She-Ra and the Princesses of Power and GLOW actress Geena Davis has announced a parternership between her Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media and Walt Disney Studios to introduce new AI technology to assess the potential gender bias of film and television scripts.
The new tool, named the GD-IQ: Spellcheck for Bias, “leverages patented machine learning technology developed at the University of Southern California Viterbi School of Engineering to rapidly analyze the text of a script to determine its number of male and female characters and whether they are representative of the real population at large.” It “also can discern the numbers of characters who are people of color, LGBTQI, possess disabilities or belong to other groups typically underrepresented and failed by Hollywood storytelling.” Finally, it “can assess the number of speaking lines the various groups have, the level of sophistication of the vocabulary they use and the relative social status or positions of power assigned to the characters by group” according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Davis announced the partnership at the recent Power of Inclusion Summit, “a global summit where 60+ international and local voices will share their stories, experiences and expertise to generate momentum for a future where representation and inclusion are the new industry standards” held in Auckland, New Zealand.
On stage during the announcement, Davis stated she was “excited about the possibilities with this new technology”:
“I’m very proud to announce we have a brand new partnership with Walt Disney Studios using Spell Check for Bias. They are our pilot partners and we’re going to collaborate with Disney over the next year using this tool to help their decision-making, identify opportunities to increase diversity and inclusion in the manuscripts that they receive. We’re very excited about the possibilities with this new technology and we encourage everybody to get in touch with us and give it a try.”
Davis claims that the goal of the Spellcheck for Bias is not to “shame and blame” creators for failing to meet these standards, but to enact change in an industry where “last year just eight percent of the top 250 films were directed by women.” Davis believes that this tool “can make this change happen very fast.”
“Nearly every sector of our society has a huge gender disparity, particularly in leadership positions,” she continued. “So how long is it going to take to correct that, to reach parity? 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.”
“But here’s my theory of change. There’s one category of gross gender inequality where the underrepresentation of women can be fixed absolutely overnight — and it’s onscreen. The very next project somebody makes — the next movie, TV show — can be gender-balanced. We can make this change happen very fast. 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. How are we possibly going to get the number of women and girls interested in STEM careers that we need for science, technology, engineering and math? There can be droves of women in STEM careers now on TV and in movies, and then it will happen in real life.”
It is currently unknown which Disney films will be the first to be analyzed.