Children hold stereotyped beliefs about what they think boys and girls are like, and what they are each capable of doing. It’s a natural part of child development and how kids begin to make sense of the world. But some of these views can have negative or even harmful effects, and the media is a huge influence on kids’ beliefs. In family entertainment, females are more often than not “damsels in distress” who aim to be pretty and sweet, while males are confident, strong, and successful in their profession.
Watching portrayals like this over and over cements negative stereotypes in kids’ minds. For girls, this can lead to low self-esteem, poor body image, and less career ambition. These messages can lead boys to feel that females are passive, weak, and generally less capable. The videos, along with the accompanying education curriculum, seek to challenge children’s beliefs about gender stereotypes by showing men and women in non-traditional jobs, by getting children thinking critically about their own beliefs, challenging what they see in the media, and becoming aware of the array of possibilities for their own careers. The educational curriculum is designed for children ages 6-9 and correlates with National Curriculum Standards in Social Studies and Media Literacy.
The videos were produced by 5 universities around the country, working with their film/video departments and led by a wonderful group of college students.