Journal of the Indiana Academy of the Social Sciences

Document Type



This study examines the gender ratio of characters in the 150 top-grossing full-length animated films from 1980 through 2016. Results show that males hold an overwhelming majority of both central and auxiliary roles. Male characters fill significantly more of the lead or protagonist roles, the speaking roles, the members of the protagonist’s main gang, and the film’s titles. No significant change has occurred over the years (1980–2016) to alter the gender balance; however, an increase in female authors and screenwriters corresponds with an increase in female characters in all of these roles. The underrepresentation of female characters in animated films exemplifies the ways in which popular media reflects and reproduces social inequality.