Disney Will Now Spellcheck All Their Scripts For Gender Bias

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Walt Disney Studios is taking further steps to improve representation in their films, partnering with the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media to deploy a digital tool that will “spellcheck” for bias in new scripts.

Davis herself revealed these plans during a closing keynote speech at the New Zealand Power of Inclusion Summit. According to THR, the actress of Thelma and Louise and A League of Their Own fame explained that the tool will make use of patented machine learning technology to analyze scripts to determine the number of male and female characters, and judge whether or not the text is representative of the real population at large.

Davis expressed her excitement in collaborating with Disney over the next year, before inviting other companies to get in contact:

“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 to 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.”

As well as counting the number of characters belonging to different genders and ethnicities in a given screenplay, Spellcheck for Bias will be able to keep track of the number of speaking lines that each group has, along with the sophistication of their vocabulary and their relative positions of power within the script.

Davis stressed that the goal of the tool is not to “shame and blame” writers, but instead to identify and address the unconscious bias that comes through in their work. From here, it’s said that creators will be able to make informed adjustments to avoid perpetuating negative stereotypes.

The partnership with Disney is an extension of the work carried out by the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media since its founding in 2004. In the last fifteen years, the organization has commissioned a variety of studies analyzing representation gaps in entertainment, and assessing how these different forms of imbalance can shape the expectations, aspirations and prejudices of various groups.

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