Media, Diversity, & Social Change Initiative

About Us

September 6, 2016--NEW! Inequality in 800 Popular Films: Read the full report on gender, race/ethnicity, LGBT status, and disability in films from 2007 to 2015 (excluding 2011).

 

September 13, 2016--NEW! The Rare & Ridiculed: Senior Citizens in the 100 Top Films of 2015: Read the full report on characters age 60 and over in film. Research conducted in partnership with Humana and the USC Annenberg Center for Public Relations.

 

The Media, Diversity, & Social Change (MDSC) Initiative at USC's Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism is a leading think tank dedicated to addressing issues of inequality in entertainment.  

 

"Our work is about bringing evidence and insight to media industries on where diversity is needed.  I am in this to change the landscape of humanity, flanked by the next generation of world leaders: USC graduates and undergraduates," says Dr. Stacy L. Smith, Director of the Media, Diversity, & Social Change Initiative.

 

MDSC's research has already been presented in multiple media outlets, including the Los Angeles Times, New York Times, The Atlantic, Huffington Post, USA Today, Salon, and others. We have worked with multiple for- and non-profit institutions to investigate disparities in media presentation for females and individuals from other underrepresented groups. MDSC Initiative is the leading group for industry research, located near the epicenter of the entertainment industry and networked to key decision-makers.


The MDSC Initiative engages in programmatic research, education, and advocacy in pursuit of its vision.

We work in four specific areas:

  1. Media portrayals of gender and race in popular narrative and documentary films and TV.
  2. Documenting employment patterns by gender and race/ethnicity behind the camera in fiction and non-fiction entertainment.
  3. Interviews with filmmakers about barriers and opportunities they experience navigating their careers.
  4. Assessment of audiences' needs and the financial performance of films as a function of gender and/or race of speaking characters and content creators.

These overarching research goals and activities serve as the pillars of the Initiative, and shape and define the individual projects we undertake. 

"Everyone deserves a chance to be seen and heard, and their stories should be told,"  says Marc Choueiti, Project Administrator for the Initiative.  "Our research points out the gaps and shows where change is possible."

 

MEET THE TEAM
What's New

September 13, 2016
In partnership with Humana and the USC Center for Public Relations, we released a study on characters age 60 and above in film. The report was covered by the Associated Press, Bloomberg News, Deadline, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, and the Huffington Post.

September 6, 2016
Our annual analysis--Inequality in 800 Popular Films-- was released. This year, we covered gender, race/ethnicity, LGBT, and characters with disabilities. Behind the camera, we also added a look at composer gender. The story was covered by the Associated Press, Deadline, Indiewire, LA Weekly, Salon, Wired, and Dr. Stacy Smith appeared on The Frame, Press Play, and other outlets.

July 9, 2016
Dr. Stacy L. Smith was on hand at the premiere of the new Ghostbusters film to talk about why having female leads in STEM is so important.

June 14, 2016
At the United State of Women summit, Dr. Stacy L. Smith appeared on a panel to discuss depictions of girls and women in media.

June 4, 2016
Dr. Stacy L. Smith appeared at the PGA Produced By conference to discuss gender and STEM in film. Read about the panel in Deadline, Yahoo! movies, and TheWrap

April 11, 2016
Data from the MDSC Initiative's report on the top-grossing films from 2007 to 2014 was featured in an analysis by The Economist on sexualization in film.

April 6, 2016
The MDSC Initiative co-sponsored a conference on Gender Stereotyping in Toys and Media with the White House Council on Women and Girls and the U.S. Department of Education. This article in The Washington Post explains more about the conference.

March 30, 2016
The MDSC Initiative co-hosted a screening of the docuseries The 4%: Film's Gender Gap with SAG-AFTRA. Our own Dr. Stacy Smith is featured in the film, and joined a panel with Paul Feig, Maria Bello, Tina Mabry, 4% Director Caroline Suh, and Rebecca Keegan to discuss issues facing women in Hollywood. Read more about the event from The Associated Press and Deadline Hollywood.

February 22, 2016
The first-ever Comprehensive Annenberg Report on Diversity (CARD) was released. See coverage of the report in these various news outlets: Associated Press, New York Times, Variety, NPR, The Atlantic, and more. Also, read about the event we hosted to discuss solutions to inequality in entertainment.

December 21, 2015
Dr. Stacy Smith, Founder and Director of the MDSC Initiative was named the Most Influential Person in Los Angeles for 2015 by LA Weekly! Congratulations, Stacy!


November 20, 2015
Dr. Stacy Smith was mentioned in a New York Times Magazine story, "The Women of Hollywood Speak Out." MDSC research and Dr. Smith were also included in two articles from LA Weekly on women and girls in film.

October 6, 2015
MDSC releases a new research study in partnership with LUNAFEST, Gender & Short Films: Emerging Female Filmmakers and the Barriers Surrounding Their Careers.
The study examines female directors of short films at 10 top film festivals, career barriers for women, and the content of 115 short films screened at LUNAFEST.

