New Study Finds Only 3% of Animated Movies Were Directed by Women

The world of animation has evolved in some interesting ways over the past decade-or-so, but a new study reveals ways in which the industry is still lacking. New findings by the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative (via Variety) reveal just how frequently animation studios place women in key roles behind the camera. Amongst the report was the reveal that out of the past twelve years of animated movies, only 3% were directed by women. Only one woman on that list, Kung Fu Panda 2 director Jennifer Yuh Nelson, was a woman of color.

One could easily argue that this lack of gender diversity ends up being reflected back onto the big screen. 17% of the top 120 highest-grossing animated films featured a female protagonist or co-protagonist, and only three of those movies was about a woman of color.

The television side of animation ended up being slightly more diverse, with 13% of animated television episodes last year having female directors. Three of the women on that list were not white. In terms of the content itself, female characters made up 39% of the credited cast of animated television pilots, with 12% of them being women of color.

Interestingly enough, the animation world is proving to be a bit more inclusive outside of directors and stars, as roughly half of the executives are women. Animated movies also see significantly more female producers, with 37%, compared to the 15% of live-action films. Animated television saw similar statistics, with women making up 34% of producers and 20% of executive producers. Women of color only made up 6% of executive producers and 8% of producers.

“The proportion of women in this leadership role in animation, and the progress made in the last decade indicates that there are spaces where the industry is taking inclusion seriously and affecting change,” Dr. Stacy L. Smith, the center’s founder and director, said in a statement. “However, only 5% of producers of animated films and 1% of live action producers were women of color. The movie industry is completely out of step with the audience in this regard.”

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With all of these stats in mind, will certainly be interesting to see what the future holds for women in animation, both in front of and behind the camera. 2019 has yet to have a major animated film directed by woman, but both Abominable (directed by Jill Culton) and Frozen 2 (co-directed by Jennifer Lee) are still on the way. None of the major animated film scheduled for 2020 or beyond have a female director or co-director.

What do you think of this data surrounding women in the animation world? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!