Member Profile: Isobel Stenhouse

One of our key goals at AWUK is to showcase the great work of our members.  This is the first in a regular series where we’ll get to know our members a bit better as well as take a look at some of their work.  

What's your name and where do you work?

Isobel Stenhouse, I'm a Production Supervisor in the Feature Animation department at Double Negative. 

What inspired you to get into animation?

I watched an endless number of cartoons in the 80's, such as Superted and Thundercats, but it was a trip to Disneyworld that really captured my imagination. I wanted to be an 'imagineer', or theme park designer. I thought animation may be a route to that, but as soon as I started my degree course, I was more than happy to stick to film. Drawing has been my lifelong passion, and although I don't feel I've ever quite reached the standard I've wanted to artistically, I'm still so grateful for where I am today.


We're Going on a Bear Hunt

Isobel Line Produced 'We're Going on a Bear Hunt' at Lupus Films.  Images © Bear Hunt Films Limited MMXVI

How did you make it a reality?

After taking what seemed like a sensible route into design engineering, I realised that this wasn't my world and I wasn't being me. Incredibly, my company paid for evening classes, so on taking A Level Art, I decided...I am doing this! I got a deferred entry onto the BA Animation course at the Arts University Bournemouth, saved for a year and a half, and the rest is history!

What would you say is the biggest challenge facing women the industry?

Knowing what to do if faced with working conditions that take over your life, which can too often be the case. I know many women who have had varied careers because they recognise that life has many facets, and if they can't spend time with their family, or write in the evenings, or play a sport, or whatever it is that they enjoy doing or must do outside of their day job, it leaves them facing tough decisions.

We're Going on a Bear Hunt

© Bear Hunt Films Limited MMXVI

Do you think that being a woman has impacted your career, or have you ever felt professionally excluded because of gender?

I have seen a boys' club or two in action, but they haven't impacted my career, and I've usually progressed when I've wanted to. I have been in situations where I felt my opinion was perceived as less valuable or I've been seen as too bold, but that's been more exasperating than career-stopping! On the plus-side, I feel that I have a certain nurturing aspect to my character that may have led to some of my leadership roles. Is that because I'm a woman? I have no idea!

Did you have mentors or support networks that helped push you forward in your career?  Feel free to give a shout out.

Mentors, no. However, I cannot think of a more supportive industry than animation when it comes to colleagues. From Emma Burch and Simon Tofield helping me move into new roles such as Art Director on Simon's Cat, to Peter Dodd, Roger Mainwood and the Lupus Films' ladies for bringing me onto Ethel and Ernest, and to Denise Dean for being a constant animation ally, I feel very fortunate. The Ethel and Ernest trainees gave me a huge injection of enthusiasm. And more friends and colleagues helped me along the way. How much space do I have? People are so important, and I love paying it forward too!

Ethel and Ernest

Isobel was Animation Supervisor on Ethel and Ernest at Lupus Film.  Images © Ethel & Ernest Production Limited, Melusine Productions S.A., The British Film Institute and Ffilm Cymru Wales CBC 2016

How do you plan to help advance the idea of more women in the industry?

I don't think I have to. Animation courses are packed with women. What we need to work on is how to retain women in the industry, and how to ensure they are supported in fulfilling their potential. Knocking the culture of long working hours on the head, more flexibility, and mentoring schemes would be good starting points. I've recently been championing better working conditions and am mentoring a student at Saint Martin’s, although I see no reason for this to be gender specific. I think everyone entering the industry deserves support.

What advice would you give to women wanting to enter the industry?

Know that you have the power to incite change and influence others. Every small improvement matters and can lead to the next. So if you want to follow your passion, but have barriers in your way, look for the people that will help you knock them down and trample them into the ground!

Ethel and Ernest

© Ethel & Ernest Production Limited, Melusine Productions S.A., The British Film Institute and Ffilm Cymru Wales CBC 2016

You took part in AWUK’s Achieve Programme.  How do you feel it benefited you?

The course allowed me to reflect on aspects of my work that I hadn't really considered, such as value to the company and assertiveness. It actually gave me the confidence to ask for a small raise, and although that didn't go down very well, I got it! The opportunity to talk about difficult work situations with like-minded women was quite therapeutic and helped me view situations from a different perspective. Most importantly, it gave me the platform to talk about the subject of mental health, and how our industry can impact it. This is now something that I hope to discuss more widely.

If you were hosting a dinner party who would you invite and why?

A chef! I'm a terrible cook! And the crew of the Illusionist, for old times' sake. It was a production full of all sorts of craziness, but the bond we had as a team was second to none.

