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.

Browse Movies That Defy Gender Stereotypes

 
Dino Dana: The Movie Movie Poster Image
Family focus, awesome dinos make for a Paleo pleasure.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2020)
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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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Frozen 2 Movie Poster Image
Slightly darker sequel charms with catchy songs, messages.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2019)
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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 adventure sends brains-over-brawn message.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2010)
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Red Shoes and the Seven Dwarfs Movie Poster Image
Fun-packed fairy-tale parody challenges stereotypes.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2020)
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Bethany Hamilton: Unstoppable Movie Poster Image
Inspirational docu has themes of perseverance, gratitude.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2019)
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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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Jane Movie Poster Image
Engaging Goodall docu has a little violence, language.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2017)
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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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We Are the Dream: The Kids of the Oakland MLK Oratorical Fest Movie Poster Image
Docu about kids living MLK's legacy gives all the feels.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2020)
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Wolfwalkers Movie Poster Image
Lush, lyrical Irish folktale has dark moments, peril.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2020)
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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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We Are the Radical Monarchs Movie Poster Image
Docu about girls' social justice troop inspires all ages.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2019)
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Captain Marvel Movie Poster Image
Powerful female superhero story has some violence, language.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2019)
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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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I Am Greta Movie Poster Image
Intimate portrayal of global activist has valuable lessons.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2020)
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I'll Push You: A Real-Life Inspiration Movie Poster Image
Touching friendship docu is full of positive messages.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2017)
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Ladies First Movie Poster Image
Inspiring but cautionary docu about woman archer from India.
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(Release Year: 2017)
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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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Little Women (2019) Movie Poster Image
Poignant, beautifully made take on beloved sisterhood tale.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2019)
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Nancy Drew and the Hidden Staircase Movie Poster Image
Sparkling book adaptation has great characters, some scares.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2019)
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RBG Movie Poster Image
RBG
Inspiring, entertaining docu about an American icon.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2018)
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Ride Like a Girl Movie Poster Image
Woman gallops through boundaries in inspiring sports drama.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2020)
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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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Maiden Movie Poster Image
Poignant, thrilling tale of groundbreaking female sailors.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2019)
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Mulan (2020) Movie Poster Image
Martial arts epic is more intense, violent than original.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2020)
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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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A Call to Spy Movie Poster Image
Inspirational story of female WWII spies has war violence.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2020)
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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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Proxima Movie Poster Image
Understated space drama has inspiring female lead, nudity.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2020)
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Wonder Woman Movie Poster Image
Engaging, entertaining, empowering superhero adventure.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2017)
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(In)Visible Portraits Movie Poster Image
Black women explore, challenge life-shaping ideas.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2020)
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Belly of the Beast Movie Poster Image
Mature themes, strong language in prison eugenics docu.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2020)
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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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Boys State Movie Poster Image
Teens make like political pros in insightful documentary.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2020)
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The Broken Hearts Gallery Movie Poster Image
Upbeat heroine anchors whimsical romcom; edgy sex jokes.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2020)
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Crazy Rich Asians Movie Poster Image
Messages, role models stand out in culture-clash romcom.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2018)
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The Half of It Movie Poster Image
Touching, smart teen story deals with sexuality; drinking.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2020)
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The High Note Movie Poster Image
Female-centric music dramedy strikes an entertaining chord.
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(Release Year: 2020)
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The Last Black Man in San Francisco Movie Poster Image
Painful portrait of gentrification in extraordinary indie.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2019)
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Poms Movie Poster Image
Cheers for saucy comedy with multigenerational appeal.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2019)
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Radium Girls Movie Poster Image
Inspiring real-life labor drama has intense moments.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2020)
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Sierra Burgess Is a Loser Movie Poster Image
Engaging teen romcom has underage drinking, language.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2018)
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This Changes Everything (2018) Movie Poster Image
Compelling, entertaining docu about women in film and TV.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2018)
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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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Late Night Movie Poster Image
Light tone, deep messages in female-centric comedy.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2019)
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Little Fish Movie Poster Image
Thought-provoking pandemic romance has smoking, language.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2021)
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Miss Juneteenth Movie Poster Image
Courage, humility, empathy in mother-daughter drama.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2021)
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Ophelia Movie Poster Image
Hamlet gets a feminist update, but violence stays the same.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2019)
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Underwater Movie Poster Image
Kristen Stewart sci-fi survival thriller has scares, swears.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2020)
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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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Black and Blue Movie Poster Image
Strong, ethical heroine elevates violent bad-cop actioner.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2019)
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Black Boys Movie Poster Image
Insightful, earnest docu about racism's toll on Black boys.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2020)
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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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Disclosure Movie Poster Image
Docu frankly depicts trans struggles; language, nudity.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2020)
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The Old Guard Movie Poster Image
Smart female-led action saga has heart; violence, language.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2020)
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A Fantastic Woman Movie Poster Image
Powerful story of trans woman's grief; language, sex, nudity
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2018)
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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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Premature Movie Poster Image
Honest, mature coming-of-age romance dispels myths.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2020)
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