The creative staff of Disney TV Animation's "Star vs. the Forces of Evil" shows the bigger role that women play in today's animation industry. The creative staff of Disney TV Animation's "Star vs. the Forces of Evil" shows the bigger role that women play in today's animation industry.
Artist RightsIdeas/CommentaryPixar

Crashing the Boy’s Club: Women Speak Out About Gender Inequality in Animation

On Friday, Buzzfeed published one of the more important pieces of animation journalism that you’re going to read this year — or any year for that matter: “Inside The Persistent Boys Club Of Animation.”

The no-holds-barred 4,800-word piece written by Ariane Lange sheds unprecedented light on the challenges faced by women who work in the animation industry, from outright sexual harassment to more subtle forms of discrimination that prevent women from receiving the same kind of advancement opportunities afforded to male counterparts. The strength of Lange’s piece comes from its thoroughness; she spoke to a good sample of industry artists, representing a diverse array of professionals from the last five decades, working throughout TV and feature animation.

With the exception of Glen Keane, few institutions or individuals come across well in the piece. Here’s recent CalArts grad Sabrina Cotugno speaking about her experience at the lauded animation school:

According to Cotugno, CalArts subtly encourages men in story and women in design. Her classes were generally gender-balanced, yet it was “primarily guys who would get known for being great storytellers,” she said over Skype. Female students would be rewarded for color or graphic choices, which Cotugno termed “the pretty part.” “Many women would start out thinking they wanted to storyboard and decide against it, saying, ‘I can’t really articulate why but I just don’t feel good about it.’” It happened to Cotugno: She abandoned storyboarding after feeling alienated by the aggressively masculine behavior she encountered. In an email, Cotugno said the actual incidents were subtle. “It would be so easy for guys to say, ‘You’re exaggerating,’ or ‘You’re overreacting, that was nothing,’” she explained. It was only after college that Cotugno fell back into storyboarding professionally — and realized that it wasn’t storyboarding she didn’t like, it was story bros. Even now, working on a show with people she likes and, she noted, a male showrunner who took a chance on her despite her inexperience, it sometimes gets uncomfortable to be outnumbered. “I’m always the one like, Oh, here’s the queer feminist, gotta say her social issues again.

Legendary animation director Ralph Bakshi doesn’t do well either, thanks to two former employees who speak openly about the 76-year-old artist:

[W]hen [Joanna] Romersa was working at the studio of animation pioneer Ralph Bakshi as a secretary and production manager in the ’70s, she “used to think Ralph was mad at me if he didn’t pat my butt or pinch my boob. … Bakshi was a bastard.” A second artist who worked at Bakshi’s studio in the ’70s and ’80s did not remember him physically touching his female employees, but did say he frequently made remarks to her “that would be considered sexual harassment now.” The former employee, who asked to remain anonymous, said Bakshi would offer to have sex with her in his office, and when she would decline, he would laugh it off as if it were a joke. “It made you wonder who actually did take him up,” she said, adding that whenever a woman got a promotion or a desirable credit on a project, other artists would assume that woman had performed sexual favors for Bakshi…Still, she said she was grateful for the opportunity: Bakshi was one of the few studio heads who would hire women at all.

Multiple artists also chide Pixar, including former story artist Emma Coats, who reveals she left the studio over the studio’s poor treatment of Brave director Brenda Chapman, a story that Cartoon Brew exclusively broke in 2010:

Ziah Fogel, who specialized in crowds animation at Pixar, said the studio is “very clique-y in general.” She described herself as “a bit aggressive for a female” and said she fit in with her mostly male co-workers because of that. She felt she got preferential treatment because of her ability to fit in to “the drinking culture” and hold forth on whiskey. Other women, she said, could be put off by the “culture of bros.” And if you are put off by it, you might not advance, or you might give up on narrative animation like [Emma] Coats did.

Coats left Pixar — and animation for the most part — mainly because of what happened to [Brave director Brenda] Chapman. “When she was removed from her project, I felt kind of lost,” she said. Because there were no other women directors to look up to, Coats couldn’t tell if the way Chapman was treated was an anomaly or part of a pattern (although hiring exclusively male directors is itself a pattern). “I can’t see why what happened to her wouldn’t happen to me,” Coats said.

None of the individuals or institutions criticized in the piece responded to Buzzfeed’s request for comment. But female industry artists who have read the piece have praised it on Twitter as being reflective of their own experiences:

Among the few criticisms of the piece was offered by Lissa Treiman, a story artist at Disney Feature Animation who wrote in a series of tweets that gender inequality is being addressed at Disney Feature Animation:

While Treiman debates the perspective of the article — is the glass half-full or half-empty? — she doesn’t question its accuracy. That’s because the type of stories in this piece are familiar to everyone involved in the animation industry.

The remarkable thing, though, is that the media is finally paying attention. Last May, the LA Times published a piece on the surge of female enrollment in animation programs, a trend that has been gaining traction for well over a decade now. That piece was of the glass half-full variety, a bit of carefully calculated PR puffery that ignored the realities of the industry, with prominent male industry figures making tone-deaf assertions, such as attributing the uptick in female enrollment at animation schools to films like Brave and Frozen.

The Buzzfeed piece, on the other hand, is a harsher but more realistic view of the historically male-dominated animation industry, revealing the true inequity of the situation. Even today, when women outnumber men at many major animation schools, the pathways to the top of the industry remain a greater challenge for women than men owing to deeply ingrained institutional biases that exist at all the major studios.

We could perhaps criticize the Buzzfeed piece for being incomplete — interviews with eight or so industry artists don’t represent the thousands of viewpoints possible — yet we can also praise it as a step in the right direction. The piece is starting a discussion. For years, no one dared to address gender bias, conscious or not, in the industry — and the media was completely oblivious to the idea that it wasn’t an even playing field for all animation artists.

For example, in 2012, when Cartoon Network had greenlit an animated series by Rebecca Sugar, no media organization or fan coverage recognized that Cartoon Network had never had a solo female creator in the network’s twenty-year history. It was only one month after the announcement of Steven Universe, when I wrote about how it was an ignominious Cartoon Network first that other media organizations picked up on it — first, The Mary Sue and soon everybody else. The mainstream media began writing pieces about Sugar’s trailblazing achievement without questioning the systemic inequality that allowed Cartoon Network to create 20 years of programming without acknowledging the voices of women creators.

The Buzzfeed article is another sign of broad shifts in the industry. Animation is maturing. It is becoming more inclusive as an industry. With a greater variety of stories being told, it is also becoming more interesting as an art form. Equally important, artists are no longer afraid to speak openly about their experiences and point out unfairness when they see it. These are positive and necessary steps toward making animation a healthier and more vibrant industry.

Next month, at Festival by Pixelatl in Mexico, I will be moderating a Women in the Animation Industry panel that will include artists from Mexico, the United States, and Europe. This discussion is, after all, just beginning.

(Top photo: The creative staff of Disney TV Animation’s “Star vs. the Forces of Evil” shows the bigger role that women play in today’s animation industry.)

  • Alex

    I gotta say, even though animation industry in Belarus isn’t exactly strong (apart from Mihail Tumelya), at the very least there is no sexism here. Half of the animation studio of Belarusfilm is female, including directors. And male animators are very respectful towards their female colleagues. So you could say it isn’t that bad here after all

  • Taco

    Prediction… this will be the most commented Cartoon Brew Article for 2015. And it’s about damn time, everyone KNOWS this stuff goes on, and lets not even talk about the general workplace politics that applies on top of all this bias too. The thing that this or the ethnic discrimination articles on the Animation Industry don’t address, and need to in order to give a more well rounded perspective, is that Animation & creative production Jobs are, IN GENERAL, some of the most difficult jobs to hold down for an extended career. Shows finish or are cancelled, being unemployed for a month or more on end is nothing new. Animation can be more akin to working as a building & construction contractor, not to mention the stress (On Family both Financially & Emotionally) of having to consistently
    re-locate to maintain your industry footing. One of the reasons why WHITE YOUNG MEN might be the higher % for the industry, is because “as a general broad blanket statement”, they are often the ones who are afforded the ability to travel & pursue this type of career. Women & non-whites are generally not in the same position of luxury, as they are often not afforded the same patience from family, or from the right financial upbringing to support this career choice long term. And before you assume… this paragraph was written by a Young White Male from a “$upportive” family, so there.

    • Guest

      I assume women will share their experiences, while plenty of guys will viciously deny that any sexism exists (because if female-offensive sexism doesn’t happen to you as a man, it doesn’t happen at all) and insist that only skills matter in this industry. Which is of course ridiculous since every artist with any semblance of success will tell you connections and good words are among the most important things in the art biz or the industry might actually bother looking at talent beyond CalArts.
      I’m also predicting a decent chunk of men giving this some actual thought instead of a kneejerk reaction, because these aren’t Youtube comments.

      • Guest 2

        So you’ve predicted every side that usually forms in these types of debates, how is that insightful or helpful? Instead it just seems to perpetuate what people already think when discussing these issues

        • Daniel Garland

          because that way, we can go beyond that which is perpetuated and form new thoughts and discussions?

    • L_Ron_Hoover

      Do you think it’s just a little odd that women tend to be the victim in everyone one of your scenarios?

