Wonder Woman boosts girls' self esteem, study finds

Young female fans feel more confident when they see on screen heroes who look like them, a study reveals. Bring on more Captain Marvel and female Time Lords.

Bonnie Burton
Journalist Bonnie Burton writes about movies, TV shows, comics, science and robots. She is the author of the books Live or Die: Survival Hacks, Wizarding World: Movie Magic Amazing Artifacts, The Star Wars Craft Book, Girls Against Girls, Draw Star Wars, Planets in Peril and more! E-mail Bonnie.
Bonnie Burton
2 min read
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Jodie Whittaker plays the first ever female Doctor on Doctor Who.


The worlds of sci-fi and superheroes are still dominated by men, but more female-led geeky movies and TV shows seem to be in demand by both boys and girls, according to a new study.

And, most importantly, seeing women on screen helps boost self-esteem.

On Monday,  BBC America and the Women's Media Center published data from their joint study, which looks at how the depictions of women on screen impact young women and girls. The study is part of BBC America's Galaxy of Women Initiative, which aims to expand both the diversity and representation of women in media.

Surveying 2,431 girls and boys ages 5 to 19 last summer, the study titled "SuperPowering Girls: Female Representation in the Sci-Fi/Superhero Genre" found that every demographic desired more female leads in sci-fi and superhero movies and TV shows. 

The data also suggested young girls feel more confident when they see on-screen heroes who look like them.

Characters such as Wonder WomanCaptain MarvelPrincess Leia, and the first female Doctor in Doctor Who could help boost self-confidence in young girls watching their adventures.

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One of the findings from the new study shows that girls want more female role models who are both relatable and strong.

Women's Media Center

"If you can't see her, you can't be her," BBC America president Sarah Barnett said in a statement. "It's time to expand what gets seen, and we hope this report will contribute to sparking change in the stories we see on screen. With greater representation of female heroes in the sci-fi and superhero genre, we can help superpower the next generation of women."

Other findings include a 23-point gender gap between teen boys and girls with regards to interest in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) careers; and that one in three teens agree that girls have fewer opportunities than boys to be leaders.

Teen girls who took the survey also revealed that they are significantly less likely than teen boys to describe themselves as confident, brave and heard.

"We know that representation matters, as evidenced by this report," Women's Media Center President Julie Burton said in a statement. "Our research found that female sci-fi and superhero characters help bridge the confidence gap for girls, making them feel strong, brave, confident, inspired, positive, and motivated."

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