Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Fifty Percent

I was pleased to give a lecture up at Cal Arts today. The small class to which I spoke was fifty percent male, fifty percent female. So standing there I thought of this:

A while ago I was talking to a person who works at one of these animation schools, often metioned here on this subject. The number of female applicants is far lower than the males. He wishes more women applied.

And it's unrealistic to expect that studios had a 1:1 female to male ratio, based on this fact.

It just seems to me females don't really consider animation as a good career.

And I asked: "How many women are in the Cal Arts Animation department? ...

And the answer I got was, 50%.

Now, I didn't run up to the registrar's office and cross-check the numbers. But students and teacher told me it was half.

And given that, the numbers we put up here in January re female employment in animation (directors - 15%; layout - 17.8%; model designers - 15.4%; storyboard 13.3%, visual development - 9.4%) seem a teensy bit ... out of alignment.


Anonymous said...

You know a lot of women decide to raise a family. You see, if they choose to do that, its not necessarily a bad thing. Its why a lot of actresses disappear from hollywood when they get into their thirties. They aren't being kept out.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

To be fair, thats 50% at Cal Arts now, in 2009. I wonder how it looked in the 80's? How will the industry look in 2020?

Even if ONLY females were hired from now until 2020, it'd probably barely be a 50-50 ratio at feature studios.

Anonymous said...

Hey, let's talk about something topical, like,... our pending IATSE contract! That would be a good update. Nikki's again busy trouncing our lack of LA labor spine!

We're all brothers in labor! Can you just feel the love?

Anonymous said...

I teach at a couple of colleges in NorCal, and I've noticed over the last couple of years that the percentage of women in my classes is on the rise. At one school this year it's over 50%. Admittedly, it's a very small sample, but the trend is noteworthy.

Anonymous said...

At CalArts in the early 80's, my class had five women out of a class of around twenty-five.

Anonymous said...

Rubik's numbers are almost the same as the numbers in the school I went to about ten years ago. diferent school though.

Now, the ratio of females to males, in the school I went to, has increased. I have a hunch,it will take some time before this trend will be aligned with industry numbers.

Still, I don't think this has anything to do with gender biases when hiring at all. Studios want the best talent, period.

That said, some women in the idustry DO get preferential treatment sometimes, especialy if they are, shall we say, very attractive. Perhaps is because there are so few of them in the studio?....

Anonymous said...

Truer words have never been spoken. For every rare case of a producer or director discriminating against a woman because of their gender, there is a sexual sycophant leaping ahead of more talented coworkers.

Anonymous said...

I like the last two guys' theory -- women get preferential treatment, and therefore leave the industry.

It makes perfect sense that getting preferential treatment leads to fewer women making it in animation.

Anonymous said...

I never said that!
Way to jump to conclusions!


Steve Hulett said...

I could have put this in the other post re Cal Arts, but I told the class that, based on what I see, based on our stats, there is a tilt against women.

It's not conscious or purposeful (in most cases), and it's way better than it used to be, but it's still there.

Anonymous said...

What stats?
There are numerous posts outlining how the trend is changing and the source of the male dominated industry was a mostly male workforce entering it. The issue is more complicated than you make it(you are never the one to not fabricate a delicious scandal after all).

Lets see: The workforce isn't evenly split amongst the sexes so there must be a bias at hand. Hmmm.

*I got my car worked on last week and there weren't ANY girls working at the garage.

*I looked at houses last year and of the 9 realtors i dealt with, none were male.

*When I lived in NYC, I worked with the Children's Television Workshop and there isn't a single man who works for that company.

*I used to work in construction before i went to college and of all the companies I worked for, not a single woman was on the workforce.

*Of all the yoga teachers I have had, only one has ever been male.

*The overwhelming majority of firefighters in LA county are male.

All of the above experiences I have had illustrate a world where there is a disparity of interests among the genders...
OR by your qualifications for a "biased tilt", we see that the world is overwhelmingly sexist and unfair.

Because there is no difference among the sexes apparently. we are all interchangable entities with no predispositions towards differing interests. You've gridded it all out Steve! I never realized you could uncover a miscarriage of justice with such limited information.

We should all be glad your giant brain is heading up the collective workforce. Geena Davis would be proud!

Anonymous said...

I must chime in to the fact that the 50-50 ratio seems to be holding true at the Savannah College of Art and Design (both in their Savannah and Atlanta campuses). (I teach at their Atlanta campus.)

