Gender issues

What do media images tell us about women?

Girls need to see women in power in order to believe they themselves can have power. The problem is, our film industry isn’t cooperating! Learn how you can help change the equation. According to, research shows that:

What is the Ratio of Males to Females in Family Films?

  • Males outnumber females 3 to 1 in family films.
  • In contrast, females comprise just over 50% of the population in the United States.
  • Even more staggering is the fact that this ratio, as seen in family films, is the same as it was in 1946.

Are Females in Sexy Attire More than Men?

  • Females are almost four times as likely as males to be shown in sexy attire.
  • Further, females are nearly twice as likely as males to be shown with a diminutive waistline.
  • Generally unrealistic figures are more likely to be seen on females than males.

What is the Representation of Women Behind the Camera?

  • Females are also underrepresented behind the camera.
  • Across 1,565 content creators:
    • 7% of directors
    • 13% of writers
    • 20% of producers are female.
  • This translates to 4.8 males working behind-the-scenes to every one female.

Are Females in Any Leadership Roles in Family Films?

  • From 2006 to 2009, not one female character was depicted in G-rated family films in the field of medical science, as a business leader, in law, or politics.
  • In these films, 80.5% of all working characters are male and 19.5% are female, which is a contrast to real world statistics, where women comprise 50% of the workforce.
All facts are supported by research conducted by Dr. Stacy Smith, Ph.D. at the USC Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism

Geena Davis Institute on Gender in the Media

Women In Media: Fair Representation?

Just returned from a screening of the indie documentary MissRepresentation and Oh boy, what wonderful discussions and conversations followed as the audience mingled after the film.

Think how women are portrayed in the media these days.

Missrepresentation trailer screen shot
Tired of the heavily made-up stereotypes displaying their DD bust lines on emaciated bodies? Tired of the bimbo catfights? Sick of seeing women putting all their energies into competing for the man who will make their dreams come true? Up to here with violence against women?
How did it get this way?
What you can do to change it?

Find a screening of the fantastic documentary MissRepresentation.

It connects these dots and more:

  • How women fired after World War II to open jobs for returning soldiers were lured back into the home with a major PR campaign.
  • How buying and tending  gleaming appliances became the be-all and end-all for middle class women.
  • How the women’s movement caught fire then gradually lost strength until now feminism is no longer about equal opportunity for women but has become a dirty word that right-wing pundits have made synonymous with baby-killer.
  • How luring men aged 18-34 to the TV set is a primary advertiser goal, hence the use of women’s bodies to keep their eyeballs glued to the set.
  • How the networks think one women’s channel was plenty, while 22 sports channels isn’t enough.
  • Understand that the United States ranks 90th among nations in percentage of women in government.
  • See the percentage of women in board positions in major media conglomerates and TV studios.
  • See the studies that for the last 30 years have linked media violence against women with the rise of violence in our nation.
  • Why this situation is not just bad for women and girls but cruelly endangers boys and men as well.
  • And so much more!

Women control 86% of the purchasing decisions in this country.

This film sets out many action steps all women can take to change this situation. We have the power, women. Let’s use it!

Women and War

Women Have to Empower ThemselvesWar Redefined is the capstone of a 5-part series on public television. Many interviews are available on the PBS website as transcripts or podcasts.
Interviews with female Secretaries of State and others “reveal how the post-Cold War proliferation of small arms has changed the landscape of war, with women becoming primary targets and suffering unprecedented casualty rates.
Simultaneously, they describe how women are emerging as necessary partners in brokering lasting peace and as leaders in forging new international laws governing conflict.”

Women and children are the primary casualties of war in today’s world

In previous generations, most casualties were men.

“Women themselves have to empower themselves,” said Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in a PBS interview. She described the many ways women are changing the course of war in their countries. “They can’t wait for somebody to point to them and say, ‘Now you must be a leader and you must go forth and try to end this conflict.’ It has to come from within.”

