The Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media will be honored with this year’s Governors Award at the Emmys, the Television Academy announced on Monday. The institute, which was founded by Oscar-winning actor Geena Davis in 2004, will be recognized for its work in promoting gender balance and fostering inclusion in the entertainment industry.
First awarded in 1978, the Governors Award “honors an individual, company or organization that has made a profound, transformational and long-lasting contribution to the arts and/or science of television,” according to the Television Academy. Debbie Allen received the honor last year, while Tyler Perry and The Perry Foundation were recognized with the Governors Award, which is approved by the Television Academy’s Board of Governors, in 2020.
In choosing The Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, the TV Academy pointed out the org’s work in advancing the belief that “representation of characters in media should, in aggregate, reflect the population of the world, which is half female and very diverse. They advise the industry that global culture change is especially important for children who need diverse, intersectional representation in the programming they watch so they are not unwittingly taught to absorb unconscious bias.”
Governors Award selection committee co-chair Kim Taylor-Coleman said: “Since 2004, the institute has been fighting for equality and representation, long before it was comfortable to take that stand. The Television Academy is honored to add the organization to the prestigious list of recipients.”
Added committee co-chair Michael Spiller: “The institute’s work continues to result in real-world changes that have an impact far beyond the soundstages and locations we show up at every day.”
As a public data institute, the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media analyzes representations of major marginalized identities on screen including women, people of color, LGBTQIA+ individuals, people with disabilities, older persons (50+) and large-bodied individuals in global film, TV, advertising and gaming.
Through data-driven research, education and advocacy, the org has pushed for change in content development, helping lead an increase in female and diverse characters, the aspirations/occupations of female characters and their dialogue and story development, the TV Academy noted.
“We are incredibly honored to receive this award from the Board of Governors in recognition of our work. We know that in many sectors of our society true gender equality may take many years to achieve, but there’s one space where parity can be reached virtually overnight: on screen,” founder and chair Davis said in a statement.
“Seeing oneself reflected in popular culture is enormously powerful. As we say, ‘If they can see it, they can be it,’” said Madeline Di Nonno, president and CEO.
The Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media will receive the award during the Emmy Awards ceremony on Monday, Sept. 12, airing on NBC and hosted by Kenan Thompson.
Other previous recipients of the Governors Award include “Star Trek,” “American Idol,” William S. Paley, Hallmark Cards Inc., Masterpiece Theater, Comic Relief and PBS.