I don't know, but I can tell you where they're NOT. They are not in any Pixar or Dreamworks animated films. Well... not as LEAD characters anyways. I don't know why I never noticed this before, but someone did.
I decided I wanted to break it down because I think it has more of an impact when you actually see it as a list, so off we go!
NOTE: This is not to say that these movies don't have some kick-ass female characters (Dori in Finding Nemo, Princess Fiona in Shrek, Eve in WALL-E etc...) BUT the point is that they are usually secondary characters whose female real-life voices get 3rd or 4th billing in the credits.
Toy Story - Woody & Buzz Lightyear
A Bug's Life - Flik
Toy Story 2 - Woody & Buzz Lightyear
Monster's Inc. - Sully & Mike Wazowski
Finding Nemo - Nemo & Nemo's dad
The Incredibles - "Mr. Incredible" (and yes Holly Hunter got second billing for "Elastigirl"... but I still wouldn't call her a LEAD character, it mostly revolved around the dad... but still a great movie!)
Cars - Lightning McQueen (voiced by Owen Wilson)
Ratatouille - Remy the Rat
WALL-E - WALL-E, duh! :)
Up - Carl Fredricksen
Antz - "Z" (boy)
Shrek - Shrek
Shrek 2 - Shrek
Shark Tale - Oscar
Madagascar - Alex (lion) and Marty (zebra)
Over the Hedge - RJ
Flushed Away - Roddy and Rita (voiced by Kate Winslet, 2nd billing) I haven't seen this one... according to Wikipedia she's pretty central to the plot but Roddy is clearly the main character)
Shrek the 3rd - Shrek
Bee Movie - Barry B. Benson
Kung Fu Panda - Po (voiced by Jack Black)
Madagascar 2 - Alex (lion) and Marty (zebra)
Monsters vs. Aliens - Susan (voiced by Reese Witherspoon), aka Ginormica...OMG I found one, last one on this list... SWEET!
Ok, so I did some research on the last one because I haven't seen the movie and I found out that Ginormica is indeed a female protagonist. Or, as Slate puts it:
Monsters vs. Aliens (DreamWorks Animation) is a film for children with a female lead. She is not the love interest, or the helpmate, or the mom. Nor is she a princess, or princesslike. She does not marry a prince or a prince-manqué. She does not marry at all. She tries to get married, but she is struck by a meteor on her wedding day (typical!), which transforms her into an unmarriageable, world-saving, 49-foot-11-inch superfreak and—thank you, O bountiful movie gods—a Strong Female Protagonist.
However, they are quick to point out...She also happens to be ultra-skinny with big boobs and a pneumatic butt, and sometimes wears a catsuit. Well, you have to start somewhere, I guess.
So c'mon Pixar and Dreamworks! More female protagonists, please! Preferably no princesses. It's been done once or twice, or 87 other times. We know you are more creative that that!!
Sign the petition And, if the studios DO deliver an animated film with a female lead, go see it!! And yes, I will practice what I preach and rent Monsters vs. Aliens. :)