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MullenLowe London's campaign reveals gender bias in childhood cartoons

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MullenLowe London's campaign reveals gender bias in childhood cartoons

Inspiring Girls International, a charity founded by Miriam Gonzalez launched a new campaign about gender disparity and stereotyping affecting the world’s children through childhood role models. This campaign builds upon last year’s campaign, #RedrawTheBalance, which highlighted the fact that gender stereotypes form between 5-7 years of age. This year, the campaign focuses on one of the key reinforcers of those stereotypes—the animation industry.

The campaign, ‘It’s Time To Get Animated’, exposes the gender bias in childhood cartoons where only 29 per cent of all animated characters are women*. These role models shape our children and ingrain gender stereotyping at a young age, as they watch and learn from Bob The Builder, Postman Pat alongside the few princesses or lovelorn females.

'It’s Time to Get Animated', launched on International Women’s Day, reveals the characters that children don’t yet see and invites the viewer to #RedrawTheBalance.

The pro-bono campaign has been made for Inspiring Girls International by leading creative agency MullenLowe London. The charity, set up and chaired by Gonzalez, is dedicated to raising the aspirations of young girls around the world by connecting girls with female role models.

Gonzalez explains, “There is an inner role model inside every single woman and young girls should look up to them to realize the possibilities they have in life. That is why we have set up Inspiring Girls International. Because we want to make it easy for girls all around the world to have access to female role models no matter where they live. This campaign reveals how from a very early age, children receive a stereotyped vision of the world. The lack of female leading characters in animation is just the reflection of an unbalanced society and affects the self-confidence of girls that continues later on in their lives.”

At the centre of the campaign, an online film, directed by Sophie Markatatos at Strange Beast, follows female animator Sophie Marka talking about how, in her industry, lead characters are still mostly men. The film is supported by four print executions: ‘Angela The Astronaut’ designed by Lizzie Campbell, ‘Cathy The Carpenter’ designed by Be Towers, ‘Sally The Scientist’ by Ariane Pelissoni and ‘Carla The Coder’ by Abigail de la Cruz.

Behind the scenes in the creative industry, only 20 per cent of animators are female**. MullenLowe London challenged this industry norm by building an almost entirely female team including the animator, four female illustrators, editor, director, sound designers, musicians and producers.

Richard Denney, ECD of MullenLowe London, comments, “The creative and media industry clearly plays an important role in a child’s early perception of the world and how they see their place in it. The stats are shocking, both onscreen and behind the scenes, and we have a huge responsibility to act so that girls aim high and become the future. Other than a couple of token men including myself, we made sure the team surrounding this incredible project was built on female talent. You have to practice what you preach.”

The global campaign launched on 7th March with Gonzalez presenting the Inspiring Girls initiative in Brussels to the European Parliament and the European Commission in a speed mentoring event with 50 school girls and 12 high profile women, including the European Commissioners Vera Jourova and Margrethe Vestager, the European Ombudsman Emily O’Reilly and Joanna Maycock, Secretary General of the European Women’s Lobby.

The 2016 #RedrawTheBalance film, shot on location at Whitstable Junior School in Kent with 20 children between the ages of 5 and 7, was an enormous success, attracting 30 million views and famous influencers including Emma Watson, Geena Davis, Sir Ken Robinson, and NASA.

*Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media ‘Gender Bias Without Borders’

**Women In Animation


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