Steve, it would be interesting to see what residual prejudice against women still holds outside L.A., especially in smaller regional studios.

Anonymous said...

"You know a lot of women decide to raise a family. You see, if they choose to do that, its not necessarily a bad thing. "

Virtually all the women I've worked with in 20 years of the business have had a family they were raising as well as working. With actual kids. And yet still they work. I guess they really do love their animation jobs as much as guys do. Go figure.

That said women are still way outnumbered by men. The numbers seem to be pretty much the percentages quoted above. But no, there's no such thing as any bias-why, if anything the really cute ones get too much of a break?

Anonymous said...

to the last post:

So, you want feature studios to hire females,wether they have the talent or not, to be hired, solely on the fact that they are females, in order to make it a 50:50 situation?


What about the fact that in other fields, men also outnumber women? or vice versa?

how do you explain that?

the word "discrimination" is often missused, and I think that is what's happening here.

Studios look at your portfolio/reel first.

Studios should hire you based on your skills and qualification, not your gender, or who you know. I do agree that sometimes there are questionable instances, like, the buddy system. That happens, but it's hard to prove it.

Geena Davis will only be happy when society is run like a beehive, with her as the queen bee...


Anonymous said...

r., you're the only one using the word 'discrimination,' so I don't see how it is being misused, unless you're the one misusing it. Steve has posted simple statistics, which show a clear bias. That bias may in part be due to hiring discrimination. It may also be due to other factors.

You're the one jumping to conclusions, and smearing people like Geena Davis or the anonymous poster above with beliefs that you've made up.

Steve (and others) think the fact that lots of women train for careers in animation, while few (to this date) actually have careers in animation, is interesting, and worth pondering. You're happy with the status quo. Fine. Just stop with the straw man creation.

Anonymous said...

It has been implied that there is discrimination going on, not only on this thread, but on others before.

And I do agree that it used to happen ages ago, I remember the post with the rejection letter Disney sent to a female artist.

What is NOT clear to me, is that there is this "bias" going on right now. Sure the numbers between college and industry numbers don;t match, but, you're deriving a correlation from this discrepancy. Yes, there's less women working in the industry.

Again, you want studios hiring females based on their gender or their talent?

Would it be fair for somebody, with the talent, to be passed on because he happens to be male, because the studio has to fullfill a quota? You never answered the question.

And about miss Davis...I had hoped the paragraph was ludicrous enough to be understood that it was a joke...

Anonymous said...

"Steve has posted simple statistics, which show a clear bias."

They show nothing of the sort. If you really believe that the animation industry is sexist in its hiring practices, then your evidence must be substantially more than a disparity in gender. A disparity in gender occurs in all fields with all different breakdowns.

You are in over your head with this discussion as you haven't even attempted to provide evidence that proves anything. The onus is on you to do so.

We'll wait.

Steve Hulett said...

What stats?
There are numerous posts outlining how the trend is changing and the source of the male dominated industry was a mostly male workforce entering it. The issue is more complicated than you make it(you are never the one to not fabricate a delicious scandal after all) ...

We should all be glad your giant brain is heading up the collective workforce. Geena Davis would be proud!

Ah. So angry, so defensive.

I've been in the business since '76. I visit most of the major studios, talk to hundreds of people.

The union compiles employment stats. (See above.) Women give testimony ... on the blog, in person.

You -- whoever you are, and you could be some freaking eighteen-year-old in an Iowa basement, who the fuck knows -- says it's all bogus, the stats don't exist, I'm creating some sort of "scandal" where there isn't any.

Just so I'm clear -- because it's always neat to argue against an anoymous person who offers no sources, no statistics, no proof of anything except that it's all "more complicated" than I make it out to be -- here's the deal.

There is no scandal. There is no controvervsy. There is only the numbers posted here and earlier, along with my opinion that there is a tilt toward males in hiring.

This seems to throw you into a sputtering rage. Why, I'm not sure. I'm just a thick-witted union thug who knows nothing.

Except how to put up specific numbers that never get refuted by anything except insults.

Anonymous said...

that there is a tilt toward males in hiring.

More males are hired because more males apply.

That trend is obviously changing since the schools are seeing more women (in the 80's it was 1:5 women/men ratio and now its closer to 50:50, according to the info in these comments) but it will take a while for that to be reflected in the workforce, right? Surely we all understand it wont happen overnight.

