The animation industry, which has remained relatively resilient throughout the pandemic, continues to defy the times. The number of women working in studios appears to be rising, even as women are leaving the wider workforce in droves.
According to The Animation Guild (TAG), which represents a large portion of the Los Angeles industry, the proportion of women working at union studios has risen from 28% in 2019 to 30.4% in 2020, and again to 31.6% as of this month. As recently as 2015, the number was only 20.6%. The absolute number of women currently working at union studios is around 1,725. (The current number of 31.6% represents a modern-era high, but it’s not possible to know if this is an all-time high since the Guild has not kept data for its entire 70-year history, and a large contingent of the union used to be inkers and painters, a discipline largely dominated by women.)
Meanwhile, data released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that 2.5 million women have left the nation’s workforce since the start of the pandemic, compared with 1.8 million men. For women, the burdens of childcare and educational support have disproportionately exacerbated the job insecurity caused by Covid. Vice president Kamala Harris has described the situation as a “national emergency.”