young.
The TEDWomen Conference
By Ryan Hammel
The TEDWomen conference this year will occur from Wednesday, November 28 to Friday, November 30 at La Quinta Resort, 20 miles outside of Palm Springs, California.
Women everywhere have been fighting for equal rights, striving to no longer accept the status quo. Especially with the #MeToo movement, women have been rising to speak out to provoke change. Despite what these women are focusing on in their careers and this movement, they are coming together for this conference in order to share their stories and make a change, together.
Each day has a different focus. Wednesday (November 28th) will be an introduction in order for the women attending to build relationships and attend workshops. On Thursday (November 29th), the second day, four inspiring speakers will take the podium for engaging presentations. Friday (November 30th) is the wrap-up day, with a final guest speaker and several activities.
The influential women are attending to listen, communicate, encourage each other, influence, and build strong networks to drive significant shifts in our current community and across the globe.
For more information on the list of speakers and events, check out the link below.