If you’re interested in being profiled, please email

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Animated Women UK announce Disney’s Beth Parker as Animation Chair

AWUK has announced Beth Parker, who manages the production of current series and development across Disneys EMEA channels, as their new Animation Chair.

Beth takes over from Founder and current Animation Chair Lindsay Watson, who remains on the AWUK Board, but who is taking a step back to pursue other projects after nearly five intense years getting the organisation off the ground. Beth joins VFX Chair Louise Hussey - Executive VFX Producer at Double Negative - in setting the agenda going forwards.

AWUK is a non-profit that exists to positively support, represent, celebrate and encourage women in the animation and VFX industries in the UK.

Founded in 2013, they aim to change the gender landscape by building a vibrant network that facilitates mentoring, knowledge exchange and education resulting in women in animation and VFX fulfilling their potential.

Beth Parker, who will actively take up her post in September, said: Having spent over 20 years as a woman working in the creative industries, Im very aware of the inequalities that exist. We have made positive inroads and I have seen the benefit of shared experience both as a mentor and a participant. Im thrilled to be joining Animated Women UK, because of the opportunity to expand on the positive foundations established by Lindsay and the team. We still have a long way to go.

Founder, Lindsay Watson, who remains on the board, said: Beth has the skills to continue the great work that weve started. She has already proved a great supporter of our agenda and will no doubt prove invaluable as we continue to grow AWUK and have a positive impact on our industry.

VFX Chair Louise Hussey adds: “Were really excited to have Beth join our team. Her credentials speak for themselves and Im eager to see what we can accomplish together.

Beth started her television career in 1997 in Germany at a company that analysed applications to the Distribution Fund for the European Union’s MEDIA II Programme.

Returning to London in 2001, Beth worked with executive producer Marion Edwards at Telemagination, taking over as managing director in 2004. Beth then moved to TV Loonland as head of production, simultaneously studying for a Masters degree in Social Policy and Criminology. She went on to work for a major youth charity for three years before taking on consultancy work for both charities and animation companies including Hibbert Ralph Animation and Red Kite Animation.

In 2014 Beth joined Disney to head up production for the Disney Channel network in Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA). She manages animation productions for Disney Junior, Disney Channel and Disney XD, from pre-school to tween’.

For more information on Animated Women UK and membership visit

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Submit Your Work to AWUK

Show off your best work.  Submit now for inclusion in AWUK Showcases.
One of our key goals at AWUK is to showcase the great work of our members.  We’re calling for submissions for upcoming showcases.  Please fill in our form and share your work so that we can share it with the wider world.  We’re really excited to see it.
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Promoting Women in Visual Arts at FMX

There’s something special about FMX.  Everyone who goes there loves it and it’s not just because of beer and currywurst.

This year 307 speakers and 4000 attendees (67.5% professionals and 32.5% students) travelled to FMX in Stuttgart from 61 countries to share their work and discuss new technologies and issues affecting the industry. If you’ve never been, take a look at this year’s impressive programme and mark your diary for 2018!

FMX attendees are currently disproportionately male, however they hosted their third consecutive Women in Visual Arts Panel on Friday 5th May and Animated Women UK were part of it.

AWUK Founder and Animation Chair Lindsay Watson joined Gerfried Stocker (Artistic Director, Ars Electronica), Clemence Bragard, (Event & Project Manager, Les Femmes s’Animent) on a panel chaired by Dr. Diana Arellano (Research & Development, Animations Institute) to discuss the disproportionate representation of women in the industry and some of the challenges associated with redressing the balance. 


All the panelists shared insight around the issues facing women and the policies they’ve been trying out locally. Ars Electroncia reported a positive impact on the number of applications they receive from women thanks to a positive discrimination policy for specific programmes. In order to support women on their return from having families, they have also implemented non-gender specific family leave and are seeing an increased number of men take time off to care for their children as a result.

Lindsay shared some highlights from the ground breaking research Animated Women UK completed two years ago that clearly shows the underrepresentation of women in these industries as well as a significant gender pay gap. Women only make up 30% of the VFX and Animation industry today, but there are some encouraging signs.  The industry as a whole is growing, aided by the animation tax credit, and the number of women in the industry has almost doubled between 2012 and 2015 to 5,325.

You can view Lindsay’s full presentation here.

Many issues surfaced during the Q&A including:

  • What do you do if you are being sexually harassed in the workplace if you think it might cost you your job?
  • What do you say to someone outside of the workplace (i.e. at a conference) if they are speaking to you in a sexist way?

The panel recognised that many women, particularly those in the public eye, face hostility of a sexual nature online and in social media comments; Mary Beard provides some excellent examples of how to comment back in her lecture “The Public Voice of Women”.

