LA Times Reflects on Toon Town Gender Imbalance

The Los Angeles Times reached out to major college-level animation programs to explore the rising tide of women enrolling to study the art form, and the way that hiring in the industry has yet to fairly reflect this trend. The article by reporter Deborah Vankin notes that women make up the majority of students at acclaimed schools like CalArts (71%), USC’s John C. Hench Division (65%), UCLA’s master’s in animation (est. 68%) and Ringling College’s computer animation program (70%). However, women make up just 21% of artists, writers and technicians employed under an Animation Guild contract this year.

“They come out of art school and aren’t hired for the creative jobs,” Marge Dean, co-president of the nonprofit advocacy group Women in Animation, told the paper. “They end up being PAs [production assistants] or on the production management track, the housekeepers and the organizers as opposed to the creators.”

Despite great strides being made for women in animation, such as the appointment of Bonnie Arnold and Mireille Soria as co-presidents of DreamWorks Animation features and successful TV series created by women — such as Daron Nefcy’s Star vs. The Forces of Evil and Rebecca Sugar’s Steven Universe — the business has yet to catch up to the surge in women pursuing careers there. The piece also offers some insight from Brave director Brenda Chapman, who discusses her replacement by Mark Andrews during the film’s production.

“When I look at some of the young women filmmakers trying to get into the studio system, they’re just so grateful to have a job they’ll do whatever is asked of them,” Chapman said. “But I’ve seen a few that have a spark, and I think, ‘They’re going to push it when they get further along.’ I’m hoping that happens.”

You can read the full article at the LA Times website.

CalArts Animation director Maija Burnett,
CalArts Animation director Maija Burnett,


  1. There’s a difference between imbalance of gender and positions earned.

    I work in a studio with plenty of women in all positions. They earned their jobs through their own hard work.

    This article paints the idea that because a large amount of women are in college then they deserve to be hired? If they work hard and EARN it then they will get the job.

    If the numbers aren’t 50/50 in the studio, that doesn’t reflect imbalance. It just shows who made the effort to work for it rather than call out to studios to take on more women, regardless of skill level.

    • people ‘just dont want it bad enough/won’t work hard enough’? come on

      like do not pretend that its a pure meritocracy, untainted by gender biases or prejudices. that’s not true in any other industry, it’s not true in the animation industry

      • I don’t know how familiar you are with the hiring process of an animation studio.

        But most of the time people just submit videos of what they’re able to animate or draw.

        face to face interviews are rare before hiring. And thats because they don’t care about your gender or your ethnicity or quirks. They only care if you are able to meet the requirements of the job.

        And starting out from school, most have an in-studio test for everyone just to make sure you’re able to work fast and efficient.

        If you can perform well, you get the job. If you don’t meet the standards, I’ve watched quite a few of both genders walk.


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