      Also, how can you deny a blanket statement with another blanket statement??? “hey are often the ones who are afforded the ability to travel & pursue this type of career” W-w-w-what the what? That has to be the weirdest made-up thing I have ever heard.

      • Guest

        No, you’re right. I’m sure these women and people of color just “PRETENDED” all this was happening for years.

        Not like testimony means anything, it’s all an interconnected conspiracy to keep the white man down.

        • L_Ron_Hoover

          I never denied these things ever happened but great job at trying to make my point into something extreme in order to make me sound like an oblivious racist/sexist. That’s how people debate nowadays, I guess. Demonization and polarization. Know your enemy. Yadda yadda yadda

          Anyways, I will deny that those issues still are an epidemic. I also believe that throughout animation’s history those issues were part of what was going on in America in general. If you lived during that time then you probably would have a different outlook on it. What seems obvious today was not obvious then.

          But go ahead and use the “white male” card because you don’t know how to have a conversation or debate, let alone make a point.

          • Guest

            For starters, the “white male card” you claimed I pulled was used in jest mostly.

            Secondly, you made yourself come off as that when you responded with “Do you think it’s just a little odd that women tend to be the victim in every one of your scenarios?” as if to implicitly say none of them are legitimate nor should be looked at anything meaningful capacity. Do I think you meant it that way? Of course not. But using comments of that nature only serve to bitter attitudes towards the situation.

            Are things as bad as they were in the past? No. Nobody is making that claim and it would be foolish to. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t any problems now, and we have to deal with them accordingly. Acting like they aren’t there or trying to devalue them doesn’t improve anything.

            Now I agree this article was demonizing, but guess what? That’s journalism across the board. You’d be hard pressed to find an article of any kind that doesn’t have some sort of bias attached to it; but that certainly doesn’t negate the points and merits they do have.

            Whether or not an article may of been sensationalized isn’t the point, it’s how you choose you respond to it.

          • L_Ron_Hoover

            “as if to implicitly say none of them are legitimate nor should be looked at anything meaningful capacity”

            Well then, someone is projecting and assuming a lot…Again, you seem to only think in polarized views. You think that if I disagree with what you’re saying then I’m claiming none of it has truth to it. That’s not how you’ll ever get someone to agree with you, you know. There is something called a middle-ground or a mutual understanding.

            Anyways, obviously sexism and racism exist and were more of an issue in America’s history not too long ago. Do I really need to clarify that I know that? Does anyone need to clarify that? REALLY? When all the news and social media sites discuss those very obvious points??? Christ almighty.

            As for demonization, it’s wrong and it’s skewed and it’s everything that is wrong with modern journalism. You made a terrible defense (excuse) for it and it’s hard to take you seriously when you have such a naive mentality. Also, sensationalism is totally a big part of this issue because it breeds ignorance, anxiety, mob mentality, and (of course) misinformation. How are you not getting this???

            It’s clear to me that to converse with you would be pointless since you simply just want to argue.

  • Mark Mayerson

    I am not denying the existence of gender bias, but the Buzzfeed article and this one are very California-centric. Referring to California animation as if it was the entire animation industry shows a bias of another kind. You refer to the article’s thoroughness, but geographically, its wearing blinders.

  • I’m not about to give Buzzfeed a click since 99.99% of their content is garbage, I think I got the gist of it from this article.

    that bit about how they’d teach classes at the most prestigious and probably most respected art colleges in the country is surprising. When I went to SCAD the classes, which always had a fair mix of men and women, were never taught that way. I saw equal amounts of talent from both the male and female students too.

    I think things are getting better for women in animation, maybe not so much in the bigger industry, but on the independent side of things. Granted, becoming an independent animator and making a decent living with it is not easy, but I think all these platforms on the internet at least helps independent animators get noticed. There’s the Puppycat cartoon, blanking out on the woman’s name who made it and it’s full title, BUT THAT ONE. then there’s the Batman and Piderman cartoon which is co-created by a woman….

    I had to give up on a animation career shortly after I graduated from art college because I realized I wasn’t going to be able to make a living in it. To be honest, I really didn’t have enough talent to create quality animation that would get me a job. If I had stayed another year or so in art college, I might have been better off. idk. I could have perused the independent route, but as I said getting yourself out there among the thousands of other animators trying to do the same thing isn’t easy. I was pretty discouraged by that so I gave up. I do regret it though, I would like to go back to it as a side thing, but I haven’t been able to land my self in a stable career/job for the past few years to be able to do that.

    it would be nice to see more female directors in the bigger animation industry though. that comment about Pixar is not surprising. I think it’s all about the environment that is created at these studios. If there is a strong sense of “bro-culture” then women may feel they can’t move up to higher positions.

    I’m hoping that maybe with the success of a show like Steven Universe, and wasn’t there some other cartoon coming out on the Disney channel made by a woman, with a magical girl in it? Is that out yet? ANYWAYS, with these cartoons maybe it’ll show execs in other studios that hey, people are really drawn to these shows hat happen to be made by women, let’s make more! and then maybe we’ll start to see more women-directed content from the bigger studios.

    • Twiggy T

      Wow, your story sounds a lot like mine, including thinking things might be different if I had stayed in college another year.

      • DebScott

        Chickengirl and Twiggy – just stay in the game, keep drawing, writing and animating. There are plenty of online classes to help you feel motivated and provide direction. Network, collaborate and talk to people.

        Can one make it as an artist after school? This is such a critical phase where young female artists (all artists, really) need support. The lack of role models doesn’t help either.

        In an industry that thrives on networking and recommendations its a numbers game. The more women in the industry the more experience they’ll get and be recommended for other jobs – so you need to stay in the game!

  • I do hope that racial hinderance gets talked about in animation (less diversity in direction and other important roles) soon. This is good talk for women animators/artists, and I do hope more support comes for them. I do want to see support for racial diversity as well (it’s started at DreamWorks, hopefully Disney one day will get a clue…that goes for Pixar and Illumination Entertainment as well).

  • KW

    Having only ever worked in advertising I can’t say how it is in film but from what i’ve seen there are very few women doing the art side of things when it comes to commercial animation. At least where I live (which isn’t NYC) there are very very few women on the art side but there are a lot on the client/producing side. Because i’m not in charge of hiring I dont know if there just aren’t any women applying for the art jobs or if the women that are applying just aren’t being interviewed. I’d be interested in seeing those numbers though.

    I would like to think its an unconscious choice, but I hardly find it a coincidence that most positions that involve dealing with clients or other people where a smile is required are occupied by women. Because what better way to please your client than to have a pretty woman ready at their every beck and call. But from talking with the women in producing I do work with all of them have experienced some form of sexual harassment or discrimination from either clients or peers.

    More related to the article, where Sabrina Cotugno talks about the women in the program being guided towards design. I noticed the same thing where I went to animation school. It wasn’t like 100% of the girls in the program were told to be 2D/Design artists but it seemed a majority of the people that were focused on that side of production were women. Whether they were coerced into that side of things or if they did it because they really wanted to, I can’t say. But it wasn’t something I really thought about or noticed until reading this article.

  • Guest

    But I thought women just don’t want to do any job in existence except a handful of traditionally feminine ones they’ve been allowed to do! Don’t tell me that men dominating all these jobs since they were never prohibited from working or going to school means that women might not get a fair chance in their boys’ club?
    Naaah, that can’t be it. I’m sure it just comes down to skill and only men have these skills. I mean look at the masterpieces we’ve had running on tv recently! Fishhooks, Uncle Grandpa, Mountain Fort Awesome, Problem Solverz, Breadwinners, Pickle and Peanut…How in the world could anyone pass on such genius just to give some whiny women a chance?

    Well if those girls do get a chance, their characters better be mostly male! We wouldn’t want to limit our audience to only one gender by making too many of them female. Boys might throw up at the disgusting idea that there’s more than one girl for every five boys in the world. Cooties, eww! Everyone, keep quiet about that Indominus Rex and velociraptor toys being female. It would break the little boys’ hearts and minds that they’re associating themselves with the other half of the population!

    And just something to keep in mind, until 1978, you could legally fire a woman for getting pregnant. That was 35 years ago! You might want to check what changes to women’s rights happened fairly recently, meaning that the people who are very much alive today enforced and dealt with some pretty disgusting double standards. They’re just more careful and less vocal about it now leading people to believe that they went extinct. My dad is younger than Lasseter and he thinks it’s justified to not want to employ a woman because she could spend years just making children and leeching off of the company’s funds. My animation teacher said that he’s not sexist, but obviously it’s the guys who should be in charge of animation. So much for that.

    • Fried

      “I mean look at the masterpieces we’ve had running on tv recently! Fishhooks, Uncle Grandpa, Mountain Fort Awesome, Problem Solverz, Breadwinners, Pickle and Peanut”

      I know what sarcastic point you’re trying to make, but cherry-picking shows and willfully ignoring shows like We Bare Bears, Harvey Beaks, Wander Over Yonder, and Rick & Morty is just a little insulting.

      I mean really? Problem Solverz? You’re reaching back as far as 2011 to prove your point? Dozens of cartoons have come and gone since Solverz was on air, and you’re still going over that?

      Also Uncle Grandpa is very good. Sorry the designs aren’t clean and pristine enough for you to enjoy, but don’t lump it in with the rest of those shows.

