Actress Geena Davis: There’s ‘Gender Inequality in Every Segment of Society'

Lauretta Brown | November 18, 2015 | 8:52am EST
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Actress Geena Davis (AP File Photo)

( – Actress Geena Davis told Tuesday that women face “gender inequality in every segment of society.” She blamed “unconscious gender bias” in television and movies, which have a “terrific gender imbalance.”

Davis was on Capitol Hill testifying at a House Foreign Affairs Committee Hearing on Women’s Access to Technology in Developing Countries. She spoke about her effort to identify gender disparity in films and television through the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media. asked Davis what she thought were the top three issues or obstacles women are facing in today’s society. Davis said she thought there was “just one problem that women are facing,” which is “gender inequality in every segment of society.”

“I think there’s just one problem that that women are facing, that our society is facing, and that’s this gender inequality in every segment of society -- if you look at -- whether you look at academia, law, business, politics, the media, there’s a tremendous gap in particularly women in leadership positions,” Davis said.

“I think most people are aware of problems but not the full extent and how long it would take to fix it,” Davis said. “New York Times magazine found out that, figured out, a while back that if we add women to Congress at the rate we have been, we’ll reach parity in 500 years, so clearly something dramatic has to happen, and it’s the perception of women that has to change.”       

Davis said she didn’t “know what to say” about the acceptance of the transgender movement in Hollywood and how that affects her push for a larger female presence in movies and TV. asked Davis if she could “speak to the more fluid perception of gender in Hollywood with the advent of Caitlyn Jenner and how that affects the push for greater female presence in films and TV?”

“Let’s see,” Davis said after a long pause, “I don’t know if I have a good answer for that question.”

“I was just kind of looking for your thoughts on that on the more fluid gender idea,” followed up.

“I don’t know what to say,” Davis repeated. also asked Davis what she meant by the term “unconscious gender bias” that she used in her testimony and where unconscious gender bias comes from.

“Unconscious gender bias can be found even in people who say, 'Oh, I have no bias against women. I think women are equal in every possible way,'” Davis replied.

“It’s something that pretty much everyone has, and my contention is that a lot of it is created through what media kids are exposed to in the very beginning,” Davis explained.

“There are even preschool shows -- not all of them, but some can have terrific gender imbalance, there’s hyper-sexualization of female characters even in G-rated movies, which are aimed at the littlest kids; and so when there’s something insidious like that that, we’re not aware of that. We think we’ve overcome, but yet there’s still evidence for it, it’s very difficult to work on,” she added.

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