On the Up­swing

Un­der co-pres­i­dents Kristy Scan­lan and Marge Dean, the revamped Women in An­i­ma­tion has seen un­prece­dented growth. By Tom McLean.

Animation Magazine - - Opportunities -

It’s been 20 years since Women in An­i­ma­tion was founded with a vi­sion of “help­ing women share fully in the cre­ation, pro­duc­tion and re­wards of an­i­ma­tion.” The or­ga­ni­za­tion has had its ups and downs over the years, but rarely has it seen a boom in in­ter­est like it has since fall 2013, when Marge Dean and Kristy Scan­lan took over as co-pres­i­dents.

The group’s mem­ber­ship has, since then, shot up from 120 ac­tive mem­bers to more than 800; and WIA chap­ters have popped up in 10 ci­ties, with more show­ing in­ter­est. And with women mak­ing up at least half — if not more — of the stu­dents in art and an­i­ma­tion schools, the fu­ture holds tremen­dous po­ten­tial for WIA to grow and work to­ward mak­ing its vi­sion a re­al­ity.

Scan­lan, VP of business de­vel­op­ment, an­i­ma­tion & games at Tech­ni­color, says she and Dean, di­rec­tor of pro­duc­tion for Mat­tel’s Play­ground Pro­duc­tions, were ap­proached to take over run­ning WIA in the fall of 2012, and took their time fig­ur­ing out what they wanted to do be­fore they took over.

“One of the things that we heard a lot was that peo­ple wanted an el­e­vated pro­file,” says Scan­lan. “I think that a lot of peo­ple see the group of women we put to­gether on our board of direc­tors and our ad­vis­ers and our com­mit­tees, and they want to get in­volved be­cause they want to get to know those women.”

The group’s mis­sion state­ment is to “bring to­gether a global com­mu­nity of an­i­ma­tion pro­fes­sion­als to em­power and support women in the art, sci­ence and business of an­i­ma­tion by in­creas­ing ac­cess to re­sources, cre­at­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties for ed­u­ca­tion, en­cour­ag­ing strong con­nec­tions be­tween in­di­vid­u­als, and in­spir­ing ex­cel­lence.” That in­cludes five ar­eas of fo­cus: aware­ness, ad­vo­cacy, net­work­ing, com­mu­nity and schol­ar­ship.

Com­mu­nity is a key com­po­nent for many women who join the group, Scan­lan says. With women com­pris­ing 18 per­cent to 20 per­cent of the cre­ative work force in an­i­ma­tion, many are in sit­u­a­tions where they work almost ex­clu­sively with men.

WIA has put on a se­ries of well-at­tended events and launched a pi­lot men­tor­ing pro­gram that drew 140 ap­pli­cants for eight po­si­tions. Scan­lan says the re­sponse was so pos- itive that the group had 40 to 50 women in­ter­ested in be­ing men­tors for the six-month pro­gram. “We’re gath­er­ing in­for­ma­tion to see how that’s work­ing out and then we’ll roll out the men­tor­ing pro­gram in a big­ger way in 2015,” Scan­lan says.

A big part of the group’s growth has come abroad, with WIA groups pop­ping up in about 10 ci­ties around the world, with more in­ter­ested in form­ing. Cur­rent chap­ters in­clude Dublin, Mon­treal, New York, San Francisco, Toronto, Van­cou­ver and Pune, In­dia.

In­flux of Tal­ent

One of the key is­sues fac­ing the group is the ris­ing num­ber of women at­tend­ing art schools and study­ing an­i­ma­tion as a ca­reer. Cur­rent classes at top an­i­ma­tion pro­grams are at least 50 per­cent fe­male with some as high as 75 per­cent fe­male. The group sees it as im­por­tant to help move the nee­dle from the 18 to 20 per­cent rate of women em­ployed in the an­i­ma­tion cre­ative work force to 50 per­cent.

“I think the per­cep­tion is that things have im­proved, but when you look at the per­cent­ages — not only at fe­male cre­ators and peo­ple work­ing in the business, but also fe­male voices rep­re­sented on screen and fe­male char­ac­ters rep­re­sented on screen — the per­cent­ages are quite low,” Scan­lan says.

WIA mem­bers spec­u­late about the pos­si­ble rea­sons for this dis­con­nect con­stantly, Scan­lan says, with few easy an­swers. “Why are they not get­ting the jobs? That’s what we’re look­ing at. That’s what we’re try­ing to fix. We’re try­ing to en­cour­age women to support other women and give other women a break, and we’re also try­ing to en­cour­age men to support women.”

And with women’s is­sues prom­i­nent in the zeit­geist, Scan­lan says now is an ideal time to grow the group, dis­cuss its goals and push to­ward reach­ing them. “Any­one that be­lieves in our vi­sion and mis­sion state­ment can join the or­ga­ni­za­tion; it doesn’t have to just be women, it doesn’t have to just be peo­ple who ex­clu­sively work in an­i­ma­tion,” she says.

“We’re talk­ing to a lot of peo­ple who work in visual ef­fects and in video games and I’m talk­ing to theme-park peo­ple, too, so we’re re­ally try­ing to ex­pand our reach and build our mem­ber­ship base into a pow­er­house global or­ga­ni­za­tion.” For more in­for­ma­tion on Women in An­i­ma­tion, visit its web­site at www.wom­eni­nan­i­ma­tion.org. Bon­nie Arnold, chair, pro­ducer,

DreamWorks An­i­ma­tion Jenna Boyd, se­nior VP an­i­ma­tion

de­vel­op­ment, Nick­elodeon Margie Cohn, head of tele­vi­sion,

DreamWorks An­i­ma­tion Susan Grode, Kat­ten Law Lenora Hume, pro­duc­tion & pro­gram­ming ex­ec­u­tive for Shut Up! Cartoons and Los An­ge­les rep­re­sen­ta­tive for TeamTO Ann Le Cam, VP of hu­man re­sources and pro­duc­tion plan­ning, Walt Dis­ney An­i­ma­tion Stu­dios Jan Nagel, en­ter­tain­ment mar­ket­ing diva Ju­lia Pis­tor, ex­ec­u­tive pro­ducer and

con­sul­tant at Mat­tel Ad­ina Pitt, VP con­tent ac­qui­si­tions & co-pro­duc­tions, Car­toon Net­work and Boomerang Richard Sigler, en­ter­tain­ment at­tor­ney Rita Street, pro­ducer

Women in An­i­ma­tion co-pres­i­dent Marge Dean speaks at one of the group’s many popular events.

Kristy Scan­lan

Marge Dean

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