      I could also make generalization arguments by saying “Only MEN can be creative! Women only make shows about magical girls, relationship drama, and cute things! Steven Universe, My Little Pony, Star VS., Bee & Puppycat…. Obviously women are primitive storytellers, all they care about is sparkly pretty pink cutesy characters! That’s why we approach MEN when we want NEW ideas! Not Sailor Moon rehashes!”.

      You actually have solid points about how drastically different the workplace is, laws are, and accessibility to schools and jobs are for women compared to the past 70 years, but it’s kind of sadly lost in the sea of hyperbole to prove how “unfair things are”.

      • Guest

        Mentioning that the vast majority of works are uncreative and pure trash (also known as Sturgeon’s law), works produced mainly by men, does not negate the skill and creativity that goes into shows that are actually good, just like how mentioning MLP and Steven Universe doesn’t mean that all women-made shows are good. It just means that men get far more chances to produce crap and that the whole “men are just far more skilled” argument doesn’t hold water. I mentioned crappy shows I remembered for being exceptionally and universally accepted as horrible but I’m sure there’s a ton of other bad shows running on tv so I really don’t think more examples are needed. As for “only men being creative” part, I don’t think the influx of Regular Show-type cartoons would agree with that. Something like Problem Solverz never EVER should’ve gone on air and people are telling me getting hired to make an animated show is about skill that only the best can have?

        And sorry, but Uncle Grandpa is a horrible show. You might want to look at the kind of critical reception it got

  • Guy

    Try being a Minority or Woman or a Minority Woman in animation….. Very easy to see there is a certain kind of guy clique that you have to conform too. It’s very obnoxious and unfair….

    • Adam

      [Comment removed by editors. Per our commenting guidelines, “Use a single username on a comments thread so that other readers know who they are communicating with.”]

  • UpstartThunder

    It’s an interesting article. I would say after my 20 years in the animation industry the numbers and attitudes have mightily improved.

  • Nathan Heinze

    Hard work and talent will take you a long way in any industry, regardless of your gender. In my first job I was overtly passed over by an affirmative action hire (I’m a white male), so I left the company and keep progressing higher and higher. I get tired of hearing people blaming their lack of representation on factors other than themselves. If you work like hell and you’re talented as hell, you WILL rise. Period.

    Executives are much much much more interested in your ability to make them money than they are your sex or color, etc. In fact, hiring committees specifically LOOK for females and minorities and that’s an advantage for you. So use it, and stop complaining.

    • Kyle’s Dad Sent Me

      “In my first job I was overtly passed over by an affirmative action hire (I’m a white male)”

      “I get tired of hearing people blaming their lack of representation on factors other than themselves.”

      Maybe the other person was just better than you. Stop blaming factors other than yourself.

    • Guest

      Oh no! Poor white man!

      Must be nice to live in a world where you only experience that once in your whole life.

    • LA Julian

      You assume that you were passed over because of your race — it never occurs to you that a minority or a woman could be better than you at anything. I’m sure you think you’re not racist.

      • Nathan Heinze

        No, I was passed over because of race n sex. HR n my manager tried to defend it, but they explained that was the reason n why they had to do it (CA state oversight issues). The girl who was promoted over me was decently competent, but I basically did most of her job for her once she got promoted, and I left the company. I actually won employee of the year there, so it was egregious. I realize no one has to believe this, but please don’t call me a racist and insult my character when u know nothing about the situation. Thx.

  • B-BUT I worked hard and as a man it was easy for me, so I don’t know about all this “sexism” nonsense I mean hello it’s the 21st century, plus one time a minority got hired instead of me SO MAYBE it’s harder to a white man in this day and age (despite all evidence to the contrary)? I mean has anyone ever considered that minorities aren’t as represented in government, media and high paying jobs because, maybe, MAYBE, they’re simply not, collectively good enough? but I guess some people are just so excited to cry prejudice at the drop of the hat, HMPH!

    • Guest

      Maybe we should just get rid of everyone who isn’t white and male, because clearly everyone else is just not as competent, hardworking or skilled as them.

      Remember when women were primarily interested in home economics and being a good mother? I can see people in those times thinking it’s completely natural that women are not interested in anything else in the world. Obviously there’d be no reason to encourage them in other pursuits that are “unnatural” for their gender.

  • BurntToShreds

    Well said.

  • LeSean Thomas

    Waiting for the female and minority responses. *Eats popcorn*

    • mark

      Don’t have nothing constructive to add?

  • babananas

    Cartoon Brew I’m so proud of you for this! <3 Thank you thank you thank you

  • Guest

    The Avengers were watched by more-or-less the same number of men and women. There was a statistic based on facebook likes that showed that female “fans” made up 46%. Yes, it’s just facebook likes hence the “”, but still, it shows that there’s interest among women. And personally I meet and see plenty of female superhero fans, the idea that it’s some exclusively male pastime akin to Warhammer seems very outdated. Mad Max Fury Road had 40% of women in the audience. Not precisely half, but pretty close and it’s a hardcore action movie.

    Now, I doubt that as many women will get the thrill out of senseless violence or being in the military like men do and I doubt men will enjoy reading about forced crappy love triangles as much as wome… Actually, scratch that. We have an entire big chunk of the anime industry devoted precisely to that. Yes, it’s usually accompanied by tits and panties, but at the core the Japanese romance genre for men is pretty similar to what we have here. It’s about meeting varied female characters (more like cliches but whatever) who will fight over you like horndogs and want to take care of you and support you. It’s just adapted for the male audience. And of course both genders can appreciate a romance story done right, when it isn’t aiming at satisfying only one type of audience at expense of another.

    Punk and sword and sorcery genres had strong female influences in the beginning, but were overshadowed by their later masculine development (of course in that age there’s no way female creators could seriously compete with male ones). When women got the right to vote, it still took 60 years until the 80s for women to start voting in the same amount as men, if not more. If you were looking at it from outdated lens, would you be telling me how women just weren’t interested in voting and affecting their own lives? Would you tell me women just aren’t interested or cut out to be lawyers or dentists when their numbers got up from 5% to 30% and 1% to 28% respectively in the last 37 years?

    I am willing to admit that certain gender differences exist, but it’s really not as simple as saying boys like cars and girls like pink. Plenty of these things you think are inborn tastes are just self-perpetuating cycles. Male superheroes dominate for years, a male market forms around them and since women aren’t interested in reading only about men, superheroes as a genre are dubbed male entertainment and men are hired who will contribute to it continuing to appeal to the existing audience. Same thing with the animation in the US being limited to childish comedies, or do you think there isn’t anyone in the US who actually wants to make a mature, adult animated feature?

    • Fried

      Just want to point out with your superhero statistics, those are based on movie interests with very handsome and charming. male actors. If you were to do a poll on comics themselves, I’m sure the majority of fans would be guys. The movie world is vastly different from the comic book world, a lot of people who are fans of Avengers series haven’t even touched a comic.

      There’s no shame in admitting that some genres end up gearing more towards one gender than another. These are simple sale facts. Romance will MOST LIKELY interest women, but not all women are interested in romance.

      It just seems silly that whenever people need to make arguments, they have to tiptoe as much as possible by going, “Now romance has a big women fanbase, b-b-but that doesn’t mean some men don’t like romance, too!!!” If someone is looking to attack your point by pulling a strawman, they’re not worth defending your point to.

      • Guest

        So? The male interest in superheroes is based on them being portrayed as muscular power fantasies. Does that make their interests invalid? How are women being interested in superheroes not interested in them just because they find their looks attractive? Most people who are fans of superhero movies don’t read the comics anyway, though more and more are starting to. People simply like the concept and they like the action of the movies. Not to mention, the majority of superhero comics are still about male superheroes. Most fans of female superheroes are women (though not overwhelmingly, I think it was 60%). Men have created and capitalized on many things for as long as they’ve been allowed to create and devote themselves to them (i.e. far FAR longer than women have). Now women should settle for pink, princesses, romance and makeup just because decades of limiting their interests to that made it seem natural and inborn? Sorry, but no. You don’t get to focus so much of the entertainment industry and genres around men and then insist that women just aren’t interested in anything except the few things you’ve been selling them for so long.
        And romance interests women, but it also interests men when it’s made to appeal to them. Twilight will never appeal to men and something like harem or ecchi anime will never appeal to women. But both get tons of money from their respective audiences. And Titanic got tons of money from both. So simplifying and wrongly insisting that men don’t like romance is spitting in the face of a very successful industry. A niche industry, yes, but you’re arguing about how men love superhero comics so much when this is also a niche industry.
        Again, the differences exist but they’re not as simple as “Women are from Venus, men are from Mars”, “Women like these genres, men like these”. That’s the kind of limiting, simplistic executive thinking that made it so hard for female characters to get any variety in tv and movies.

    • Karl Hungus

      Who am I? The president of the He-Man-Woman_Haters_Club??
      I’m telling you that animated Batman and lots of other animated fare had predominantly male audiences and you come back with some anecdotes about live action feature films that both have A-list female actors in them. You know there is a balance. The fashion industry makes exponentially more money than animation and that labor force skews heavily towards women. There is a secret cabal behind the curtain trying to box out the other gender. Its just that the field attracts more from one gender than the other. Big deal.

