Keeping Diversity in Children's Television

Steve Adubato goes One-on-One with Dafna Lemish, PhD, Distinguished Professor & Associate Dean for Programs, School of Communication & Information, Rutgers University, to discuss diversity in children's television and its impact on kids.

9/9/19 #2242






"Welcome to One on One. I'm Steve Adubato. This is our guest. She is Doctor Dafna Lemish, who is a Distinguished Professor at the School of Communication and information at Rutgers University. Which I know very well. Yes you do. You're a graduate of our program. Yeah. We're very proud of that. I will disclose that. [laughter] I barely got out. [laughter] Let's do this. Take a look at this headline from our friends at the Star Ledger. This was reported in a lot of newspapers. "What's on TV? For kids, not much diversity." And that is exactly what we're here to talk about. Doctor, you and your colleagues did a study? Yup. Children's Television in the U.S. and in Canada. And you found some alarming things. Particularly around the lack of diversity. Make the case. Mm hmm. Well, first of all, just to clarify, it's not just the U.S. and Canada. It was an international study. The U.S. and Canada we're just a part of it. So the issue we're talking about is global. International. Well, what we found was that still, the television screens that children are exposed to are dominated by white males from middle class. So... and abled. That's another really important point to emphasize, that you don't see any children with any kind of disability or any kind of health issues. So what we find is that you have a minority of females, which is still amazing. You know, 10 years ago, well... A minority of females in this day and age? Yes. Which is amazing. Because we did a same... similar study ten years ago, and we were sure that now, ten years later, we'll find, you know, equality with everything that we've been discussing about gender equality in the last ten years. Sure. So it moved up from females being 32 percent of all the characters on children's television, to 38 percent. So we have a little progress. But if we wait for this pace of progress, it's going to take another 25 years to get to 50 percent. And how are women... how are girls portrayed, versus boys, in a lot of this programming? So that's... In terms of their power or their ability to get things done? So that's a really important question, because it's not only the number, it's also how they're portrayed. So we know that females, for example, tend to be more followers rather than leaders, they tend to be in groups rather than be loners. The boys are more loners. They're kind of the top of the pyramid. Or, you know, hierar... they compete... Are boys seen more as leaders? Boys are more leaders. Thinkers? Three times as leaders. Also they solve... boys solve problems using STEM. They're using, you know, technology, they're using science, they're using..."