Women in VFX

Image credits – YouTube Diversity is something that most industries should have figured out by now. However, a quick look back at the last few years should tell you that things aren’t the way they’re supposed to be. From the whole Gamergate Controversy to the disappointing diversity figures at Silicon Valley, the fact still remains that women aren’t being given their due. But, there is some hope out there as companies like Apple and Google are implementing strategies to close the gender gap. However, this isn’t the case with the VFX industry. In fact, the industry isn’t even interested in addressing the issue. The few minor attempts to bring up the topic have been shot down in the past by industry specific publications. What does it take for us to have a proper conversation about gender discrimination? Recently, Victoria Alonso, Executive VP for VFX at Marvel, spoke to the Visual Effects Society, where she persuaded the “boy’s club” to include women. She stated that bringing in women only helped strike a balance. However, Alonso isn’t well-liked by many members of the VFX industry. Some blame her cost reduction strategies as one of the key factors affecting the VFX industry today. 2 Image credits – Wikimedia Naturally, her poor reputation and also, her gender, led to the dismissal of her statements. The Blame Game VFX companies are having a hard time and that cannot be debated. This is mainly due to a business model that relies on subsidies. Short contracts and long working hours have completely drained the average VFX worker. But, despite the struggle within, the box office numbers paint a very different picture. VFX accounts for more than 50% of the blockbusters that are churned out by Hollywood, which has elevated the industry’s status in terms of cultural significance. So, it’s only natural for people to get shocked when they see the lack of female participation. However, instability does plague the industry and that makes it all the more difficult to talk about gender. But, to put the complete blame on instability is foolish. There no denying that there is an inherent bias against women exists in the VFX industry. For instance, technology companies have systems in place that allow them to collect diversity data. Nothing of that sort exists in a VFX firm, despite the fact that the VFX industry imports heavily from the tech industry. As a result, one doesn’t even have the data to point out the gender bias that exists here or bring up a conversation about it. A common assertion held in VFX is that women simply do not want to pursue a career in an industry that is rife with problems. Even if it were true, it is still necessary to consider the possibility that not all of them opt out for the same reasons. The Solution Like their tech counterparts, VFX firms must change their hiring practices. More importantly, the focus must be on performance evaluation, distribution of responsibilities, and an observation on how the problems affecting such practices lead to gender bias. This is necessary to identify the bias against women and put an end to it whenever possible.
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