      • *shrugs* I’m a woman, and I adore Batman:TAS. And the Facebook stat isn’t an anecdote.

        Also, the problem being discussed here isn’t the fashion industry (which I’m sure has issues), but animation. Because, I don’t know, this is an animation website. And the article in question is about sexism in animation.

  • well those topics you mentioned aren’t sensationalist enough or click-baity enough to get people’s attention. Hence why I refuse to go to Buzzfeed’s website to read the full article since most of their “journalism” is nothing but click-bait garbage.

    but that is the way most blogs operate these days, it’s allllll about the pageviews. Look at some of the content this site puts out nowadays, like the article about the Jem live action movie coming out. Other have pointed it out, but look at how much attention those types of articles get, compared to other articles on this site, say the ones that highlight an artist or their work that usually get no comments.

    I think it’s fine to discuss sexism in different industries, but this is only highlighting one piece of the pie. I don’t think it’s necessarily fair to call this article a witch hunt either, it’s not Jezebel/Gawker levels of obnoxious.

  • klute

    “Artists don’t hire other artists”.

    Totally wrong. They absolutely do. Far, far, far more often than “executives or producers do”. How do you think people get into Disney or Pixar or Nickelodeon or CN or Dreamworks or, well, anywhere? It’s because it was either a word of mouth recommendation from an ARTIST on staff, and/or a review of their work by another ARTIST. Do you seriously think “executives” hire artists? If a producer ever hires, it’s only going to be because they’ve worked with the person before-and on the previous project, believe it, the person they worked with before got THAT job due to the portfolio review or recommendation of-an ARTIST.

    So go ahead-type out your list, and then type out the names of the artists the executives “hired”. They are NOT in positions to hire. They simpy don’t spend time on that. Supervising artists are and THEY do.

    • Karl Hungus

      Actually I work in the industry – and for many of the studios you just named. The main recruiter for artists at Disney is a woman (google animation talent development disney animation) She facilitates when tests go out and to whom. Half of the shows at CN have producers who are women. The head of the television division at DW is a woman. NIckelodeon is reshuffling right now but for the past 5 or so years the president and vice president of animation development were women. Women are VERY represented in animation’s most senior positions. The big salaries and the big decisions on who’s shows get greenlit more often than not are in the hands of women. The best producer I ever worked for was a woman. Invariably we are all catering to their sensibilities with the shows that we make so this “boys club” garbage is simply a canard.

      • Emily

        True…sexism is all around.

  • jimhull

    I made it very clear to Sabrina and to other students in my Story class at CalArts that what I was teaching had nothing to do with “masculine” story elements or “feminine” story elements. I did use “male” and “female” to describe the difference between the terms “linear” and “holistic”, but stated over and over again that this was a gross generalization intended to make it easier for early 20-somethings to understand a very complex theory of story.

    Apparently I didn’t say it enough.

    The fact that she says it was “a little hard to describe” only makes it clear to me that I didn’t do a good enough job explaining myself. Never once did I claim that linear storytelling and big external stakes were “for men”, while relationships and emotional storylines were “for women”. That’s a ludicrous assumption. And it’s disingenuous for someone to describe my class that way.

    You can learn more about what Sabrina refers to as “fucking bullshit” on my site, Narrative First ( Of interest might be my article “Female Main Characters Who Think Like Female Main Characters”( where I explain the difference between Main Characters who solve problems linearly and Main Characters who solve problems holistically. The title of the article is meant to be clickbait, but if you actually take the time to read it you will see that it has nothing to do with “masculine” or “feminine” story elements.

    Instead, you will find that the article–and my classes at CalArts–were teaching a theoretical concept of narrative known as the Main Character’s Problem-Solving Style (Dramatica, This concept has nothing to do with gender bias, nothing to do with sexual preference, and nothing to do with masculine or feminine. It simply describes a technique of problem-solving present within the Main Character of a story.

    Hope that clears up any confusion.

    • hannah

      It doesn’t seem like she was talking about terminology here but rather a mood or a general atmosphere within the student base.

      • Emily

        The Producer’s Show stats were very surprising to me…and say a lot. It could be that more women don’t complete their films–but that’s tied to a buttload of problems and not necessarily due specifically to the CalArts environment.

      • honbadger

        If you read the original article on Buzzfeed she is specifically talking about the terminology in his class. That part was edited out here.

    • Bernie Bunuan

      Thanks for posting that. Your article contravenes a narrow opinion of an old friend of mine. He claimed in stories a man will always fight for an ideal while women will fight for something personal – family, love interests, or material gain. But that’s absolutely not true. Revenge films can have either male or female protagonists aim for something personal. In films with lawyers they usually fight for the idealism in justice, also regardless of their gender.

    • L_Ron_Hoover

      Good on you for defending yourself and being articulate, logical, and mature. If I had to pick between which to trust, an emotional passive-aggressive tweet or a well-thought out written explanation then I’d think it was pretty obvious.

    • Lizbit

      Jim Hull is a story artist?

    • Lizbit

      Even as an illustrated theory or click bait for young students, female/male descriptions do create something out of nothing and yes- that is cause for some fury. What female student wants to be aligned with a description that they are female and so they are holistic. Would not everyone want to be linear which is also code for clear thinking? How would Jim describe himself? To another point, if an artist is going to teach story at CalArts they should have professional story experience.

    • Taco

      Jim, I’ve been holding my tongue since you first posted your little clarification speech wherever this article has show up. But I have one questions for you, and it’s very simple.

      When you are teaching a class of 20+ year olds who are all generally well educated high school graduates. The kind of kids who would understand the meaning of perfectly sufficient, usable & relevant words like “Linear” & “Holistic”. Why then do you go add an additional layer of metaphoric confusion to the mix by trying to further discribe, categorize & overcomplicate these two approaches to story structure as Male & Female, ontop of the already perfectly functional language used to express the concept?

      Mr John Grey & his book are trying to discuss very different concepts to the ones you are, so why not keep your practical how to guide on the approaches to in story problem solving by your main character as just downright simple & unconvoluted descriptions for explaining two different analytical statergies (or mind sets) when it comes to building a story. Save the verbal metaphors & imagery for the actual stories you are creating. Simply give your students the credit of being able to comprehend the meaning and concept of the words “Linear” & “wholistic” & you will do a better job & save everyone from writing down an additional paragraph of unnecessary & fuzzy exposition in their notes.

      Male & Female are not sufficient descriptors for explaining two different analytical statergies for creating a fictional story & weaving your characters relatable thought process up on screen. Using them here unhelpfully segregates the two statergies & makes the overall concept less clear to your students.

      And just to clarify, I’m not looking at this from some politically correct ‘don’t call blue for boys & pink for girls’ perspetive. It’s simply from a issue of pure clarity as an educator. It boggles the mind. I mean, you could even use ANIMATION terms like Straight Ahead VS Pose to Pose to give a clearer picture of the two approaches you are trying to get accross with story structure & internal characterisation. But that’s just the way I see it. Please tell me if you think I’m wrong & why, I’d love to know.

      • LA Julian

        Gendering non-gendered concepts is itself an act of imposing sexual status quo norms on people — coming from an authority figure to young students is casting it as The Way Things Are, and no amount of “Angel of the Hearth” flattery will make it any less destructive, in animation or anywhere else.

      • jimhull

        Hi, Taco. Male and Female were used in my class as a point of reference to give better context to the idea of blind spots and problem-solving. As mentioned in another comment no one is 100% linear or 100% holistic. However here was a greater tendency towards that baseline back in the caveman days. Men were predominantly linear and women were predominantly holistic.

        Everyone has blind spots. If you didn’t have a blind spot you would have no motivation, and you would sit around doing nothing all day. Unfortunately blind spots can get us into trouble and that’s why pairing up with someone who can see into your blind spots becomes a very advantageous survival technique. It just so happens that linear problem-solvers can see into a holistic thinker’s justifications (fancy word for blind spot) just as much as holistic thinkers can point out the blind spots in a linear thinker. That’s why your partner drives you crazy sometimes (because who really wants to be told all their blind spots!) and also why you appreciate them so much. Generally speaking, if you believe you have found your “soulmate”–and you’re not in a negative co-dependent relationship–what you have found really is someone who complements your problem-solving technique on all different levels. Together you are unstoppable as you both have each other’s blind spots accounted for.

        Now back in the day this was split along gender lines for the survival of the species. As society shifts and gender becomes less of an issue, this idea of all males being 100% linear and all females being 100% holistic falls away. This is why you have a film like “The Social Network” where the male Main Character solves problems holistically (Mark Zuckerberg) and films like “Juno” and “Frozen” where the female Main Characters solve problems linearly (Juno and Anna, respectively). The problem-solving style of the Main Character runs independent of gender.

        While it is true that my use of Male or Female would have been disadvantageous to my students if I had confined my explanation to the difference between linear and holistic, there is an historical context for which these terms are appropriate and necessary. It is important to know where this difference in problem-solving came from so you can have a better understand of where it is going.

    • cardamomtea

      While I do understand your explanation as I have take a story class myself where the same gendered terminology was used to describe these concepts, I think Taco’s point is worth examining. If these story telling methods are not actually limited to gender, then why use gendered terminology to describe them? The metaphor has gone bad.