What has changed about war today?

A recent 5-part PBS series explores what’s changed about war today and how women have and can change the situation.

  • Read Hillary Clinton’s interview
  • Read Gloria Steinem’s podcast on rape as a weapon of war.
    Rape was only defined as a war crime a decade ago.


Avoid gender stereotypes in Halloween costumes

What kind of Halloween costumes will you put on your kids this year?

bunch of grapes halloween costumeWhat will you wear yourself? What messages will these costumes say about girls and women’s roles, and about men’s relationships to women?

It’s worth thinking about! is a growing movement to change the way women and portrayed in the media and in society.
Our girls deserve a fair chance to view themselves as something other than sexy kittens while young boys are pushed towards hyper-masculinity and aggression.

Halloween costumes for women depict sexy stereotypes

Adult costumes are just as bad! On the Halloween page features a “Sexy Costumes” section. There are only women’s costumes in this section. There’s a clear imbalance here: is Halloween now for girls to dress sexy for men? The way we adults approach this holiday has a direct effect on how our kids view it. And with more and more of us participating in Halloween each year, it becomes critically important for us to think about that effect.
This Halloween I urge you to consider carefully how you dress yourself and your young ones. has started a campaign to collect positive and non-gendered Halloween costumes online. Post pictures or videos of your outfits on their Tumblr page and leave a sentence about why you chose it! Together we can start new trends and make Halloween a little less disconcerting for parents.

Women Who Aren’t Kids Speak Out

Founder and Publisher of The Three Tomatoes

Cheryl Benton

Cheryl Benton created The Three Tomatoes e-newsletter to share information with a few women friends who weren’t kids any more. After 30 years living and breathing the New York City advertising business, Cheryl stepped away and started her own marketing firm, 747 Marketing. She realized that most marketing in NYC is directed at 20-somethings and size zeros. That leaves a lot of us out!
Feeling ignored and invisible, she wanted to speak to women like herself. What started as a little hobby acquired a life of its own and became an empowering force for women. is now a go-to lifestyle guide with events, contests and wonderful, practical information and lots of advertisements targeting chic, successful women. The site’s e-newsletter has thousands of friends. It’s lighthearted and fun to read, and whether or not you’re in New York, you’ll love this website.
Listen to Cheryl’s insightful views about how marketers are missing the mark in speaking to women and even more important, how to become a tomato yourself.



Soar As Iron Butterflies

World leadership is undergoing a quiet revolution

Author of Iron Butterflies

Birute Regine

You won’t find out about it in the headlines or on the chatter of morning talk. But it’s there and it’s happening in waves among women who are slowly recognizing their power and how they can work together to find the balance that has been missing from world leadership.
One of the most resonating voices reporting on the progress of the revolution is Dr. Birute Regine. This amazing author, educator and developmental psychologist spent eight years on a labor of love interviewing women from all walks of life: from world political leaders to dancers, CEO’s and even a wise aboriginal elder. Then she coined the phrase, “Iron Butterflies,” to describe women who understand their strengths as women—their flexibility, vulnerability and knowledge of cooperation and collaboration to lead others and achieve balance and success themselves.
Iron Butterflies: Women Transforming Themselves and The World promises to be a landmark book charting women’s progress in the 21st century.  Listen to this inspirational Conversation with Dr. Nancy to learn how women are evolving and revolutionizing world leadership and how you can take your place among them.


Passive Men and Wild, Wild Women

Men aren’t born passive.
Women aren’t born wild.
We just have that effect on each other … too often.

  1. When and why does a conversation become one-sided, or dissolve into conflict?
  2. How can you turn it around and stay sane?

Man’s Attitude

  • At work…
    the man is often active, articulate, assertive, and usually successful in his conversations, especially with other men.
  • At home…
    he can become inactive, inarticulate, and withdrawn. He becomes passive with his wife – especially in certain situation.

