Only 3% of Recent Animation Movie Hits Were Directed By Women

A new study on animation movies attests that women's creativity is criminally underused.

This Monday, a study by the Women in Animation nonprofit organization and the USC's Annenberg Inclusion Initiative (which specializes in gender studies related to movies and TV) showed that big-screen animation lacked women directors, female characters and more generally women in key creative roles.

This study focused on 1 200 movies, all released between 2007 and 2018. It informs us that only 3% of directors were, in fact, women. We were already aware of the cruel lack of gender equality in the movie industry, but these new statistics come as a bit of a shock. Among these women directors, there's only one woman of color: Korean director Jennifer Yuh Nelson who's behind the second outing of the Kung Fu Panda franchise.


The number of women producers is on the rise

In the meantime, it's important to note that there are more women producers than directors: 37% of producing roles in selected animation movies are filled by women (and only 5% by women of color). To give a fair comparison, live-action movies only include 15% of women producers, with just 1% of women belonging to a minority.

This study also shines a light on a cruel lack of diversity in regard to fictional characters. As a matter of fact, out of all 120 animated movies that were considered successful, the study indicates there's only 17% of main female characters – such as Moana or Frozen – and just about 3% of these films portray a character of color.


These new statistics enhance the obstacles that women may encounter in this industry. Male domination at multiple high-ranking jobs clearly has an incidence on these movies' production and how producing companies work in general.

"This study validates what we have known all along, that women are a hugely untapped creative resource in the animation industry", Marge Dean, Women in Animation's president, explains. The organization aims for total gender equality by 2025: "Now that we have a greater understanding of how the numbers fall into place and what solutions may help rectify this deficiency, we can take bigger strides towards our goal of 50-50 by 2025."

By Lucille Bion, published on 11/06/2019