      It is also worth considering that using male-female terms to make things easier to understand is not actually making it easier, but instead taking broader un-gendered character theory and forcing it to conform to preconceived notions about men and women and the kinds of stories that they are allowed to have and/or experience. While you, and the many other professors who teach this subject, may not mean to reinforce stereotypes and gender biases, perhaps your methods are working against you.

  • My Ocean

    I”ve been in the business for 20 years and haven’t seen situations where women were hired over men just because of their gender. What with the attitude that artists are easily replaceable, no one would stick out their neck for a substandard artist because they wouldn’t want to get fired themselves when the crap inevitably hits the fan.

    It’s still rare to see multiple women board artists on tv shows. It’s still rare to see women directors anywhere, be it animation or live-action. There are women producers galore, but on the artist and writer side? Still a long way to go in terms of any representation at all, nevermind if that representation actually exists on the screen. So I have no idea where you get the idea that animation isn’t a boys club, because it sure as hell still is.

    What you are right about is that women haven’t been drawn to animation in general as much in decades past compared to now, for whatever reasons. I’m glad that at least is changing for the better.

    • L_Ron_Hoover

      It’s not that the artists chosen were “substandard” (I never claimed that) but the male artists whose portfolios were overlooked were clearly much better picks. They showed more knowledge on boarding, had better craftsmanship, and more impressive demo reels.

      Yes, it’s still rare to see female artists on certain types of TV shows for a few reasons. But since we’re specifically only talking about storyboards in your scenario, here’s why…

      Storyboard driven shows are usually “cartoon” cartoons. Not as many girls are interested in those types of shows as guys. Read it again, “not as many” that is very important to what we’re talking about. A lot more women go into educational entertainment. That isn’t a made up generalization either, women are more interested in education in general, hence why there are a lot more female teachers.

      Sure, just recently we got drama shows like “Steven Universe” that definitely attract a lot more women (the fanbase is full of girls.) That’s a new type of exception that didn’t exist before. A board driven (not script driven) drama.

      On the other hand, if you’re just talking about “board artist” in the sense of clean-up then you’ll find that there are a lot of script-driven shows with female board artists.

      Again, read the end of my comment you replied to and the part about paying attention to the history of the medium in context and specifically the fact that it wasn’t until very recently that animation became popular for both sexes. It was a “boy’s club” before because it was predominantly an interest that men had. Yes, there are/were exceptions but it was still “predominantly” men. Same goes for comic books and anything else related to geekdom.

      Animation, gaming, and comics are massively more popular nowadays amongst the population, thus it recieves more attention from everyone. It was long ago that the general population had no idea who The Avengers were. Do you think Comic Con was ever as popular as it is today??? No. Do you think CalArts classes were anywhere near as huge as they are today??? No. The demand has clearly risen and that is a massive part in the reasoning.

      • Guest

        Have you heard of a woman who got rejected from Disney literally for being a woman in 1938 because “Women do not do any of the creative work”?

        Women were expected to stay at home and take care of the children for the longest time (even today, how many men think being a stay-at-home dad is humiliating and beneath them?). And only until the 70s was the practice of denying women credit in their own name eliminated. Even if she would be taken seriously enough to do animation, she would still need to work according to the directions from men. For Christ’s sake, animation began in the time when women were seen as being too stupid to vote and you’re telling me it’s the women’s fault that they just didn’t get the same piece of cake as men did?

        It’s easy to look at the things that are the products of decades of locking out women and then act like women just aren’t interested in them. Then when they’re clearly showing interest in the new age, the one which gives them a chance to strive for something other than being a good housewife, it’s apparently just a fad or something? Is it a fad that it took until the 80’s for women to start voting as much as men? Would you be telling me women clearly weren’t interested before, but that it’s just a consequence of the rising interest in voting which creates this illusion? That voting is just not a predominantly “female” interest?

        And I’d argue women getting into animation might have something to do with the fact that cartoons nowadays aren’t the boring girly rubbish of the 80s, but actually try to be more varied and action-packed. Women are starting to get into animation, women are starting to get into a LOT of things and it’s hardly coincidental that it’s happening now their interests are also catered to. I’m not sure why you’re arguing against that.

  • My Ocean

    Artists don’t technically hire other artists, because they caved in to the studio HR machine with online portfolio reviews by idiots who don’t actually do the hiring, tests for jobs, etc.

    But they sure as hell recommend fellow artists for jobs. I’ve only recently started meeting people who got a job based on a stupid test instead of a friend’s referral.

  • Bernie Bunuan

    This is very disheartening. I wonder what the women producers, writers, and voice directors have to say as well about this. Kristin Thompson is known for writing “Implications of the Cel Animation Technique”, but since then she hasn’t paid much attention to animation since the 1980’s.

  • Just calm is 2015 not the 1900

    This is interesting but does it really matter I think things are changing already for the best. So why are people making a big deal I have seen a lot of new girl artist working for the industry. I think in about few more years there are gonna be more women artist then male just by the fact women are going to school more then male. If your being harass in anyway just speak up like this person did or record the class or any situation that you felt it was demeaning you. Is 2015 people things are changing! So just keep writing in just show proof most people own a phone with a camera just record it or take pics what’s going to back up your statement more.

  • Emily

    Sexism is to blame. It can come from a male or female–doesn’t matter–it is engrained in our society, and in us.

  • Emily

    This article is awesome. Always good to bring this issue to light, even if it is slowly improving…there’s always room for improvement!

  • Jeffrey

    Every group dynamic is different on each production. To generalize about how sexes are treated across the board is troubling. If someone is genuinely crossing lines then it should be dealt with, like what happened to that “Clarence” dude. That kind of stuff should not be tolerated. But, what I’ve seen is that (especially in story) it boils down to personalities and sensibilities which are always in flux on a production as people move around and come and go. My concern is that some sort of affirmative action will happen. There needs to be statistics available where we can see ratios of applicants and any imbalances to get a more clear picture.

  • Taco

    Hilarious indeed!
    Thumbs up for the Re-Cap.
    If you don’t laugh at this, you’ll cry.

  • That Gray Dog

    Soooo, I’m gonna poke one of the elephants in the room: why not band together and start your own girls-club studio?

    Sounds like there’s enough to start something potentially rivalling Pixar in terms of both talent and numbers.

    • klute

      And where does a workforce of primarily young artists, many straight out of school, get the money to do that?

      Also, it’s kind of offensive to suggest that there’s an “elephant” like this: “don’t like the ratio? Get your own place to work where it’s ALL WOMEN”. I’ve never in my life heard any woman in animation say “I want to work in a “girls-club”. This is a story about people wanting to work in an existing industry, period. The artists at Pixar, Warner Bros, Nickelodon, Cartoon Network, Sony, Dreamworks or Disney didn’t have to start those companies themselves.

      • Brian L.

        And options like Kickstarter and social media are just the beginning of the issue. Truth is, we’re in a more “independent”-centered age than we’ve ever had.

        There are more new affordable learning resources, online services, and affordable technologies geared for game development, digital art and animation popping up than we can keep count.

        I know that, as a game developer (with an animator’s heart), for us, our industry of independence all this started, simply from more people taking matters into their own hands, and the effort growing large enough to make big companies take notice and adapt.

        When the cost and accessibility of tools are not a problem much anymore, it leaves you more money for things like offices and services you need to run a business.

        With start-up costs drastically reduced, you can focus on garnering support for your projects, from fans and organizations who share your taste and voice.

        Industry today has come to a point where there’s little excuse for not starting your own venture, esp. if you’re one with a voice, or seeking freedom from some hindrance you’ll find with big studios and major publishers.

        I bet if more women created the studios and the market they’re seeking to see more of out there, major companies and products will take notice.

        Given the myriad of MLP and Steven Universe fans and Lauren Faust-inspired female artists, they’re an industry in themselves. There’s a following large enough to call a market, and enough displeased female animators out there to create a marketable force.

        My advice to these women is to stop looking for changes from within the industry and go start an industry. That’s the fastest way to see change is to be the change. It’s available now.

        That’s what’s happening with game development industry. That’s what’s happening with the illustration and comic industry. I see no reason why it can’t happen with the animation industry.

    • Cristin McKee

      That studio would get sued so quick by dudes who feel like they are being discriminated against.

    • Harrison Jaegermeister

      A woman tried to do that once, did not end well for her.

  • Marco_Sensei

    This article gave me the Idea of looking at the situation here in France… So I’ve tried to figure just how may women Director did we have here… Checked the production staff of about 50 animated films and over 400 animated series produced or co-produced in France. I’ve found 2 women Co-Directors for the list of animated films and only 22 Directors or Co-Directors for the animated series… That’s… low… :/
    Seems there is a lot more women writing stories or doing character design on animated projects here but there is clearly something odd, almost illogical with that lack of women Directors. ._.
    I hope we will have some clues on the situation in Europe after the panel at Pixelalt.

  • Chuck Dukowski

    Yes. And the VAST MAJORITY of women complaining about the workplace that they are part of are single and without a family. While a very large percentage of the men working in the industry have a family at home to support. So please, by all means, have kids and find a stay at home dad and then work to feed all of them and then come back and you’ll have a better understanding of men saying “Hey, your simplistic summation of the way our field breaks down is not really a fair shake.”
    Life is SUPER easy when you are single. I know I was there. Your world view is so infantile you can’t even make the effort to try to think about people with different circumstances than your own.