August 6, 2015
Our newest research study, "Inequality in 700 Popular Films" is featured all across print, web, radio, and even television news. Read the study, and the coverage in The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, Variety, Deadline Hollywood, Mashable, CBS This Morning, The Guardian, and others. Also, listen to Dr. Stacy Smith on KCRW's Press Play with Madeleine Brand.

May 14, 2015
MDSC research is featured in multiple news stories this week, coinciding with the ACLU's action regarding female directors. Coverage appears in
The New York Times the Associated Press, KPCC, The Los Angeles Times, Variety, The Washington Post, and USA Today. A separate editorial in The Washington Post also features the newest MDSC research on female directors.

April 22, 2015
Our newest report on barriers facing female filmmakers is out! In partnership with Women in Film Los Angeles and Sundance Institute, read Phase III of our study: Exploring the Careers of Female Directors. Check out coverage in Variety and The Wrap!

February 22, 2015
The
Los Angeles Times runs a story on the lack of female directors in the Hollywood studio system, and includes a quote from Dr. Stacy Smith.

February 2, 2015
Dr. Stacy Smith and Dr. Katherine Pieper describe why casting the Ghostbusters reboot is progress, but not a panacea for diversity in Hollywood at CNN.
 

January 27, 2015
What do we actually mean by "avoiding gender and racial bias" in Hollywood? Alyssa Rosenberg at The Washington Post asks the question, and mentions Dr. Stacy Smith and MDSC Initiative research in her answer.

January 26, 2015
Two years after the MDSC Initiative published the first report with Women in Film Los Angeles and Sundance Institute, TakePart recaps the findings and the current discussion around women in film.
 

January 22, 2015
At the opening night of the Sundance Film Festival, Dr. Stacy Smith and her work are mentioned in a conversation about diversity. Mashable covers the conversation.

January 21, 2015
Lights, Camera, Taking Action : Dr. Stacy Smith is front and center in this New York Times article that discusses how groups are working to change Hollywood.

January 21, 2015
Variety mentions Dr. Stacy Smith and MDSC Initiative research in a story on a Producer's Guild program to increase the number of female producers.

January 20, 2015
USC Annenberg and the MDSC Initiative launch a new project-- the USC Annenberg Comprehensive Analysis and Report on Diversity (CARD) to grade Hollywood on diversity. Women and Hollywood quotes Dr. Stacy Smith and MDSC team members on the project.

January 15, 2015
On the heels of the Oscar nominations, Dr. Stacy Smith and MDSC Initiative research is quoted in Bloomberg, The Los Angeles Times, and at Medium.com.

December 15, 2014
More solutions for diversifying Hollywood! Dr. Stacy Smith describes three ways to create equality in The Hollywood Reporter's Women in Entertainment issue.

November 24, 2014
Dr. Stacy Smith's solution to gender imbalance in film, Just Add Five, is cross posted at
Women and Hollywood .

November 19, 2014
Debuting a solution to gender imbalance on screen in film!  Dr. Stacy Smith describes how to reach parity in a piece at The Wrap.

October 3, 2014
Curious about how MDSC research works? Read
a profile of the team and our work at FiveThirtyEight.com .

September 23, 2014
Our Global Study on Gender in Media is here! Download the executive summary, and check out coverage in the LA Times, Salon, BBC News, The Guardian, Sydney Morning Herald, fivethirtyeight, and Forbes. More coverage coming soon!

August 25, 2014
New MDSC research on race/ethnicity in popular films has been covered in
Buzzfeed , and NBC News !

August 11, 2014
More reporting on our newest research covering race/ethnicity and gender in popular films! Check out stories in
The Washington Post , The Telegraph , and NPR .

August 6, 2014
Missed our newest studies on gender and race/ethnicity in popular films? You can still read about the work in Mashable, The Guardian, The New York Daily News, and at
CNN and the BBC .

August 5, 2014
Continuing coverage of our newest study on race/ethnicity in popular films: Variety, The Los Angeles Times, and Flavorwire.

August 4, 2014
New MDSC Initiative research featured by the AP: Few Roles for Hispanics in Top Films. 
Read more here.

July 24, 2014
The LA Times announces the latest MDSC research on females in film! Find the full report below and read the full story here.

April 1, 2014
MDSC research on gender in film is featured in a fivethirtyeight article on gender and film budgets.
See what they have to say about our findings...

March 1, 2014
Dr. Stacy Smith, MDSC Initiative director, joins Robin Morgan for Women's Media Center Live.
Listen here!

February 14, 2014
MDSC research is featured in The Hollywood Reporter.
Read the article here.

January 21, 2014
Indiewire covers our most recent study of female filmmakers in the independent realm.
Read the story here .


Previous Research

Reports on Gender, Race/Ethnicity, & LGBT On-Screen and Behind-the-Scenes in Film, TV, Digital

2014-15: Comprehensive Annenberg Report on Diversity in Entertainment (CARD)   exec summary ) ( full report )
Report examines film, television, and digital content. The study ranks companies based on inclusivity on screen and behind-the camera.


