Disney to Miss Ford: “Women do not do any of the creative work…”

Today anyone will tell you that women are among the most vibrantly creative forces on the planet. Apparently that was not common knowledge in 1938.

Below is a 70 year old letter (click on the image to view it at full size) from Walt Disney Productions to Miss Mary Ford, who had applied to be an animator at the studio. She was summarily rejected for animation training because — ready? — she was a woman.

Oh man. And you think your rejection letters are unfair.

Further, even though women could be hired as Inkers and Painters, Miss Ford was strongly discouraged from applying for either of those positions “as there are really very few openings in comparison with the number of girls who apply.”

The letter was signed by one Mary Cleave, who only neglected to add “Wicked Witch.” Oh wait. I suppose the picture by her name clearly indicates her position. Okay, that was cruel. Mary was just doing her job.

This policy wouldn’t have been exclusive to Disney, of course. All studios had the same policy in 1938. Hang onto your rejection letters. In 70 years they may seem just as crazy to your grand children.

Image courtesy Sim Sandwich, used under a Creative Commons license.

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2 Comments

  1. Haha. My mother ran into similar discrimination. She was a portrait painter, one who had, mind you, won a full ride scholarship during the Great Depression to the Chicago Art Institute. “We’ve come a long way, Baby!”

    Great post, Dan.

    Reply
  2. Thanks DLKeur. It seems that by 1938 men would have recognized that women were really arty and capable creatures. I mean, they had centuries…!

    Reply

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