    • Rae

      lmfao, men are so fragile, why are you getting so defensive?
      Your personal choice to have kids, start a family and accept the responsibilities that come with such a decision is not comparable to hundreds of generations of being oppressed in just about every human culture because you lack that oh so special y-chromosome.
      FYI, you don’t know anything about me or my world view, but I’ll give you a sneaky peaky:
      I grew up in poverty with my sister and was raised by a single mother, but I guess since “life’s SUPER easy when you’re single”, me dropping out of college and joining the military to PAY for college because your family is poor isn’t nearly as bad a deal as being a father. I guess me and my mom stress out over nothing.

      • Chuck Dukowski

        And its your personal choice not to have kids so when you reach your late thirties or forties, and your values change, and you do decide that you want to have a family – and you can’t (because you waited to long and you thought it was “beneath you” to raise children because dammit you need to judged by the merits of men and not women) – I’ll be right there. Laughing my head off. Because you’ll have no one to visit you when you are old and you will be sucked into the autumn years of your life so much quicker that people who made the sacrifice to raise a family.

    • Not a housewife

      So if a woman is single and complaining about workplace sexism, she actually should be grateful that life is so easy? Not having the burden of being a stay at home mom once you pop out some kids.

      Maybe take your 1950s “men are breadwinners” thinking and -as you put it – “make the effort to try and think about people with different circumstances than your own.” Ya know, people that aren’t grumpy old white men.

      Life is easier when your single. I’m honestly surprised that you STILL aren’t single given your frame of mind.

      • Chuck Dukowski

        Here’s a question for you: if I was reviewing candidates for a job (man or woman) and one had a family and the other was young and single, that would factor into my decision. Because the former of the two would have a greater understanding of responsibility would they not? Is that sexist? Is that biased? I think it is definitely biased and I think a show would be legally allowed to be biased towards a person(male or female) who has a family at home. And I see that ll the time and I agree with it. Am I a bigot because I agree with that kind of bias?

        • Neko

          Ok, what does having or not having a child have to do with your ability to produce quality work on time?

          If you have a stay-at-home spouse, they are the one who do the work around the house and take care of children, not you, so please, do tell me about the suffering of coming home to dinner, tv and changed diapers. Most men where I live barely do anything around the house and treat any time they lift their finger as helping or doing a favour (you mean my wife shouldn’t have a job AND take care of the children AND the house by herself?).

          My father is unemployed and does nothing around the house because “a man shouldn’t have to do woman’s work” but it’s good to know you’d employ a bum like that over a capable single woman. And good luck finding a stay-at-home husband when taking care of children is seen as too humiliating and banal for men but a woman should kill her career for children because “women shouldn’t be judged by the merits of men”. Yeah, the 50s called, they want their worldviews back.

        • OtherDan

          Chuck, that may be true in some (extremely rare) cases. But, more often it seems to me that they are opting to hire the cheaper people (newbies) who can be molded (aren’t set in their way) and will work crazy long hours for free, who they also think are more “hip” to trends. More likely than your scenario, the better artist or better connected (or likable) one would get the nod.

  • Chuck Dukowski

    I absolutely have experienced gender bias. The difference is that I don’t moan about it. I move on. And you ignored the very salient point of my post – because you have no life experience and no argument against it. If you own a studio or are in charge of production you would NEVER let a talented person not get hired because of their gender or race. Because that talent will be hired by your competitors. Every studio looks at artist’s work through the prism of “do I want to have that on my team or do i want to compete against that”.
    Money rules the animation industry not gender bias.

    • Guest

      I did not ignore your point, I literally said that keeping the sexist status quo is the secure thing to do to gain money because the studios are constantly looking to sell something generic enough for everyone to like, but just creative enough for the audience to tell the difference from another similar product. Because this seems too complicated for you, I’ll break it down:
      1. People like familiar things.
      2. Male-only and sexist things are familiar because of decades of entertainment and society working off of these stances. I hear sexist crap pretty much every day and I see a ton of movies appeal to this sexist crap.
      3. Studios keep asking for this stuff because any creativity that might turn off some people is seen as an unnecessary risk.

      Part of this risk is putting women in roles that seem normal and do not draw attention to their femininity. Female-lead stories are still seen as being for women, while male-lead stories are seen to be for everyone (again, can you imagine Penguins of Madagascar with an all-female-but-one cast?). Also many men feel threatened and emasculated if there are too many women around them (again, why do you think all ensemble casts always must have one extra male in them?) and there is of course still the concept that a woman is not normal, but a special feminine deviation, something which is apparent in character designs. Why do you think the male emotions in Inside Out get to look like a red box or squiggly lines, while the female ones are just people with different colours? Why do female animals have to have hair, hips and eyelashes while the male ones look animalistic and androgynous? If you have to have a story about a normal, regular everyman, what do you think, will it be male or female?

      These things are slowly changing, but only after years and years of incessant “moaning”.

      I have seen people who really aren’t as good at drawing get hired. You are wrongly assuming that the people in charge of companies know about art and can actually tell who is more talented, and that the artists who recommend and bring in other artists care more about the company getting their paws on money than hiring the kind of people they’d like to work with. Connections and a decent fitting personality are among the most important things in getting you hired. Being all objective sounds lovely, but it’s not how most people actually function. If god put a “This person is a genius and will bring you money” button on suitable people, then sure, only the best would always get hired. Sadly that’s not how life always works or we wouldn’t have such excessive amount of crap clogging up the theatres with only a few decent movies in between. Or do you have another explanation for why apparent professionals and geniuses, the best of the best, keep producing so much rubbish? Please, I’d love to hear it!

      And sorry that as a white male you don’t moan about the system that has for ages not been turned against you and only recently truly started to get better. Must be hard for you.

    • Cristin McKee

      Exhibit A-

      “What I generally find people saying when they say “I guess I’m not
      easily offended” is actually closer to “I don’t actually have that many
      people who offend me.” In general, what these dudes are actually saying
      is “Ninety-time times out of a hundred, people acknowledge and support
      me, and I quietly assume that as my birthright. And that hundredth time
      someone doesn’t acknowledge me, well, that means I’m not easily

      Why Straight White Dudes Don’t Get Offended As Often As Normal People Do:

  • Neko

    Uuh did you miss the part right at the beginning about the selection process being blind? So you can keep the accusations to yourself until you can prove these people have X-ray vision in which case I’ll personally give you the Nobel prize for the discovery of the century.

    Also you have 70% of female students get into a prestige animation school, meaning that they have the skills, but only 20% end up working in animation. And here you are arguing about how women are being gifted passes for being women in a blind selection process at one school and that this proves that studios and schools are just giving away positions to women. The only thing more ridiculous than that is that you got upvoted.

    • guest

      I think the blind-selection process is a bunch of BS. No school would have the female population skyrocket twenty percent in four years without there being initiative on the schools part to improve their image. It’s not coincidental that this year in 2015 female representation in Cal Arts is now even higher than when it was at 71% in 2014. Don’t get me wrong the females that get into that school are gifted young people. I also think that female applicants can outperform men in their portfolios. Though calling the selection process blind seems really shady. I think you can tell what your getting based on looking at someones portfolio.

      The abrupt jump in female representation in four years is not just women suddenly getting better than men, there are other factors at work. How else can you explain the numbers jump in just a few years, its not women somehow magically out-merited men in the field.

      This shouldn’t be a gender thing anyway, Lisa Treiman even admitted that the boys club is shrinking in favor of fairer gender representation. We are transitioning away from the days where women were actually treated like dirt in the field. Were not fully at a perfect place yet, but enough progress has been made. In ten years a thread like Amid wrote here, will not even need to be written because I can virtually guarantee that many women will be in high ranking creative positions across the board by then. At least it appears that way based on the positive direction things are going now for women.

      Some of these commenter’s are so angry and unsatisfied that they probably wont be happy until women outnumber everyone else and the situation reverses itself. Some people are just to hard to please in this day and age. Half of these commenter’s feel like they have an axe to grind instead of thinking about how far the gender has come in crashing the boys club. Where’s the positivity?

      Also Purple People Eater aka L_Ron Hover upvoted my comment and has had firsthand professional experience on men being turned over in favor of women for positions in an effort for the studio to improve their image. So reverse sexism is possible, its just not reported. For L Ron and Chuck Dukowski to be treated like dirt by some of the commenter’s even though they have firsthand industry experience definitely shows that diversity of opinion is not accepted. I guess to be accepted on here we have continue to conform to the opinion that women are victims. It’s not truly the case anymore, if you are a proven asset to the company and can make them profit they will surely hire as many women as possible.

      Its not the forties or fifties, heck there are noticeable improvements from the nineties. I think that its fun for some people to continue the white male canard, even when they have not experienced what goes on in the field themselves.

      • Neko

        The article itself proposed the internet played a big part, and it does. Women seem to prefer animation and expressive character-driven art, while men are more drawn to technical work like concept art. I’m hardly surprised they are outnumbering men in a place like Calarts especially in recent years when such strong art communities have formed online with women at the centre. My own college has a 7:1 ratio of women in animation and the professors here are far from progressive, with some even complaining about the numbers. And of course, the recent influx of quality animation centering on female characters is enough to give a lot of girls a necessary “I might stand a chance of working on something like this” boost. There is no reason for an academy with an equal gender ratio to gift women passes for being women. Like, none.