Overall, I dont think "bias" is the appropriate term to use in this case. http://www.thefreedictionary.com/bias

a. A preference or an inclination, especially one that inhibits impartial judgment.
b. An unfair act or policy stemming from prejudice.

Based on these definitions, you'd have to prove that men are hired over women with the same skill set, and I just dont believe thats happening, based on my experiences at the several feature studios Ive worked in.

At the studio Im currently at (another large feature studio) I participate in reel review. We show no gender bias at all in the reels we approve and do not approve. Its 100% based on the work. Thats it. In fact, most times we dont know what gender the applicants are, seeing how we dont even look at the resumes, and fast forward through the title card.

Steve Hulett said...

Fine. You've laid out your reasoning, and supported it with specifics.

And you could be right. I don't know every department and what the hiring practices are in each.

And I think things are improving (as I've stated). But I still don't think it's a level playing field, and I think the ratios in studios and art schools tend to back that view up.

But at the end, it's just my opinion. There's no laws being broken and no scandal. And you're certainly entitled to haviving a different outlook.

Anonymous said...

Just to be clear, I wasnt the mean-spirited anonymous you replied to earlier...Im sure you have a way of tracking IP's, so you probably already know that. I did, however, make the 3rd anonymous post.

We need to start commenting with a name more often, just so we can keep our comments straight...

Anonymous said...

What's the percentage of female/male animation writers? Just curious.

Steve Hulett said...

Women writers: 18 out of 158. Equals 11.4%.

To g: I didn't think you were mean-spirited anon.

And you're right, having people register with names would be better, but usually it's not super necessary. And it might dissuade some from posting their snark. (Wouldn't want that, would we?)

We could also pre-screen, but that seems like too much work. I kind of don't want to make blogging a 24/7 career. I'm funny that way.

Anonymous said...

Hmm, I know quite a few women who have left the industry in the last few years - women who had "made it" by getting a job at Disney or DreamWorks...some who were even considered for directing jobs at the same studios... and who ultimately left the biz because they were tired of hitting their heads on the glass ceiling. They ended up going out of state & either freelancing or switching industries. None of them seem to regret it, even though they all get paid less than they used to - they have more control over their lives and are able to live closer to their loved ones. Would they have stayed if they felt truly valued? Maybe.

It was a lot harder for them to live their lives - get married, have kids, etc. and keep their careers going than it was for their male colleagues. Different societal expectations & also, much less support at work for taking time off to have a kid, etc.

And there just weren't enough women out there in position to help other women. You think the "old boy" network doesn't exist? Just call it the "boy" network. Guys are good about helping their friends get hired.

But maybe things are changing. Look at Sony. They've made an effort to hire women & have a woman director right now - and it's her second film for them (Jill Culton).

And more women are coming into tv and other feature houses ... so hey, maybe in 10 years or so, we'll see better numbers overall.

Anonymous said...

Anon@6:35, excellent comment.

To those who are upset with any suggestion that HIRING practices are biased: I believe that artists are mostly if not entirely hired based on the reel. But that's not the thing I wonder about.
The numbers can't lie: there's a heavy imbalance of men-to-women for whatever reasons. That said does anyone else wonder what that makes the workplace like for those women who do work in animation in those 13%, 11%, and 14% classifications?
That there may well be daily and longterm issues that the 11% deal with that never come up for the guys? Can we agree that the guys deal with a lot of job stress in animation that the women share plus exclusions that not being male create?

There aren't any salves/fixes for this stuff but it's worth being aware of and noting, anyway.

Anonymous said...

Its worth noting that executives in animation - you know, senior positions as producers and those in development - are MOSTLY WOMEN.

Steve maybe you can rub elbows with someone and present those figures. And the average salaries of the female executives in the industry.

I've worked in the industry for 20 years and it has always been mostly women who helm projects from the executives chairs.

Anonymous said...

I've worked in the industry for 20 years and it has always been mostly women who helm projects from the executives chairs.

That's been mostly true of TV rather than in features, but TV or film it's meant absolutely nothing for the women who are 839 members-zip, nada, zilch. And the only numbers discussed here or that matter to me are those of the artists, not the execs. If anything what that shows is how removed from the rank & file realities the doings of the executives are.

Btw all those female execs always answer to male bosses. Even Amy Pascal works for John Calley.

Steve Brown said...

Speaking of assumptions, it seems R. believes that if hiring were really based solely on reels or ability, that would explain the gender disparity. I guess that means he also believes women are somehow constitutionally less artistically gifted than men? And the employment disparity somehow proves that?

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