Larry Harnisch, of The Daily Mirror, sent in a link to a story at the NYT regarding study released by the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media about the under-representation of women and girls in “family” movies — that is, movies rated G, PG, and PG-13. The authors looked at all English-language fictional G-rated films released in the U.S. or Canada between September 2006 and September 2009 (a total of 22 movies). They also looked at the 50 highest-grossing films for both PG- and PG-13-ratings, meaning a total of 122 movies is included in the analysis. They focused on characters that were either mentioned by name or spoke at least one word in the movie, leading to a sample of 5,554 characters. Of those, 70.8% were male and 29.2% were female.

Consistent with patterns in Hollywood in general, women made up a small proportion of directors, writers, and producers in the movies studied:

The authors found that movies with female directors and/or writers had more female characters than those with male directors/writers, with writers seeming to have a stronger effect than directors:

Of course, this could be because female directors/writers actively try to incorporate female characters into movies or because studios are simply more comfortable hiring female directors/writers to work on movies with female characters than they are other types of films, leading to a concentration of women working on such projects.

Comparing the results of this study to an earlier analysis of films from 1990-2006, we see that the gender imbalance isn’t improving over time (though since the methodologies differed slightly, the data aren’t absolutely comparable and so are more indicative of a general trend; the authors did make statistical adjustments for the methodological differences):

Of course, none of this gets at the content of the films. The study found that female characters were generally younger than male characters, made up only 17% of group or crowd scenes, and often had plotlines that centered entirely around interests in romance.