Yearly Reports on Gender On-Screen and Behind-the-Scenes in Film

2015: NEW! Inequality in 800 Popular Films ( full report )
Annual report on gender, race/ethnicity, and LGBT status in film. Includes data on representation, hypersexualization, and employment patterns in popular films (2007-2015, excluding 2011).

2014: Inequality in 700 Popular Films ( full report )
Annual report on gender, race/ethnicity, and LGBT status in film. Includes data on representation, hypersexualization, and employment patterns in popular films (2007-2014, excluding 2011).

2013: Gender Inequality in 600 Popular Films ( full report )
Our yearly report on representation on-screen, hypersexualization, and employment patterns in popular films from 2007-2010, and 2012-2013. 
 

2012: Gender Inequality in 500 Popular Films ( full report )
On-screen representation, hypersexualization, and employment patterns in popular films from 2007-2010 and 2012.

2007-2009: Gender Inequality in 300 Popular Films ( full report )
Females shown on-screen, hypersexuality, and production roles across popular films released between 2007 and 2009.

2008: Gender Inequality in Top-Grossing Films ( full report )
On-screen representation, hypesexualization, and employment patterns in popular films from 2008.

2007: Gender Inequality in Top Grossing Films ( full report )
On-screen representation, hypersexualization, and employment patterns in popular films from 2007.

Race/Ethnicity On-Screen and Behind-the Scenes in Film

2015: NEW! Inequality in 800 Popular Films ( full report )
Annual report on gender, race/ethnicity, and LGBT status in film. Includes data on representation, hypersexualization, and employment patterns in popular films (2007-2015, excluding 2011).

2014: Inequality in 700 Popular Films ( full report )
Annual report on gender, race/ethnicity, and LGBT status in film. Includes data on representation, hypersexualization, and employment patterns in popular films (2007-2014, excluding 2011).

2013: Race/Ethnicity in 600 Popular Films ( full report )
On-screen representation, hypersexualization, and employment patterns in popular films from 2007-2010 and 2012-2013.

2012: Race/Ethnicity in 500 Popular Films ( full report )
On-screen representation, hypersexualization, and employment patterns in popular films from 2007-2010 and 2012.

2007-2008: Black Characters in Popular Film ( full report  )
On-screen representation, hypersexualization, and employment patterns in popular films from 2008.

Gender On-Screen and Behind-the-scenes in Academy-Award Nominated Films


2010: Gender Representation 1977-2010 (
full report )
Females on screen and behind-the-camera in Best Picture nominees.

2006: Gender Representation 1977-2006 ( full report )
Females on screen and behind-the-camera in Best Picture nominees.

Gender On-Screen and Behind-the-Scenes in Family Films and Television

2014: Gender Bias Without Borders (executive summary & full report)
An investigation of female characters in popular films from 11 countries. Report prepared for the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media.

2012: Gender Roles & Occupations in Film and Television (short report)  
Examines female representation on-screen and in various industries across family films, prime-time television, and children's shows. Prepared for the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media.

2011: Occupational Portrayals in G-Rated Films ( full report )
A study prepared for the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media on gender roles and occupations in G-rated content.

2011: Industry Leaders' Perceptions of Gender in Family Films ( executive summary  )
This study explores reasons for gender imbalance in family films through interviews with 108 industry leaders. Report prepared for the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media.

2010: Gender Disparity in Family Films ( full report )
A study of G-, PG-, and PG-13-rated content, prepared for the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media.

2008: Gender Stereotypes in Popular Films and TV ( full report )
Four studies of gender representation in film and television, including a qualitative analysis of protagonists in G-rated content. Report prepared for the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media.

Women Behind-the-Scenes in Independent Film

2015/2014/2013: Barriers and Opportunities Facing Females in Independent Film
(2015 full report; 2014
full report ; 2013 full report )
An analysis of employment patterns of filmmakers at Sundance Film Festival and Sundance Institute Filmmaker Labs. This study also uses interviews with content creators and industry leaders to illuminate barriers and opportunities for women behind the camera in independent and more commercial film arenas. Report prepared for Sundance Institute and Women in Film Los Angeles.

2015 : Gender & Short Films: Emerging Female Filmmakers and the Barriers Surrounding their Careers. (full report)
An analysis of director gender at 10 top worldwide festivals, barriers facing female filmmakers, and the content of 115 short films screened at LUNAFEST. Report prepared for LUNAFEST film festival.

Representation of Older Characters in Film

2015: NEW! The Rare & Ridiculed: Senior Citizens in the 100 Top Films of 2015: Read the full report on characters age 60 and over in film. Research conducted in partnership with Humana and the USC Annenberg Center for Public Relations.

Partners

Research and advocacy at this level involves multiple stakeholders. The MDSC Initiative is grateful to our existing sponsors and partners, including Julie Parker Benello, Ann Erickson and Richard Pellett, Mari and Manuel Alba, and The Clif Bar Family Foundation. Interested in supporting the MDSC Initiative? Please contact us for more information or click here to donate .