Written by Zedar Thokme-Wong from Cebas Visual Technologies
View the original article here

Where has all our women gone? (‘where has all the flowers gone?)

“Animation Guild statistics show that only 16% of people working in creative or rendering jobs in animation are women.”

If our cebas Visual Technology FaceBook fanpages were anything to go by as a micro-view of gender distribution in the 3D /VFX general career advancement then, our recent data suggests that we need more women to come aboard and imagine the boundless dimensions of 3D art and animation. We are talking of a gaping gap of 92%-7% !

cebas Visual Technology data analytics for Facebook fans.

Needless to say, resolution 2015, cebas Visual Technology would like to try and encourage more women interest in 3D /VFX art work. I figure that’s about the toughest challenge a company can take on. Especially since many socio-economic factors are involved.

This gender imbalance in the VFX industry was noticed as early on as 2006, although I am sure it is a much, much more earlier phenomenon, but why spend time digging known facts? The main point is 8 years hence, and the womenfolk have not picked up much in the 3D /VFX art industries.

If we look at the Variety.com 2014 figures and scroll right to the bottom: their research shows that only 5% of women made it as VFX supervisors. In all counts, for media and film production jobs, women makes up a considerably smaller percentage than men.

The Dip

“Breaking down the percentages of women working on 2013 films by job category:
** Directors: 6%, down 3% from 2012 and 1998
** Writers: 10%, down 5% from 2012 and 3% from 1998
** Producers: 25%, even with 2012 and up 1% from 1998
** Exec producers: 15%, down 2% from 2012 and 3% from 1998
** Editors: 17%: down 3% from 2012 and 1998
** Cinematographers: 3%, up 1% from 2012 and down 1% from 1998
In the below-the-line categories, the survey examined the gender breakdown for 1,026 jobs. (Comparative data is not available for all categories.)
** Production designers: 23%, up 3% from 2008 (when the stats were last compiled)
** Sound designers: 4%, down 1% from 2008
** Supervising sound editors: 9%, up 4% from 2008
** vfx supervisors: 5%

Remember Pixar Animation’s ‘Brave’ ?

One of the socio factors of this gaping gap could be the Venus vs Mars mentality in the two genders. Witness the ‘the brave new girl’ of Pixar’s ‘Brave’-fame: Brenda Chapman (see also “Brenda Chapman speaks about role of women in animation“), who ironically lost her creative role in the movie after she butted head with John Lasseter, Pixar’s Chief Creative Officer. This makes one wonder.. if the missing ladies at 3D /VFX operations are due to the oft-quoted 16-hour-too-long job nature issues or, a Venus-Mars difference in how the genders view creative, art-directed roles and pipeline processes? The ubiquitous left-right brain question.

Have the notion of women being better at right-brain visual-spatial activities vis-a-vis the men’s left-brain logics been over-ruled? Not really. We see a similar lack of women in computing works such as software development, but not web design (more right-brain)…. and no problem with the imaginative aspects of 3D / VFX. My understanding is at the actual pipeline production stage of technical directorship – a lot of macro-, scripting and programming is required – and here is where the male becomes dominant. Here is where the women have to start enhancing their coding (left-brain) skills! Otherwise, production politics of how to integrate technology and art-directedness crops up… and you know who is out when head butts.

The ‘Glam’ factor: 2013-2014 Women of Media Awards.

In 2013, Sue Rowe of Vancouver, was the first ever VFX at the Supervisory level for Method Studio (she has since moved on to Escape Studios), to have been shortlisted for the Women of Media Awards (Women’s Media Center). She was and may still be,

  • One of only two female visual effects supervisors in the world;
  • The only female VFX supervisor in the UK;
  • The only woman on the long list of Oscar nominees for Disney’s John Carter in 2013.

See Sue Rowe’s interview on Escape Studios blog: Women in VFX(http://www.escapestudios.com/women-in-vfx/)

This year the 2014 Women of Media Awards had an awesome line up of women in senior executive power positions for media, however, none this year for VFX work. The SLP Productions’ 2014 winners probably came closest to creative CG arts being recognized (where recognition is sorely needed). To me, the back-office ‘underground’ 3D/ VFX women art-workers have just as little exposure as their male counterparts in terms of public appeal. Can you name the ten top male 3D / VFX artists? It’s the lack of glam-appeal! So the imbalance of power play is also women-on-women and less glamorous/ influential roles have twice as much an uphill battle! Women awards itself needs to uplift the less ‘glam’ side (technical) in the variety of fields.

And by the way, you can see that awards given in recognition of women’s contribution came mostly from women alliances and organizations but when it is the world out-there where men rules, women had a slimmer chance of winning an award.


It is not a simple clarion call of gender biases, read….”Marvel’s Vice President of Post Production, Victoria Alonso, who also asked “where are the girls?” at the 2014 VES Summit, whereby she called for more women to work in VFX.” Obviously, some folks in the industry feels that Alonso herself does not walk her talk (read article). That’s what I mean by WOMEN-on-women. Women too, has to diversify how they reach out and help other careers (not just the glamour side).

In the VES discussion, another comment came from Scott Ross, digital media executive,…”Perhaps there’s a gender gap because more women aren’t as foolish as the majority of men who choose to jump in the shark tank that is the VFX industry?”

Well,.. there are a lot of ‘shark tanks’ in the job market, not just VFX, and there are many women swimming and sinking in these tanks so, I do feel Scott’s comment is exactly what makes it more challenging for the ladies to have a foot in the door, despite its reality check.

Reality check? Enter this two URL Searches: http://thecgbros.com/ andhttp://thecgsis.com.

Well… cebas Visual Technology invites you to share and re-post this article, especially to young ladies and mid-career change woman interested in entering the 3D / VFX market – try http://www.cebas.com