Woman’s Attitude

  • When the woman works outside the home, she tends to communicate in a more active way at home – and instinctively wants the same style from her mate.

His apparent passivity drives her crazy.

In the face of his further retreat, she goes wild. * Then he becomes more still, and escapes at the first opportunity.

How the Man Sees Her Attitude

  • In personal relationships, women often want too much talk, as men sees it.
    —She feels resentful, complains, keeps asking questions, talks more, may even act bitter.
  • He feels he can’t meet her needs and ends up feeling guilty and sulks.
  • They both end up blaming each other.
  • He thinks: If only she’d shut up.
  • She thinks: If only he’d talk to me.

How to Engage Men in Positive, Lively Conversation

Suggestion #1 –  “Stop Talking Sooner”

Communication between men and womenOr, less politely, “shut up sooner.” As a child my mother washed my mouth out with soap for saying “shut up” yet that’s sound advice for women in trying to connect with men. Women are usually immediately aware of our feelings, able to express them, usually comfortable in explaining, and asking, and elaborating… in considerable detail.

Our verbal agility can inadvertently create a wall, as women, if it gets us out of sync with men. At times, in personal, social and work situations, men and women will get closer if the speed of the conversation and the amount of words slows down.

When women feel that men are not listening, we tend to “rise” to the occasion by raising our voice and verbiage. That is we tend to say more, faster, more intensely and at a higher volume. It is as if we are thinking, “What I said and how I said it did not work so I will do more of what did not work, and expect a different outcome.”

Our pace in conversation is faster and more multi-dimensional. We rush past and around most men.

We need to allow a man to respond, a point at a time, at his pace, without interrupting or finishing his sentences.

If the strongest complaint women have about men is that they do not listen, then we must work hardest on leaving the time for them to  speak.*

Suggestion #2 – “Sidle”

While women prefer to talk, face-to-face, men pefer to sidle, standing side by side. Research shows that both women and men like each other more and get along better when standing or sitting side- by side.

Suggestion #3 – “Get Moving”

Any woman who wants better relations with a man should “walk it out:” talk while walking to the meeting, around the block, etc.

Further, when men and women are walking or eating together their body motions become more similar so they get more in sync. Even vital signs (heartbeat, skin temperature, eye pupil dilation) become more similar) so we are more likely to feel a natural, easy kinship. In motion we tend to experience the best, rather than the worst side in the opposite sex. That’s good news. Yes?

Suggestion #4 – “‘See’ the Situation Their Way”

Women crave longer and more continuous eye contact than men. To help men feel more comfortable let go of that unremitting eye gaze. Glance away sometimes as a man is inclined to do while thinking. His glance away does not necessarily mean avoidance so don’t act as if it does by a your harsh tone, words or glance. He may be trying to gather his thoughts.

More Peace-Keeping Suggestions for Women and Men


  • It is harder to argue when you are holding hands.
  • Know that showing appreciation and attention, especially when you least want to show them and the other person most needs them, will always bring you closer than asking for them.
  • First look to the other person’s positive intent as you hear what is said.
  • Saying less often gets you more of what you want from him.
  • Looking directly and warmly at her, rather than away, often brings out the part of her you most enjoy.
  • Making and keeping an agreement usually helps the other person feel more safe, respected and cared for in the relationship.
  • First try to act in a different and positive way before you verbally ask for a change in someone else.
  • First answer the other person’s question. Answer it directly, without preface, qualifiers, countering, second guessing, answering questions she or he did not ask or raising other points first.
  • Find out whether the other person feels you’ve answered her or his question or otherwise responded adequately before you move onto your question or another point or topic.
  • Rather than describing what you don’t like, ask for a specific change.
  • Be willing to make a change before asking for one.
  • Know that the more changes you ask for the more resistance you’ll face, and the more likely it will be for you both go to your heads to think, rather than to your hearts to feel.
  • Use factual language and few words to describe what you want changed.
  • Use emotion-laden language, and more words, to describe what you like in the other person.
  • Women: Say and move less, especially when you want to do the opposite
  • Men: Give her more eye contact. If you don’t feel comfortable answering her right away, tell her so directly. Then tell her when you will get back to her with a response.
  • In the middle of your hottest moments of discussion, remember what you most like in the other person and take the time to express it.


