Digital Tool Screens for Inclusiveness, Unconscious Bias in Hollywood Scripts

Organizations can take steps to be more diverse and inclusive

Kathy Gurchiek By Kathy Gurchiek October 10, 2019
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​The Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media is partnering with Walt Disney Studios to deploy a new digital tool, "GD-IQ: Spellcheck for Bias," that uses AI technology to assess gender bias and underrepresentation of other groups in film and TV.

Davis spoke about the technology during the Oct. 4 closing keynote speech at the New Zealand Power of Inclusion Summit. The event was hosted by the New Zealand Film Commission and Women in Film and Television International with support from Walt Disney Studios.

The tool evaluates scripts on the number of male and female characters as well as people of color; those with disabilities; people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer; and others typically underrepresented by Hollywood, according to the Hollywood Reporter. It also can determine the number of lines in a script spoken by minorities, the sophistication level of their vocabulary and other traits.

[SHRM members-only tools and samples: How to Develop a Diversity and Inclusion Initiative]

Davis says the tool can help Hollywood be a catalyst for change. 

"No matter how hard we work, we can't snap our fingers and suddenly half the corporate boards are women. It's going to take a long time to make some of these changes," she said. However, that underrepresentation can be fixed quickly onscreen, added Davis, whose institute commissioned a number of studies that found Hollywood representations influence real-world behavior of men and women.

"In the time it takes to create a new show or a new film, we can present a whole new vision of the future. Yes, there are woefully few female CEOs in the world, but half of them can be female onscreen immediately. … There can be droves of women in STEM careers now on TV and in movies, and then it will happen in real life."

It's an example of how organizations can take steps to be more diverse and inclusive. SHRM Online has collected the following stories on this topic from its archives and other sources.

Geena Davis Unveils Partnership with Disney to 'Spellcheck' Scripts for Gender Bias 

The Spellcheck for Bias initiative is an extension of work Davis has been doing for more than 15 years. She founded her institute in 2004 after realizing as the mother of a young daughter that female characters were underrepresented, even in children's entertainment. Her organization has commissioned scores of studies on representation gaps in entertainment, their influence in shaping societal expectations, and the aspirations or prejudices of under- and overrepresented groups. 
(Hollywood Reporter)   

Is Gender Bias Really Impacting the Hiring of Women in STEM? 

A new study by Toni Schmader, a psychologist at the University of British Columbia, and researchers in France found that hiring committees that denied that gender bias is a problem were less likely to promote women. The study showed the importance of hiring-committee members having adequate training in biases, stereotypes and strategies that prevent implicit biases from affecting their hiring decisions. 
(Forbes)   

How Can Reducing Unconscious Bias Increase Women's Success in IT?  

In the information-technology workplace, unconscious gender bias can lead to discriminatory judgments in hiring, performance reviews and promotions. Experiments consistently show that women and their work are perceived as less valuable than men's even when their demonstrated ability is identical. Organizations can make performance standards explicit and clearly communicate them, as well as hold supervisors accountable for gender disparities in assignments, promotions and salaries.
(National Center for Women & Information Technology)  

A Dozen Ways Boards Can Become More Diverse 

A new report, Diversity in the Boardroom: Pushing Forward, Reaching Back, offers 12 recommendations on how boards of directors can diversify their membership. 
(SHRM Online)   

12 Unconscious Bias Examples and How to Avoid Them in the Workplace  

The best way to avoid unconscious biases is to become aware of them so they don't affect recruiting, hiring and retaining employees. Here are 12 examples of unconscious bias that commonly affect candidates and employees in the workplace and some tips to avoid them.  
(Built In)   

6 Steps for Building an Inclusive Workplace  

When employees who are different from their colleagues are allowed to flourish, the company benefits from their ideas, skills and engagement and the retention rate of those workers rises, according to SHRM/The Economist Intelligence Unit research. Here are six practical strategies for creating an inclusive environment. 
(SHRM Online)





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