        Also there is no positivity when there are still a ton of people like you who think women are making up that they are discriminated. Women still make up only 20% of animators. So this panic about women outnumbering men in something for a change is very unfounded. Basically, if you are female, you can get into college, you will have skills. But we are not going to give you a job. Oh, but if men outnumber women in something, that’s normal, it just means women aren’t interested. Obviously 70% of students at a prestige academy translating into 20% of workers is not a problem, right? I mean, you’re just a guy telling me women aren’t discriminated against, I’m sure you’ve personally experienced what’s up and if you don’t experience sexism against women, well, I can rest easy knowing it doesn’t happen.

        And also that CalArts has X-ray vision. That too.

        • guest

          I didn’t say that women are making up the discrimination. I said that we are transitioning away from a period in which women were actually treated unfairly based on their sex. Were not fully in a perfect place yet either, but compare where we are now to even a decade ago and you will see a difference. Another decade from now you will see even more differences.

          People are aware of the problem and have given artists like Daron Necfy and Rebecca Sugar opportunities that did not exist for women twenty years ago. I’m thinking in another twenty years the balance in gender representation will be so much better that there will be less need for an article like this.

          I see your point that high numbers at Cal Arts doesn’t transition to a good job in the field. I was making more assumptions on the school than the field itself. It seems strange there would be a 20% spike in a period as quick as four years. It seems suspicious to me and that there was other factors at play. You cant convince me that there was a blind selection process I don’t believe it for a second. Feel free to disagree, I don’t really care. Its just my opinion.

          I hope for a gender neutral industry just like the majority of people and women. This thread is more depressing than anything else. But I said to think positive because I think were in that direction of progress, despite some negative experiences on the part of these animators. Lisa Treimann proudly said that the tide is turning, and I respect her for making that point.

          However maybe even a more important point of mine is that have you ever thought that opportunities for both men and women are hard in this industry. Because animation is such a small niche industry that opportunities are scarce for both sexes and only the most competitive and connected in Hollywood will survive. I think that in general most male and female applicants get rejected, its not a field of job security. So at the end of the day anyone who makes it for several years in the industry should feel somewhat lucky. The odds are pitted against (both sexes) people in general when it comes to a successful outcome in the field. Many graduates wind up working side jobs or find a new field for income. That should be noted why many females and males don’t make it.

          I don’t necessarily think Sabrina should be that upset, she out competed others in an industry that like I said has little job security and is hard to get into for people in general. Additionally this article admits she had inexperience yet she got hired by a male? So a male took a chance on her despite her experience, yeah that surely sounds like discrimination to me. Yet despite all those opportunities she finds some reason to play the victim card. I believe that female discrimination exists in animation more so than male, but I wish Amid would find a better example than Sabrina Catugno.

          I also noticed that Chuck Dukowski and L_Ron Hoover got beaten up in the comments section for holding alternative viewpoints that there are situations of reverse sexism. I think people need to respect their experiences even if it does not come into agreement with their own opinions. Because their opinion was in the minority they were met with quite a bit of angry opposition. This thread proves that diversity of opinion is not accepted unless you conform to what most agree with.

          I can still see both sides of the argument so when responding to this Neko don’t say I think female discrimination is made up. I have seen women go through things that men would never be subjected to, largely because of wrongful preconceived notions on societies part. This isn’t really an animation thing more as its a society thing. You’ll find this in the sciences, medical community, and even literature. However that does not diminish my other points. When a few male animators argue that they have seen the situation go the opposite direction, people should respect their experience and professional opinion. People can happily disagree but do so while accepting viewpoints that may be in the minority but come from actual experience.

          Also I consider us to be reaching the light at the end of a really dark tunnel. So have patience this is the end of the dark ages not the beginning of a whole new era of shitty treatment.

  • Pennyjpie

    Some people genuinely can’t see these problems. I’m sorry, but there is an abundance of white men in the animation industry overall compared to women and people of color…I can see that over time it is getting more diverse though.

    Of course handwork will get you somewhere and I’m not saying those folks don’t deserve if up there, but as long as you can count on your fingers and toes how many women and people of color directed an major animated film (or film in general) in comparison to the many directed by white men, it’s kinda of hard to not see some kinda of division here. Something is stopping certain groups of people from getting hired, and it’s not just “lack of talent”.It’s not because these folks aren’t applying for jobs either cause lord knows everyone is.

  • Eli

    Two friends saw each other on the market
    Gina.- Hi Linn how are you?
    Linn- Oh Hi Gina ,fine! What’s up?
    Gina.-You never going to believe what happened the other day.
    Linn- What happened? ( the friend ask very worried)
    Gina- The other day i was cooking on the kitchen and my husband started chocking on a nut.
    Linn- Oh my God and what do you do?
    Gina- French toast!

    Pilar Menendez

  • Scott

    I don’t understand what you mean sweet Taco. Care to elaborate? I really don’t give a shit if I work with men or women. Yes, the best artists should rise to the top. That isn’t often the case. I’m trying not to say anything sexist. Of course I love women (and tacos) in general, and there are great male and female artists (who also love tacos). I’m just trying to speak a little truth. At work I only care whether people are doing their best work to inspire and have something of value to be proud of. And, truthfully I haven’t seen too much of that in TV animation. So if there is anything I’m glum about, it’s that if you’re a parent, you know that it’s very tough to pull it all together and have a happy life. So, having men and women full of animosity over work only adds to the stress levels and ultimately affects families (kids) and society. What many women don’t want to recognize or admit is that men and women are actually different! We have different emotional and physical leanings. I’d be happy to be a Mr. Mom if my wife would pull in the same income (btw, she prefers to not work full-time to be with the kids as much as possible). I think I could manage and probably do a good job as a homemaker. That’s actually a fantasy! But, I also think by nature, she is more nurturing and doesn’t have the physical stamina that I have. That’s us, but I think that’s true in general. I know some women will vehemently disagree, but I think they’re the minority an are unable to be honest about it. There are exceptions, and I do see overlapping (gender) roles happening, and confused young guys and girls working in animation trying to make sense of things. “Recap of Comments” down below can take what I say out of context, but she(?) doesn’t offer anything to the conversation. I’d approximate that 70% of the young women breaking in to animation that I’ve met aren’t interested in having kids. That’s not a joke or a slight, it’s an anomaly about women who work in animation.

  • Scott

    Well, I read that whole Buzz Feed article, and I think align most with Carole Holliday’s views. A lot of the other stuff I read was debatable. For instance, Nancy Beiman “debunking” stereotypes of how men and women move in animation. Of course a female character can walk with purpose: but she still has wider hips and typically a smaller frame. If you wanted the animation to read well, then it makes sense to have distinctions between how male characters move vs. females. Coming from her (not the most feminine of women), I can see why she may not recognize that (no offense). There is a wide spectrum that we look at these issues from and I think you have to look at it case by case to know where they’re coming from. Cotugno in that article seemed inexperience, bitter, and immature. As Jimhull explains in this thread, his story theories had a basis that she may be too young to grasp, albeit they could be faulty principles. Brenda Chapman is very accomplished and was contractually vague about what exactly happened on “Brave”. I’d take her at face value with her statement that is boiled down to “creative differences” with presumably, Lassetter. Any artist who feels micromanaged as she did, is going to have problems at work. Coats in that article sounded defeated. She seeks a hero to aspire to, and there are other women working in animation that could fill that role who she fails to recognize. Maybe she was too emotionally involved in what went down on “Brave”? What Berry and Gennis said about not feeling supported in their growth equally applies to guys. There is no difference there. Advancement is dependent on ability and confidence like what Carole Holliday talked about. Many a guy has resentment about not being recognized or treated fairly in the biz. And, the stuff that they talked about early in that article is from a different era, making it even more apparent how far we’ve come. Probably the best thing I’ve read on this topic is this:

    “I see it as more personality stuff than ‘male’ or ‘female,’” she said. “Which is probably why I have a different perspective than a lot of people. They’ll see it as misogyny, I just see it as, OK, we just didn’t click.” “I think people can blame gender or race [for] a lot of things. Sometimes it’s just, you’re not good,”-Carole Holliday

    If you can’t accept that, then you don’t really understand what a ‘boys club’ really is. Boys don’t hate girls; to the contrary!

    • Not a housewife

      I cannot believe… Just wow. What presumptuous accusations. These women’s experiences and stories are not up for debate. And how dare you even imply a women needs to be “classically feminine” in order to animate different types of bodies and characters. All you did was to criticize the women who spoke out about their personal experiences and try to discredit them.

      For every single guy that feels “unfairly treated,” I’ll show you ten women. No one is saying that men NEVER deal with these same issues but you are truly misguided if you think that warrants your outright insults. (NO OFFENSE.)

