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July 14, 2013

women in animation 2013

by sven at 1:56 pm

While putting films in sequence for this year's NW Animation Fest, I was struck by the scarcity of female characters. Because gender interests me, I decided to throw together some quick statistics to study what's going on.

My data set consists of the 154 films that were selected for screening at our 2013 festival. Here's what I found:

(In the program, who did we list on the film's "created by" line?)
66% Male
19% Female
15% both / name of studio only

66% Male
20% Female
14% none (abstract or unidentifiable)

If we stopped there, you might guess that men exclusively make films about men, and women make films about women. But there's actually a stronger bias at work.

72% Male protagonist
12% Female protagonist
17% abstract, or gender of protagonist is unidentifiable

41% Male protagonist
48% Female protagonist
10% abstract, or gender of protagonist is unidentifiable

(creators of more than one gender listed, or name of studio only)
83% Male protagonist
13% Female protagonist
4% abstract, or gender of protagonist is unidentifiable

What I see here is that when women make a film, they create female protagonists about 1/2 the time. But when men make films, they create male protagonists about 3/4 the time. Group projects feature male protagonists about 4/5 the time.

It seems intuitive that artists would have a bias toward creating protagonists that look like themselves. But this is not really the case. Women seem to have a fairly egalitarian interest in both men and women. Men, in contrast, tend to take a male-identified point of view.

posted by sven | July 14, 2013 1:56 PM | categories: nw animation festival, writing