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WIA Addresses Gender Disparity in Animation at Annecy 2015

Women In Animation co-presidents Marge Dean and Kristy Scanlan present findings and host a panel discussion with advisory board members Bonnie Arnold, Margie Cohn, Lenora Hume and Adina Pitt on the state of women in animation.

ANNECY, FRANCE -- In line with the Annecy International Animation Festival’s theme this year of “honoring women,” non-profit professional organization Women in Animation (WIA) hosted a program this week aptly titled “Women in Animation” at the Imperial Palace Hotel. The presentation and panel discussion included WIA Advisory Board members Bonnie Arnold, Margie Cohn, Lenora Hume and Adina Pitt as well as WIA co-president Kristy Scanlan and WIA chairpersons Jinko Gotoh and Tracy Campbell, with moderation by WIA co-president Marge Dean.

“Having a presence at Annecy this year has given us the amazing opportunity to meet the women who have made a name for themselves in a largely male-driven industry, and to learn from their perspective and experience,” says Scanlan.

“We have been collecting statistics from studios and schools around the world which show that women dominate art schools but then only make up about 20% of the creative work force,” adds Dean. “We used this ratio as a launching point for today’s program, and then talked about what we’re doing to rectify the situation.”

‘Women in Animation’ panel at Annecy 2015 included WIA Advisory Board members Bonnie Arnold, Margie Cohn, Lenora Hume and Adina Pitt as well as WIA Co-President Kristy Scanlan and WIA Chairpersons Jinko Gotoh and Tracy Campbell, with moderation by WIA Co-President Marge Dean.

WIA board members performed various surveys and gathered data to inform themselves of the most recent ratios in the workforce. WIA discovered that according to a survey of several LA-based animation schools and statistics gathered by the Animation Guild (TAG, Local 839 IATSE), in 2015:

  • 60% of all animation students are women
  • 20% of all animation creatives are women

For some historical perspective, here are additional percentages:

  • In 2006, men made up 84% of the animation workforce, whereas roles filled by women total 16%
  • In 2015, men make up 80% and roles filled by women still only total 20%

“We know there are many roles that women can play in animation, but we wanted to highlight specific areas in our discussion today,” Dean explains. “We can see that there are very few women who are creatively leading animated productions and need to address that imbalance.”

Case in point, the survey revealed that in the last five years, only three animated features in the U.S. and two in France have had a woman director, and those were only as part of male/female directing teams. In the past 15 years, there have only been two solo woman directors of U.S. produced animated features -- Jennifer Yuh Nelson for Kung Fu Panda 2 (2011) and Jun Falkenstein for The Tigger Movie (2000). To further support these concerns, the breakdown of women’s roles in various creative positions in animation today are as follows, according to the Animation Guild:

  • 10% of all producer/directors are women
  • 17% of all writers are women
  • 21% of all art/designers are women
  • 23% of all animators are women

These are all average numbers, mainly focused on Los Angeles-based studios, both large and small.

WIA has also found that the numbers are similar in Canada: among eight studios between Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal, only 16 -18% of the creative roles are currently filled by women. In France, the Centre National de la cinématographie et de l'image Animee (CNC) released the following ratios related to 54 television series financed in 2014:

  • Women scriptwriters: Based on a total of 233 scriptwriters, 54 were women (23%)
  • Women directors: Based on a total of 82 directors, 16 were women (20%)

Also, according to Réseau des écoles françaises de cinéma d'animation (RECA), the network of French animation schools, women average 50.14% of the student body across 25 different animation programs.

“There is a lot of promise for increasing the role of women in the animation industry simply based on the increased number of women studying animation at the college level,” Dean concludes. “But we've learned from experience that an increase in student enrollment alone will not change the employment numbers. This is ultimately going to take awareness, training, support and courage for women to step out and have their voices heard. We so admire those who can say ‘here's my voice, this is what I think, this is me.’ WIA will continue to encourage women in the industry to be brave enough to say this to others.”

Source: Women in Animation

Jennifer Wolfe's picture

Formerly Editor-in-Chief of Animation World Network, Jennifer Wolfe has worked in the Media & Entertainment industry as a writer and PR professional since 2003.