  • Don’t interrupt, especially when you most want to.
  • Do not answer a question with a question, including questioning that person’s question of you.
  • Showing resentment and resistance will most likely escalate the hardening of sides between you.
  • Don’t ask for more than one change at a time, unless you want them all ignored.

More Thoughts on the Still Man and the Active Woman:

Joseph Heller wrote a vivid passage about what this feels like for a man in his novel, “Something Happened”: “I try my best to remember on what terms (my wife) and I parted this morning, or went to sleep last night, in order to know if she is still angry with me for something I did or did not say or do that I am no longer aware of.  Is she mad or is she glad? I can’t remember. And I am unable to tell. So I remain on guard … “

Consequently his routine around her begins by being on guard, walking on eggshells, and hers is to speak out more, sooner, longer and wait for him to “get it”, to respond. When he doesn’t, she escalates her attack, gets more specific and detailed, motivated to get him to finally respond. He gets overwhelmed and tunes out sooner, longer and more frequently.

You see something gradually changed. The tenderness left. And tenderness is the lubricant in male/female love relationships. Early in a relationship men and women are innocent until proven guilty. We literally don’t see what we do not want to see and focus on what we adore. Later, after repetitive “passive men and wild, wild women” episodes of friction, each person is guilty until proven innocent, from the beginning. Because that is what we grow to expect of each other and act out to prove each other right.

The rules now? Whatever he does now is never enough. Right or wrong, he is always wrong. And so is she.


Kare Anderson is an Emmy-winning former NBC and Wall Street Journal reporter and author ( Her clients include Nomura Securities, Google, U.S. Secret Service and Venrock.

Amazing Women Find Their Zip and Zest for Life

Women lose hormones as the years pass. As early as age 30 women’s hormone levels begin to drop as does their zip and energy. Find ways to find your passion and enthusiasm again.

Get Their Voices Heard

Claire Damken Brown

Dr. Claire Damken Brown

Do you feel tuned out and turned off by the men you work with?
Whether it’s your boss, co-worker or life partner you’re trying to get through to, if it’s a man, you need to hear this week’s Conversation with Dr. Nancy.
Dr. Claire Brown is an amazing communication expert, women’s advocate and savvy speaker with 25 years of experience working with Fortune 50 companies. Claire joined forces with Dr. Audrey Nelson, an internationally known communication specialist to co-author a groundbreaking new book, Code Switching, How to Talk So Men Will Listen.
Code Switching offers a way to reach across the aisle and open the lines of communication between men and women, crack the gender code and speak in common terms. It’s amazing, when you speak their language, how men respond, work gets done and leadership is recognized.
Learn what it takes to transform your power of speech when you cross the gender divide of communication.


Timeless Women Get Their Voices Heard

Do you feel tuned out and turned off by the men you work with?

Whether it’s your boss, co-worker or life partner you’re trying to get through to, if it’s a man, you need to hear this week’s Conversation with Dr. Nancy.

Dr. Claire Brown is an amazing communication expert, women’s advocate and savvy speaker with 25 years of experience working with Fortune 50 companies. Claire joined forces with Dr. Audrey Nelson, an internationally known communication specialist to co-author a groundbreaking new book, Code Switching, How to Talk So Men Will Listen.

Code Switching offers a way to reach across the aisle and open the lines of communication between men and women, crack the gender code and speak in common terms. It’s amazing, when you speak their language, how men respond, work gets done and leadership is recognized.

Learn what it takes to transform your power of communication when you cross the gender divide of communication. Listen to Dr. Nancy’s Conversation with Dr. Claire Brown.

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