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 TV, 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 they're 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.

 

Browse Movies That Defy Gender Stereotypes

Mulan Movie Poster Image
Disneyfied but dignified tale of Chinese warrior.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 1998)
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Ferdinand Movie Poster Image
Sweet story about compassion, nonviolence has a few scares.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2017)
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Moana Movie Poster Image
Great characters, memorable music, some monsters/scares.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2016)
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Big Hero 6 Movie Poster Image
Awesome origin story is action-packed, deals with grief.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2014)
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How to Train Your Dragon Movie Poster Image
Thrilling 3D adventure sends brains-over-brawn message.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2010)
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Searching for Bobby Fischer Movie Poster Image
Young chess prodigy learns about sportsmanship.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2002)
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Brave Movie Poster Image
Mother-daughter princess tale has some very scary scenes.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2012)
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The Eagle Huntress Movie Poster Image
Inspiring documentary about barrier-breaking teen girl.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2016)
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Zootopia Movie Poster Image
Charming buddy-animal story promotes tolerance, teamwork.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2016)
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Hidden Figures Movie Poster Image
Inspiring true story of African-American women at NASA.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2016)
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A League of Their Own Movie Poster Image
Terrific story of women's baseball has great messages.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 1992)
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Wonder Movie Poster Image
Earnest, emotional book adaptation has strong messages.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2017)
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Arrival Movie Poster Image
Great, deeply thoughtful, compassionate sci-fi tale.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2016)
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Black Panther Movie Poster Image
Masterful Marvel film has depth, diversity -- and violence.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2018)
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Legally Blonde Movie Poster Image
Fun romp has some sexual references and salty language.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2001)
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Wonder Woman Movie Poster Image
Engaging, entertaining, empowering superhero adventure.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2017)
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Bend It Like Beckham Movie Poster Image
Superb tale of a girl's struggle for her dreams.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2003)
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Billy Elliot Movie Poster Image
Terrific story of young ballet dancer has strong language.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2000)
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The Hunger Games Movie Poster Image
Intense adaptation is violent, thought-provoking for teens.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2012)
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The King's Speech Movie Poster Image
Superb drama about overcoming fears is fine for teens.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2010)
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What's Eating Gilbert Grape? Movie Poster Image
'90s drama about dysfunctional family has mature themes.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 1993)
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Erin Brockovich Movie Poster Image
Legal drama based on a true story has lots of cursing.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2000)
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Moonlight Movie Poster Image
Heartbreaking, mature, unforgettable coming-of-age drama.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2016)
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