Fortunately Animated Women UK has never been the target of sexist remarks through our social networks. If it were we would take it seriously and report it as a cyber crime to the British authorities.

The group also discussed that while there may not be a ‘script’ to deal with sexism it was about finding an approach that worked for you. What do you think? If you have any ideas post below for further discussion.   

After the talk, a number of people stayed to chat; Jean-Michel Blottiere, Executive Director of FMX thanked us all for appearing on the panel and agreed to look into the female to male ratio in terms of festival attendance next year.  

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AWUK go to Aardman

Back on the 20th January 2017, we were thrilled to have our launch for Animated Women UK South-West at the renowned Aardman Animations in Bristol!

The aim was to celebrate the magnificent work done by women and companies in this region and where better to host it than where much of the magic of UK animation started!? Aardman is the home of a unique brand of independent film; best known for “Wallace and Gromit”, “Chicken Run”, “Pirates!” and their iconic trademark character and show “Morph”. We were very lucky to meet Morph on the day and he’s just as cheeky as ever!

It was fantastic to be joined by such a vibrant industry panel that included a few key representatives from the South-West:

Charlotte Wadsworth, Producer, Arthurcox

Kieran Argo, Programmer and Project Manager

Sally Arthur, Freelance Director and Industry Liaison UWE

Vicky Brophy, Owner, Wonky Films

Erica Darby, Owner and Producer, Spider Eye

Chaired by Animation Consultant and Producer Helen Brunsdon the goal was a discussion of the upsides and downsides of working in the South West for individuals and companies,  the current climate and how to provide encouragement to people considering working in animation. Helen also presented an exciting update about Animation UK - now part of the newly formed UK Screen Alliance providing a collective voice for the Animation & Visualisation sector. Read more here!

Our first-ever Achieve Programme summary

The day’s presentations included a summary of the success of our first ever Achieve Programme by Helen North (Programme Producer and founding board member of AWUK). Sponsored by Creative Skillset, Disney, Turner, The Mill and Escape Studios, it was really inspiring to hear the stories of those who participated and the positive feedback we received. It goes to show there is a real need for continued mentorship and support to senior, mid-level and junior women in the animation and vfx industries!

Presentation on our October 2016 BFX symposium ‘Being yourself – Surveying the experiences of women developing their career in the animation and vfx industries’

To round-up the day, Amy Backwell (Social Media Lead and event co-producer) presented some interesting outcomes from this panel event and ideas on how to fuse Industry with Academia and training workshops. This event was based on some of the original AWUK research conducted by Helen North and Shiona Llewellyn. 8 key threads were identified here and were generalised into two categories: ‘how are women represented on the screen?’ and ‘how are women represented behind the screen?’

One of the main talking points was that currently, there is a lack of strong female role models. The majority of the audience felt that we need to go into primary schools and not just secondary schools and universities to make a positive impact early and make young people aware of the vast creative opportunities and careers that are available to them. A Lighting TD recounted how she had visited a school where nobody knew what that was, let alone that it was something that women could do. Talks like this help challenge stereotypes and open the eyes of future generations.

We also questioned our  industry guests about how they think we should move the South West activity forward. Here are just a few of their responses!

Q: What resources do you think are needed in Bristol & South West for women working in the animation and VFX community?

A: Retraining post children/ career break”, “training around confidence building”,Regular meeting venue for courses & seminars”, “masterclasses, short daily courses focusing on animation”, “ Mentors for mid-level” and “networking with people with funding to create more jobs for women!”

Q: Any other suggestions?

A: It's great to know there's so much research going on - also to hear thoughts of experienced and entry-level women”, “flexible working” and “ research & case studies on how women have balanced work & motherhood”.

To wind down from the day, Bertha’s Pizza in Bristol hosted Animated Women UK’s networking drinks.  It’s a wonderful venue and new family business just down from Gas Ferry Road (it has our thumbs up!)

Animated Women UK would like to thank all of the volunteers and participants who made this such a great event. We really appreciate the feedback provided to help us push this research further. We will be producing a full article on the Bristol and Bournemouth events and the research findings, which will be published on our blog page.

We look forward to catching up with everyone in the near future to see what you took away and implemented in your workplaces and local areas. Our aim is to listen to the ideas of the women in industry and academia, to increase resources, create events, discussion groups and training. We need volunteers, producers, board members and mentors to facilitate the growth and development of Animated Women UK on a national level!

We have people who would like to get together in Bristol.  If you would like to join them, please let us know by emailing!

A big thank you to the team at Aardman Animations and to Bertha’s pizza for supporting us!

Blog by Amy Backwell

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