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International Women's Day

Women and film

The Bechdel Test, developed by Alison Bechdel in 1985, is a useful measure to start analysing the representation of women in films and identifying gender bias. In order for a film to pass the test, it must feature at least two women who talk to each other about something other than a man. Here is a list of ten well-known films that fail this test and why.

As well as exploring the representation of female characters in film, another way to commemorate International Women’s Day is to celebrate the successes of individual, high-achieving women who offer students positive role models and inspiration.

Here are some ideas from the world of film to get you started:


  • Helena Bonham Carter
  • Judi Dench
  • Keira Knightley
  • Helen Mirran
  • Sophie Okonedo
  • Freida Pinto
  • Kristin Scott Thomas
  • Emma Thompson
  • Kate Winslet


  • Andrea Arnold
  • Kathryn Bigelow
  • Jane Campion
  • Gurinder Chadha
  • Lynne Ramsay
  • Sam Taylor-Woodg

Activities could include:

  • Researching and presenting biographical information about one or more of these individuals and emphasising their achievements.
  • Writing a letter to one or more of these people explaining how you are learning about them during International Women’s Day and inviting them to visit your school to share their story in a whole school assembly.
  • Presenting findings on the Bechdel Test to your class, or a whole school or year assembly. Perhaps include recommendations of films that pass the test.