Seattle Moves… or at least half of Seattle

Yesterday a colleague and I (both of us women) went to a panel discussion on video and motion graphics at Northwest Film Forum, called Seattle Moves. We were intrigued, because we are both involved in motion graphics and video projects from time to time, and they promised to show some of their latest work. It’s always good to see what people in town are working on. Plus, motion work being such an evolving field, it’s nice to get a peek behind the scenes at the technologies involved.

We found a couple of aisle seats in the second row, and sat facing a panel of 8 men. 7 White, 1 Asian. Not really surprising, as both the design field and the video industry are pretty much white male dominated in Seattle. I’ve been working at business owned and run by men… forever. And, hey, I like men…. mostly, so more power to ’em if they do good work.

All these guys do excellent work. Superfad does crazy 2d-3d animation. Oh, Hello impressed me with their level of work in cell animation, motion graphics, and live video editing – especially since they all appeared to be about twelve years old. Digital Kitchen have been around forever and showed their new tv show open for the HBO series True Blood, which is even more cool for the fact that it was produced entirely with technologies available 30 years ago.

They all showed their latest reels (montages of latest work). All three reels were impressive in their production values and all three feature tits and ass. Big surprise? No, of course not. Sex sells. Naked ladies sell. These guys are essentially selling things, so… what else is new? But, really, how lame. We’re stuck with female objectification, and not a single woman on the panel to talk about the work.

It wasn’t surprising, then, that the first question from the audience was, “where are all the women?” Apart from on the screen naked, that is. They all rambled off a few women they work with as designers or animators. They all said Of Course they’d love to see more talented women in the field, and then one of the younger ones said, “they just seem to lean more toward being producers.” And he’s completely right. But it’s not because that’s what they set out to do.

It’s becuase women, historically and currently, are pigeonholed into roles taking care of the details that men can’t be bothered with. Most men don’t realize they’re doing it. And most women don’t really see it, either. They move toward things they feel they are good at, as everyone does. They feel better at things they get more positive reinforcement for doing. Got a creative idea? Gently rejected. Put together a project schedule? Praised and thanked. I notice because I have been getting this for years. And I know I’m not better at creating project schedules than I am at complex creative problem-solving.

So the glass ceiling remains intact, and we keep nudging it higher. Breaking through might cause injury, so we’re going to have to will it to evaporate, somehow. Meanwhile, pay more attention to the roles that attract women, and ask why.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. minimcr says:

    Working as I do in a related and similarly male-dominated industry – web development – I find this very interesting, and true. I can think of precisely one other female dev I’ve worked with in 13 years developing websites, and I strongly suspect that it’s a good thing I’m happy to be a jobbing dev and not trying to climb any sort of ladder in the industry because I suspect I’d end up knocking my head on that glass ceiling!


    1. kittyireland says:

      You’re quite right. I work with a lot of developers (as much of my work is in interactive media), and all of them are men. Every last one. I don’t go out of my way to seek out female developers because there’s no need with so many good male ones. I think (hope) this will change as more women grow up with constant access to technology.


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