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Google Global Impact Awards Grants Geena Davis Institute $1.2 Million to Study Gender in Media


Google uses its Global Impact Awards to award grants to small institutions for whom a mere $1.2 million (“mere” when you compare it to the full extent of Google’s wallet) is a huge impact, and places that are also unafraid to “fail fast or challenge the status quo, and have what [they'd] like to call ‘a healthy disregard for the impossible.” So it both makes sense and is pretty cool that Google would choose to give $1.2 million to the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media and access to their engineers in order to craft experimental software that can analyze gender representation from raw television footage.

The GDIGM’s last study, reasearched manually on 129 family films, 275 primetime television shows, and 36 kids shows featuring nearly 12k speaking characters, yielded pretty significant results. Like that only 28% of speaking roles in the films had gone to female characters, or that representation of women in science in fictional media is even worse than it is in real life. If the Institute was able to create software that could use voice recognition to accurately analyze speaking roles, it would free their research partners to do more analysis instead of data collection. It might even be possible to have analytics available the day after an evening of primetime shows air, much like the turnaround of Nielson ratings.

Whether the technology can effectively achieve those goals is yet to be determined: creating the software will be at least as experimental as it is practical. But, as Google’s guidelines for its Global Impact Awards state (or at least they would if they were said through one female character in a kids’ show that comes to mind) taking chances, making mistakes, and getting messy is the name of the game.

(via Wired.)

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  • http://twitter.com/ChannelDiza Chanel Diaz

    This is really NEEDED. How annoying combating sexism is when you have to go to the ends of the Earth and Back, just to FIND the Evidence of where the Sexism Occurred.

    It’s mind breaking enough just to go through with sexism, but when you have to play the part of both the Witness AND the Victim, only to be dismissed by the ultimate ‘rational’ argument dismisser of “PROOF NOW OR GTFO!”

    But, as great as this sounds, I wonder how they will be able to do this because female actors oftentimes play boy characters. It also doesn’t help when the male or female characters sound like the opposite gender (or when the female character is even played by a male actor), too.

    Elizabeth Daily & Tara Strong, come to mind.