Disney to use Geena Davis’s ‘Spellcheck for Bias’ to fix gender imbalance in films

‘If we see more women on screen as corporate leaders, scientists and politicians, there will be more women in real life taking up these roles’

 Actor and activist Geena Davis  during The Power Of Inclusion Summit 2019 at Aotea Centre  in Auckland, New Zealand. Photograph: Fiona Goodall/Getty Images

Actor and activist Geena Davis during The Power Of Inclusion Summit 2019 at Aotea Centre in Auckland, New Zealand. Photograph: Fiona Goodall/Getty Images

 

Actor and equality campaigner Geena Davis has announced that Disney has adopted a digital tool that will analyse scripts and identify opportunities to rectify any gender and ethnic biases.

Davis, founder of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, was speaking at the Power of Inclusion event in New Zealand, where she outlined the development of GD-IQ: Spellcheck for Bias, a machine learning tool described as “an intervention tool to infuse diversity and inclusion in entertainment and media”. Developed by the University of Southern California Viterbi School of Engineering, the Spellcheck for Bias is designed to analyse a script and determine the percentages of characters’ “gender, race, LGBTQIA [AND]disabilities”. It can also track the percentage of “non-gender-defined speaking characters”.

Davis said that Disney had partnered with her institute to pilot the project: “We’re going to collaborate with Disney over the next year using this tool to help their decision-making [AND]identify opportunities to increase diversity and inclusion in the manuscripts that they receive. We’re very excited about the possibilities with this new technology and we encourage everybody to get in touch with us and give it a try.”

Davis said the plan was not to “shame and blame”, but to reveal any unconscious biases in film projects before they entered production.

The Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media was founded in 2007 after the actor – who won a best supporting actress Oscar in 1989 for The Accidental Tourist – became concerned about the male-dominated entertainment her young daughter was consuming.

At the summit, Davis added: “We don’t have enough female role models to inspire change. We need to see it in fiction to create the cultural change we need. If we see more women on screen as corporate leaders, scientists and politicians, there will be more women in real life taking up these roles.” – The Guardian

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