Marge Dean: Breaking Down Barriers for the Animated Creative Workforce
Emmy-Award winner Margaret Dean is the Head of Studio for SKYBOUND, the home of Invincible and The Walking Dead, and is responsible for the production of original content and studio operations. Inspired at an early age by dramatic black and white films from the 30s and 40s, Marge discovered the moving image as an art student and delved into her passion for visual storytelling through animation. Known for building studios and animation pipelines, Marge has been responsible for the design or re-design of several studios, and as President of Women in Animation, she is a recognized global leader in advancing women in the field of animation.
As the head of a studio, you are responsible for creating and nurturing the culture, where everyone feels they belong. What I work to do is instill a space that embraces mentoring – not only to expand and diversify the workforce, but because it lends a strong sense of inspiration and community. The flow of shared experience, knowledge and support is critical to building a collaborative environment. Women in Animation’s mentoring program is our most successful initiative and demand continues to grow. What is truly exciting is that our formal mentorship matches planted the seeds to grow new networks. I don’t think you can make your way in this often-challenging industry without people who share their lessons learned, foster your talents and provide encouragement – and as someone who benefitted from great mentors, I’m proud to be in a position to pay this forward.
I was a single working parent early in my career, and the issue of balancing a career and family is highly personal. I was able to figure out a way where I did not have to sacrifice one for the other – but so many parents, particularly women, feel backed into making that tough choice. Women in Animation is focused on the enormous need to provide job flexibility and more support for working parents and caregivers. The number of women who have had to walk away from their jobs because of the high cost and lack of childcare and too few options for hybrid work schedules is startling – even more so due to COVID. We need to do better and we highly encourage partners to join our advocacy.
There is an enormous need to provide job flexibility and more support for working parents and caregivers.
Women in Animation wants to achieve 50/50 parity for women and underrepresented genders in the animated creative workforce by 2025 – and we believe the industry is already committed to that goal. What we‘re focused on now is how to make it easter to do it. We’ve created a searchable database of more than 6,000 women/diverse gender professionals to dispel that myth of ‘I can’t find anyone to hire.’ We are also working on breaking down barriers to build the pipeline, including creating pathways that do not require going to an expensive art school or college. I’m very excited about our ongoing work with the California Board of Education and The BRIC Foundation to build out training and apprenticeship programs to prepare people for a multitude of jobs and enrich our talent pool.
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