geena davis gender gap moviesJason Merritt/Getty Images

It's no secret that Hollywood has a problem with women, as evidenced by the Huffington Post's report that only six of the 50 highest-grossing films of 2013 featured a female lead character. In a new op-ed for The Hollywood Reporter, Academy Award-winning actress Geena Davis offers some potential solutions to that problem.

Davis, who founded an eponymous Institute on Gender in Media in 2004, explained that her interest in the growing Hollywood gender gap came about after starring in female-centric films like "Thelma & Louise" and "A League of Their Own," where she "developed a heightened awareness of how women are portrayed in media." Focused specifically on the types of characters that were being created for entertainment aimed at children, Davis commissioned a study through the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism that produced some startling results.

"The basics are that for every one female-speaking character in family-rated films (G, PG and PG-13), there are roughly three male characters; that crowd and group scenes in these films -- live-action and animated -- contain only 17 percent female characters; and that the ratio of male-female characters has been exactly the same since 1946," Davis wrote. " ... [W]e are in effect enculturating kids from the very beginning to see women and girls as not taking up half of the space."

But there are two easy fixes to this issue, Davis said, and they begin with screenwriters. First, Davis said, writers can take existing scripts and simply switch out male names for female names. The next step is to specifically describe crowds as being half female, ensuring that the ratio is balanced from the beginning. These fixes can dramatically change young girls' view of society and themselves, Davis said.

"In the time it takes to make a movie or create a television show, we can change what the future looks like," she wrote.

The entire piece is worth a read. Check it out at The Hollywood Reporter.
categories Movies