Designed to empower, educate and support Women in Animation members by increasing their access to information via relationships with knowledgeable mentors, WIA’s Mentorship Program was launched in 2014 to bolster its mission of “50/50 by 2025,” and has exploded from 80 Mentees in 2018 to more than 1,500 through the first quarter of 2021.
WIA Mentors volunteering their time are working professionals from a broad range of disciplines including writing, directing, producing, editing, storyboarding, and more. Aimed at fostering the personal and professional growth of participants, Mentors working at all levels of their careers share knowledge, skills, information and perspective.
The program’s impact has been enormous, with 86% of Mentees in the most recent survey stating that they were able to accomplish their goals. Mentors have benefitted from the program as well, with many reporting that the process helped them refine their own thinking and that their participation gave them a richer and more nuanced understanding of the industry as a whole.
The success of WIA’s Mentorship Program can also be measured by the number of women working in the industry today. According to The Animation Guild, more than 60% of animation and art school students are women, yet as recently as 2015 only 20% of the creative jobs in animation were held by women. Since then, the number of women joining the ranks has been steadily climbing, and in the last year the industry has seen the largest increase ever in the percentage of women working in animation (4%), bringing the overall percentage to 30.4%.
WIA has continued to build on the success of its Mentorship Program with the expansion of the Mentor Circles, WIA’s group mentoring format. This cohort of professional peers includes 6-10 people and one industry mentor, and the groups hold virtual meetings to develop at least one specific goal for the duration of each three-month cycle. WIA’s spring program, which was focused on women of color and included partnerships with LatinX in Animation, Rise Up Animation and Black N’ Animated, involved 45 Mentors, 50% of whom identify as Black, Indigenous or people of color.
With topics ranging from recruitment and pitching to leadership & management and reading the fine print in contracts, the spring 2021 cycle of the Mentor Circles saw unprecedented global reach on launch day, generating between 12,000-15,000 unique visitors over 72 hours from 55 countries around the world.
The next round of Mentor Circles will run from September to the beginning of December, and WIA is now actively recruiting Mentors through the beginning of July. Learn more about how you can become a Mentor by emailing us at [email protected]