      • Scott

        I think you misunderstood me, or dare I say are getting emotional about what I wrote? Suddenly, it seems “emotional” is a bad or weak trait – it isnt! I’m not debating their experiences or stories. It’s their perceptions or take-awats that I’m debating. Ive met at least 3 of them. I just said I think they each had different points of view. Carole Holliday’s seemed the least biased. Regarding perceptions, i disagree with what Beiman said about no distinction between how men and women move based on physiology alone. She knows how to animate well, so I was trying understand why she may not see or perceive those physiological and gender differences. Is it an insult to say she isn’t the most feminine of women, and therefor may not see those distinctions? You can’t draw or animate what you don’t see. That’s not to say she can’t animate well. Is it insulting to categorize someone among a range of masculinity or femininity? Or, do you think there are no distinctions and therefor people arent influenced by their perceptions, preferences or observations? I wasn’t trying to be insulting toward her. But, I’m not afraid to debate that subject either. Regarding your last statement that is meaningless to me. You’re throwing out arbitrary numbers and I disagree. I know plenty of guys who are frustrated about their work experiences to know that you don’t know what you’re talking about. If you’re talking about sexual misconduct, that’s different. And there are effective ways to end that behavior.

        • Cristin McKee

          If your argument is that Beiman isn’t very feminine and thus doesn’t see the difference between animating male and female characters, than do you mean to say that all men are worse than women at animating female characters? I’m just trying to follow your logic because I don’t think that’s the point you want to make. I’d like to think professional animators of both genders can think outside the box more than that and you are doing Beiman a great disservice here by blaming how she looks on how she animates.

  • Yoko

    [Comment removed by editors. Per our commenting guidelines, “Use a single username on a comments thread so that other readers know who they are communicating with.”]

  • Lizbit

    Creating any parallels between the genders of the students and story structure is going to a place that is just made-up-bloggy-gobbily-gook. Jim Hull is simply not a story artist. The industry knows it and CalArts should also know it. A professional storyteller or storyboard artist directly means that that person can teach from real experience- not simply guess work and projection.

    • jimhull

      I’m not sure how this turned into a personal attack on me, but realize that’s what happens when people have difficulty staying on topic and defending their point of view.

      Prior to teaching at CalArts I was a storyboard artist for Chuck Jones (you may have heard of him), I directed television and I optioned a feature at Dreamworks. Since my strength in storytelling rests in seeing the “big picture”, I had several story artists come in and fill in the gaps when it came to the nuts and bolts of storyboarding. I’ve always felt that CalArts was more than just a trade school and thus, geared my class accordingly. There are those who found it invaluable and those who I guess didn’t. I suspect the former will have an easier time getting their ideas across in story rooms and pitch meetings.

      As far as “Linear is code for clear thinking”–that’s so far off the mark I’m not even sure where to start. One isn’t better than the other and people aren’t 100% linear in their problem-solving or 100% holistic. They might have been back in the caveman days (for survival reasons), but nowadays they’re more of a mixed bag. As far as me personally, I have a tendency towards more linear problem-solving, but it is a sliding scale. If you’re interested in where you might fit in on the scale or how this all applies to theory, I wrote some more about it here:

  • David Zweig

    To all the creative women in the male-dominated art forms of film, animation and video games (not to mention other areas like science, tech and of course the corner office):

    You will forever be caught in a difficult place until you follow the sagely advice of one of your own:

    “Women have been trained in our culture and society to ask for what we want instead of taking what we want. We’ve been really indoctrinated with this culture of permission. I think it’s true for women, and I think it’s true for people of color. It’s historic, and it’s unfortunate and has somehow become part of our DNA. But that time has passed.”

    – Ava DuVernay, Director of the Academy Award Nominated “Selma”
    (who was stupidly and un-ironically not nominated as Best Director).

    DuVernay has laid the ground work for the next generation of female filmmakers and creatives. Women must be fearless, tough, cunning and always aware of how your actions affect those around them. It’s not fair, but it’s true. No one will give you anything—you have to simply be the best person on the crew, demand opportunities (and make good on them), and raise your hand first when the extra effort is needed. Gender virtually disappears when someone is an outright bad-ass.

    As a Senior Creative Director, I actually slightly prefer to have women on my crews as opposed to men. Women work harder, collaborate more effectively, are better at taking feedback, more adept at improving a brand, and are overall better team players. Guys can be fantastic as well, but my experience slightly tips the scales toward the women.

    But really, ladies…I’d give you the same advice that I give every man: if you want something, you’re going to have to work harder than anyone else to get it. Harder. Than. Anyone. Else. Nothing is given in the creative world…it is only taken.

    After all, I’m counting on you all to make things better for my daughter when she graduates from college…in about twelve years. So chin up. Don’t give up. And keep up the good work.

  • Harrison Jaegermeister

    Nice that they clipped out the context of that image.I mean how can you push your narrative if all women aren’t down with it.

  • Luna Cho

    Nah, your whole comment sounds like somebody who can’t deal with the idea that men aren’t inherently more skilled than women in animation, and that sometimes men get turned down for jobs because they simply aren’t up to the task, despite the statistical fact that men are still drastically overrepresented in pretty much all visual arts fields including animation. Claiming that women get hired in the arts just for being women, and that they aren’t qualified or skilled in their own right, is so bogus.

  • Scott

    The section I (regrettably) cited to show that some of the women in that article said was debatable (which you chastised me for) is this one:

    the head of animation on Frozen claimed the faces of female characters were “really, really difficult” to animate. This statement compelled Nancy Beiman, a longtime animator who is now a professor at Sheridan College, to include a section in a new edition of her animation textbook debunking the notion that there is something inherently masculine about certain movements: “There are any number of women who can walk with direction, with a sense of purpose,” she said in a phone interview.

    I don’t want to continue arguing against the notion that there is anything inherently masculine or feminine about certain movements. I still disagree. But, I have nothing against Nancy Bieman. And I think she and I would agree more than disagree about animation. The section you quoted of hers. I agree with. It’s still interesting (and meaningful) to me that you chose that as your moniker, “Not a housewife”. That pretty much spells out where you’re coming from. And, I know it wasn’t something didn’t think about first. You felt the need to point out that you don’t identify with housewives. Why? My being “boarder line offended” comment was basically tongue in cheek. The offense is that certain women don’t seem to recognize that men are in fact anatomically built and wired differently than women. Which is we seem to be arguing. And, I’d again like to point you back to Carole Holliday’s views about this topic, because I agree with her.

    • Not a housewife

      Again, “Not a housewife” was used in another subject and I carried it over. It’s a simple statement, I am not one and just have no plans to be one. Just personal choice for me. I adore stay-at-home moms. More power to them.

      And we’re not debating the mechanics of motion in animation. I was saying your approach was insulting and I felt you read too much into Beiman’s quote as her complete analysis of the subject. I’m sure her book explains more thoroughly the topic at hand. We all know that a “stereotypical” man walks different than a “stereotypical” woman. But there’s no reason not to animate either gender with the opposite motions. That’s the concept here.

      • Scott

        “Not a housewife”, I’d mostly like to know if you agree with Carole Holliday’s assessments that it’s mostly an issue of chemistry among people and the hard truth that maybe the imbalances people are arguing about are [perhaps] MORE of a meritocracy than misogyny. I’ve seen plenty of nonsense and seemingly gender bias from BOTH men and women in animation. Being a guy and accustomed to how guys act, I notice more of how women play the game – for better or worse. But, I’m not dumb enough to make blanket statements without the benefit of doubt.

        • Not a housewife

          I believe chemistry plays a part, sure. And we’re progressing in the right direction. But I think for a long time it did boil down to bros only wanting to work with bros. I don’t think anyone can argue against misogyny ruling the early days of animation, since that is very apparent.

          It’s just frustrating for women to voice their experiences and their challenges just for men to jump in try to dismiss it. Let’s just accept that some women have the luxury of not having to jump hurdles but most do.

          It’s still engrained in our culture but again… we’re going in the right direction.

          • Scott

            I think this whole argument went off the rails when I used Beiman’s point as an example of something I found debatable in that article. I felt you read between the lines of what I said or meant like the way you felt I misrepresented your moniker or terminology. If I was wrong, I do apologize, and I hope for your own sake. that you see why I made those connections. At least we seemed able to get closer to the center of this whole topic. I’ll concede that our culture has probably conditioned women to feel like they have (more) hurdles to jump and are in a more vulnerable position because of that. Hopefully, attitudes change and we can operate more in the middle instead of polarized points of view. And, we are going in the right direction, because I see women doing things today that they just didn’t do when I was young, because of the traditional gender roles we played. I can’t understand why any heterosexual man would ever want to exclude women from the workplace, other than some type of threat to the status quo which is generally a guarded state for those empowered.

      • Scott

        Btw, I doubt any stay-at-home moms would say they “adore” working moms or working non-moms, like it’s something ‘cute’. I personally have a lot of respect for families who value that decision. I think it’s promising for society to have people who are able to manage that. I also understand it can be necessary to have two working parents to make ends meet.

        • Not a housewife

          I was lucky enough to have a stay-at-home mom. And i ADORE my mom. She’s amazing. And she’s CUTE. I think it’s a great situation if families can do it. Don’t try twist my words into something negative when it’s about amazing hardworking moms. Just because I’m “Not a housewife” it doesn’t mean I don’t absolutely respect that decision.

          • AmidAmidi

            I think this conversation has been exhausted by all parties. Please move on. Thanks.