Women in Animation
Women in Animation (WIA) is a non-profit organization with the purpose of furthering, promoting, and supporting female animators in the art, science and business of animation. WIA has chapters in Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York City, Dublin, Pune, and Toronto. WIA feels that the lack of an equal number of women and men in the animation profession is because, "there has been very little work to intentionally change the status quo." In order to help women enter the animation profession, WIA has created a mentorship program, a voice over group, a scholarship, talks, and events. Marge Dean is the current co-president of WIA along with Kristy Scanlan.
WIA was formed in 1993 by producer and journalist Rita Street. Phyllis Craig was one of the founding members. WIA created a scholarship to honor Craig after her death in 1997. Dean and Scanlan took over as co-presidents of WIA in 2013. Since 2013, the membership of WIA has increased from 120 to 800 active members in January 2015.
Gender Disparity in Animation Industry
Although female animators have come a long way from the time when Disney sent out rejection letters stating, “Women do not do any of the creative work in connection with preparing the cartoons for the screen, as that work is performed entirely by young men”, the climate shift within the animation industry is progressing very slowly. Back in the day, women were mostly employed as inkers by Disney. It wasn’t until 1941, with the outbreak of war, that Disney started training women technically in animation to maintain a pool of workers while the men had all gone to war. Today, according to Los Angeles Magazine, 70% of animation students from CalArts Valencia campus, 66% of animation students from UCLA, and 55% of animation students from USC are all female. Despite the rapidly growing female population studying animation, industry statistics still reflect poorly and far from achieving gender parity. The Animation Guild, I.A.T.S.E. Local 839, is a union representing over 4000 animation artists, writers, and technicians in Los Angeles. Based on its data, in 2015, 20.6% of Guild workers were women. The number increased to 23.2% in 2016, and finally hit the quarter milestone of 25.6% in 2018. While there appears to be an uprising number of female professionals in the industry, a closer look into 2015 statistics in key areas of animation shows only 1% of women were art directors, 3% were directors, and 5% were writers. With the discouraging disparity, Women in Animation has initiated the movement “50/50 by 2025”. The Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, another non-profit devoted to research in gender representation in Media constantly keep tracks of the number of female characters in animated films. With continued efforts, the animation industry will soon close the gender disparity gap and give young talented female animators the opportunities they deserve.
WIA has hosted over 100 events. Examples of some of the events hosted by WIA include: "WIA Conversations" (Tara Strong gave this talk on Nov. 19, 2015), "Voices in the Room", "The WIA Mentorship Experience", as well as many other kinds of events and talks. WIA also has hosted movie screenings, panels, workshops, and "Monthly Networking Mixers".
In 2014, WIA kicked off its first mentoring program, which was open to members of WIA in the Los Angeles area. The mentoring program has continued into the present. The program is intended to help mentees have greater "industry knowledge and access to information through relationships with experienced professionals.
WIA hosts various activities and efforts aimed at raising awareness of women in the animation industry. In 2015, WIA hosted a panel on women in animation, presenting such statistics as while 60% of students studying animation in several Los Angeles animation schools are women, only 20% of working animators are content creators, rather than support staff.
On November 22, 2015, WIA had a booth and a talk at the CTN Animation Expo. People interested in WIA signed their names on a huge poster featuring their logo behind their booth. Floyd Norman also showed his support for WIA by signing his name on the poster. The subject of the discussion of the talk at CTN was “50/50 by 2025” (#5050by2025) which discussed the subject of getting the ratio of female to male animators working in the industry to 50% (equal) by the year 2025. Another goal of 50/50 by 2025 is to "bring about more varied and positive representations on screen."
The Phyllis Craig Scholarship Fund (PCSF)
Phyllis Craig was the founding member of WIA. Her death inspired the creation of an annual $1,000 scholarship fund in her honor. Craig was, “known throughout the animation industry for her commitment to young people interested in learning the art and techniques of animation". The deadline for the scholarship is April 29, of each year (Craig's birthday).
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