Boys and Girls (Really) Want More Women in Sci-Fi, Superhero Genres, Study Finds

The world still needs more superheroes who are women, according to the findings of a report from BBC America in collaboration with the Women’s Media Center. The science fiction genre is not inclusive enough, says the study, which looked at how the depictions of women on screen affect young women and girls and presented its findings in a series of infographics.

“Media tells us our roles in society,” the report’s introduction reads. The bottom line: Children believe there is not enough representation in the superhero and sci-fi genres, and they want more superheroes and role models who look like them.

The current climate can be deceiving, with the success of films such as Wonder Woman, Black Panther, and A Wrinkle in Time, but it’s not enough. One or two films starring a woman or with an entirely minority cast can't fix the problem.

Teen girls are still significantly less likely to describe themselves as confident, brave and heard, says the study. This is even more relevant for girls of color, who are less likely to feel listened to when they speak up. There is still a 23 percent gender gap in careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, and only 20 percent of people in top-level tech positions are women. One in 3 teens thinks girls have fewer opportunities to be leaders.

who are kids favorite superheroes These are kids' favorite superheroes. Women's Media Center/ BBC

So what can superheroes and science fiction role models do? The study finds more girls than boys look to heroes in media, especially girls of color. Parents of children under 10 say that, outside of the family, their kids look to superheroes as role models.

Nine in 10 girls say that sci-fi/superheroes are positive role models, but they also believe female heroes are smarter and more powerful than men, with Wonder Woman being the top hero. She makes girls feel “strong, brave, confident, inspired, positive and motivated.”

But boys also want more female superheroes: 69 percent of boys aged 10-19 want more women sci-fi heroes and superheroes. Even though boys favorite characters are male (Batman is the top), two in three boys' said they enjoy watching female heroes just as much. Bottom line, the younger generation thinks sci-fi and superhero genres are not inclusive enough. You listening, Hollywood? Check out more of the study's findings in the infographic below. 

SuperPowering-Girls_Infographic more female women superheroes A new study says there's still not enough inclusivity in the science fiction/superhero genres. BBC / Women's Media Center

View the full report here.

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