Stacy L. Smith's research focuses on children's responses to mass media portrayals (television, film, video games) of violence, gender and hypersexuality.
Dr. Smith (Ph.D., University of California, Santa Barbara, 1999) joined the USC Annenberg faculty in the fall of 2003. She has written more than 50 journal articles, book chapters, and reports on content patterns and effects of the media on youth. Further, she has received multiple "top paper" awards for her research from the Instructional Developmental Division of the International Communication Association. In terms of the popular press, Dr. Smith's research has been written about in The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, The Huffington Post, Newsweek, The Hollywood Reporter, Variety, Salon.com, The Boston Globe, and USA Today. She also has a co-edited essay in Maria Shriver's book, A Woman's Nation Changes Everything.
For the last five years, Dr. Smith has been working with a team of undergraduate and graduate students to assess portrayals of males and females in popular media. Over a dozen projects have been completed, assessing gender in films (e.g., 500+ top-grossing movies from 1990 to 2009, 150 academy award best picture nominations from 1977 to 2006), TV shows (e.g., 1,034 children's programs, two weeks of prime time shows), video games (e.g., 60 best selling), and point-of-purchase advertising (e.g., jacket covers of DVDs, video games). Examining over 5,000 characters, a recent study of 122 G, PG, and PG-13 films theatrically released between 2006 and 2009 showed that less than 30% of all speaking characters are girls or women. Put differently, the ratio of males to females on the silver screen is 2.42 to 1. While on screen portrayals are skewed, the percentage of females working behind-the-scenes is even more abysmal. Across 1,565 behind-the-scenes employees from the same 122 films, only 7% of directors, 13% of writers and 20% of producers were female. This translates into a ratio of 4.88 males to every 1 female.