Monday, May 07, 2012

Not Really

DreamWorks Animation's Gail Currey says:

... We are seeing more women enter the field of animation with the technological foundation you need. I think women have always been well represented in the specifics of the painting and drawing and even the storytelling piece, but we're seeing more on the technology side. ...

Well, it's pretty to think so. But I've got news. Three years ago TAG's employment data was as follows:

Women in Animation (2009)

directors - 15%

layout - 17.8%

model designers - 15.4%

storyboard - 13.3%

visual development - 9.4%

Sorry, Ms. Currey. Women are under-represented. With the exception of ink-and-paint and checking positions, women have been a tiny fraction of the cartoon work-force for decades.

(A few additional bits of data here, here, and here.)

Besides the union stats, I walk around studios on a daily basis and I can tell you, there are way more men doing art than women. It's the way animation is ... and has been. (Happily, women are coming into positions from which they were previously absent or chronically under-represented.)

Ms. Currey's quote above is upbeat but, sadly, incorrect.


Alice Marie said...

...this gave me an error the first time. Hope it doesn't double post.

Any chance we can get some updated data regarding women in the union?

Floyd Norman said...

"Have the girl get me some coffee."

How many times did I hear that during the early days of my career?

The old boys club, continues.

Steve Hulett said...

Any chance we can get some updated data regarding women in the union?

We'll get some data up in the next couple of days.

I sometimes encounter a bit of denial about the statistics, offering any number of reasons why women "don't like" the industry.

I phoned Cal Arts sometime back to find out if the "not liking" part also held true with animation schools. Apparently the school hasn't gotten the memo, because it told me that half of the students in their animation program are women.

Pete Emslie said...

The good news is, things might be starting to improve, Steve. I've been an instructor at Sheridan for about nine years now, and I've seen a big difference in the number of girls entering the Animation program since I first started teaching there. Early on, there were but a handful of girls on average in each class of approximately 25 students. The numbers have steadily risen since then, and the last couple of years the girls have made up slightly more than half of most classes.

They also are starting to excel in more areas than ever before. I don't wish to sound sexist, but I believe that the girls and the guys, generally speaking, think differently from each other when approaching an assignment. Guys tend to be more spontaneous, which can result in highly entertaining work, yet oftentimes ungainly in design and sloppy in the execution. The girls are generally more meticulous, with more flair for appealing visual design and structure.

When it comes to seeing their actual animated films in their final year, the guys will often go for broader, wackier humour, and also gravitate towards more action-based themes. The girls on the other hand, seem to be more willing to explore the human condition, and create films of great poignancy with much thought into how a character thinks and feels.

Again, I'm generalizing with this analysis, and I'd stress that there are exceptions on both sides. However, I believe that with the greater number of girls entering and graduating from the various college animation programs currently, that at some point those numbers will have to start being reflected in the studio employment statistics. Personally, I'm very proud of our girls at Sheridan and I'm hoping to see more of them at work in the industry in the coming years.

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