Movies That Defy Gender Stereotypes

Princesses and superheroes are great, and kids -- both boys and girls! -- love them. But child development experts agree that kids need to see a wide range of male and female characters, displaying a range of traits, behaviors, and beliefs, in the media they consume. Why? When kids see stereotyped gender roles portrayed over and over in movies and on television, it can affect the way they think about themselves and what they can grow up to be. Our own research review shows that these messages are aligned to periods in kids' development when kids are most receptive to their influence -- which makes it even clearer that it's important to look for positive gender portrayals in our kids' media.

These are some of our favorite movies that do just that. For even more great ideas, check out these lists: TV Shows That Defy Gender Stereotypes, Best Smart Movie Girls, and Movies with Incredible Role Models for Boys.

Dino Dana: The Movie Poster Image
MOVIE

Dino Dana: The Movie

age 5+

Family focus, awesome dinos make for a Paleo pleasure.

On DVD/Streaming (Release Year: 2020)
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Mulan Poster Image
MOVIE

Mulan

age 5+

Disneyfied but dignified tale of Chinese warrior.

On DVD/Streaming (Release Year: 1998)
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Eddie's Million Dollar Cook-Off Poster Image
MOVIE

Eddie's Million Dollar Cook-Off

age 6+

Disney family comedy tackles gender stereotypes.

On DVD/Streaming (Release Year: 2003)
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Ferdinand Poster Image
MOVIE

Ferdinand

age 6+

Sweet story about compassion, nonviolence has a few scares.

On DVD/Streaming (Release Year: 2017)
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Frozen 2 Poster Image
MOVIE

Frozen 2

age 6+

Slightly darker sequel charms with catchy songs, messages.

On DVD/Streaming (Release Year: 2019)
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Moana Poster Image
MOVIE

Moana

age 6+

Great characters, memorable music, some monsters/scares.

On DVD/Streaming (Release Year: 2016)
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Big Hero 6 Poster Image
MOVIE

Big Hero 6

age 7+

Awesome origin story is action-packed, deals with grief.

On DVD/Streaming (Release Year: 2014)
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How to Train Your Dragon Poster Image
MOVIE

How to Train Your Dragon

age 7+

Thrilling adventure sends brains-over-brawn message.

On DVD/Streaming (Release Year: 2010)
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Red Shoes and the Seven Dwarfs Poster Image
MOVIE

Red Shoes and the Seven Dwarfs

age 7+

Fun-packed fairy-tale parody challenges stereotypes.

On DVD/Streaming (Release Year: 2020)
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Bethany Hamilton: Unstoppable Poster Image
MOVIE

Bethany Hamilton: Unstoppable

age 8+

Inspirational docu has themes of perseverance, gratitude.

On DVD/Streaming (Release Year: 2019)
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Brave Poster Image
MOVIE

Brave

age 8+

Mother-daughter princess tale has some very scary scenes.

On DVD/Streaming (Release Year: 2012)
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The Eagle Huntress Poster Image
MOVIE

The Eagle Huntress

age 8+

Inspiring documentary about barrier-breaking teen girl.

On DVD/Streaming (Release Year: 2016)
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Jane Poster Image
MOVIE

Jane

age 8+

Engaging Goodall docu has a little violence, language.

On DVD/Streaming (Release Year: 2017)
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Searching for Bobby Fischer Poster Image
MOVIE

Searching for Bobby Fischer

age 8+

Young chess prodigy learns about sportsmanship.

On DVD/Streaming (Release Year: 2002)
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We Are the Dream: The Kids of the Oakland MLK Oratorical Fest Poster Image
MOVIE

We Are the Dream: The Kids of the Oakland MLK Oratorical Fest

age 8+

Docu about kids living MLK's legacy gives all the feels.

On DVD/Streaming (Release Year: 2020)
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Wolfwalkers Poster Image
MOVIE

Wolfwalkers

age 8+

Lush, lyrical Irish folktale has dark moments, peril.

On DVD/Streaming (Release Year: 2020)
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Zootopia Poster Image
MOVIE

Zootopia

age 8+

Charming buddy-animal story promotes tolerance, teamwork.

On DVD/Streaming (Release Year: 2016)
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We Are the Radical Monarchs Poster Image
MOVIE

We Are the Radical Monarchs

age 9+

Docu about girls' social justice troop inspires all ages.

On DVD/Streaming (Release Year: 2019)
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Captain Marvel Poster Image
MOVIE

Captain Marvel

age 10+

Powerful female superhero story has some violence, language.

On DVD/Streaming (Release Year: 2019)
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Hidden Figures Poster Image
MOVIE

Hidden Figures

age 10+

Inspiring true story of African-American women at NASA.

On DVD/Streaming (Release Year: 2016)
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