A new study, jointly run by the Women’s Media Center and BBC America, attempted to quantify just how much female representation matters in the sci-fi and superhero genres, assessing how these characters may influence young women and girls. The significant underrepresentation of female superheroes in movies has long been a subject of criticism. The study offers a look into how this underrepresentation affects female audiences, and young girls specifically. Interestingly, while the surveyed boys listed predominantly male characters as their favorite superheroes, two out of three boys said they enjoyed watching female sci-fi characters and superheroes at the same level as male characters. Despite the underrepresentation of female sci-fi characters and superheroes, nine in 10 girls said that those characters served as positive role models and that female representation in those areas was empowering, with the data suggesting that young girls feel more confident when they see on-screen heroes who look like them. The amount of “Firsts” in movies and TV shows that center around strong female characters is staggering. “It’s time to expand what gets seen, and we hope this report will contribute to sparking change in the stories we see on screen. With greater representation of female heroes in the sci-fi and superhero genre, we can help superpower the next generation of women.”

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