by Guest Contributor Rachell Arteaga, originally published at The Majority Post
A member of Women in Children’s Media, I recently had the privilege of attending this year’s 10th annual KidScreen Summit. With just over 1000 attendees and hundreds of speakers from across the country and all over the world, this truly was a Mecca for all those who are in the business of creating kid’s media. I, however, attended as an observer absorbing what I could from workshops that really delved into the inner workings of the content and production of children’s media. I arrived at this three-day extravaganza with one question – what is the kids’ media industry doing to serve girls and children of color?
I couldn’t help but feel frustrated by the answer. While programming aimed at children in preschool and ages 5-7 seem to do their part with shows like Dora the Explorer, Maya and Miguel and Little Bill, ‘tween audiences (ages 8-12) seem to be left in a vast cultural wasteland with a dearth of empowering female role models and an even greater absence of featured children of color. This hole in representation is glaringly more apparent in animation. Dr. Maya Götz, head of the International Central Institute for Youth and Educational Television (IZI), conducted a study which surveyed television shows throughout the globe. In it, IZI found that “Only 32% of all main characters in children’s television are female. The ratio of male to female characters in animation programmes, especially if the main character is an animal, monster, etc., is as disparate as 87% male to 13% female.” The same study found that “72% of all main characters in children’s television [around the world] are Caucasian.” Continue reading