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Disney's 1938 rejection letter refusing woman a job due to gender takes the internet by storm

The rejection letter denies a woman a job consisting of 'creative work' just because she is a woman.

Disney's 1938 rejection letter refusing woman a job due to gender takes the internet by storm
Cover Image Source: Reddit | u/deepakhn

In today’s time, women along with men hold high positions even when it comes to creative work. It could be in animation, graphic designing or even working behind the cameras. However, that wasn’t the case in 1938. Recently, a job rejection letter by Disney has gone viral on a social media platform. It clearly states that women do not do “any of the creative in connection with preparing the cartoons for the screen.” People were appalled when they saw this job rejection letter.



In 2014, when Meryl Streep took the stage at the National Board of Review Awards to honor Emma Thompson for her role in “Saving Mr. Banks,” she mentioned this rejection letter and called Walt Disney sexist and anti-semite, reported Business Insider. The letter was reportedly given to a woman named Mary Ford from Arkansan. She received this response after she had applied for a position in the “inking and painting” department with Disney.

The letter posted on Reddit by u/Deepakhn is dated June 7, 1938, and reads, “Dear Miss Ford: Your letter of recent date has been received in the Inking and Painting Department for reply. Women do not do any of the creative work in connection with preparing the cartoons for the screen, as that task is performed entirely by young men. For this reason, girls are not considered for the training school. The only work open to women consists of tracing the characters on clear celluloid sheets with India ink, and then, filling in the tracing on the reverse side with paint according to directions. In order to apply for a position as 'Inker' or 'Painter,' it is necessary that one appear at the Studio, bringing samples of pen and ink and watercolor work."

The letter further read: "It would not be advisable to come to Hollywood with the above specifically in view, as there are really very few openings in comparison with the number of girls who apply. Yours very truly, Walt Disney Productions, LTD." It was signed by a person named Mary.

Image Source: Reddit | u/Deepakhn
Image Source: Reddit | u/Deepakhn

The post is captioned, “Job rejection letter sent by Disney to a woman in 1938” and has about 39k upvotes on Reddit. People were in disbelief when they chanced upon this letter. u/DaanDaanne commented, "Dear Mary: There's only room for one Mary at this company. Sincerely, Mary." u/YCbCr_444 wrote, “I love how the reasoning is pure tautology. The second paragraph says, 'Women do not do this work because women do not do this work'." u/notyoumamausername shared, “It's amazing the artificial barriers that used to be put in place to separate 'men's' and 'women's' work.” u/CataorShane said, “This was infuriating to read. I hope whoever that lady was, found success elsewhere.”

Image Source: Reddit | u/sweetmissjaye
Image Source: Reddit | u/sweetmissjaye

Though women weren’t allowed in the creative works in the 1930s in the company, by February 1941, Disney decided to train women artists. In May 1941, Glamour magazine published a two-page article called, “Girls at Work for Disney.” It had pictures of women “holding important posts in story and character development, backgrounds, layouts, and cutting.” Reportedly, many of these women got promoted into in-betweening and assistant animation throughout the 1940s, according to Cartoonbrew.

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