Three of the world’s best comic book artists pulled out of the running for a lifetime achievement award at the Angoulême comics festival in France because there was an all-male shortlist of nominees. This triggered another seven artists to pull out, forcing the organizers to add women to the list.
The exclusion of women is not an unusual occurrence and all male panels or “manels” on television, at conferences and major events is common. A powerful video by Emma Watson showed how women are under-represented in many fields and high level meetings. By removing men from photographs of UN Assemblies, TV Shows, Parliament Debates, she showed the striking the difference in gender representation.
A frequently given excuse for the exclusion of women—including at the French comics festival—is that there are few women experts. This is untrue. In fact, the Women in Comics Collective Against Sexism called for a boycott of the comics prize over the “total negation” of the growing number of women in comic-book art. “It all comes back to the disastrous glass ceiling; we’re tolerated, but never allowed top billing,” they wrote.