This year, the Academy has been scrutinized for the lack of people of color in acting categories, and for the lack of women in other categories.  In response to advocacy efforts, including the #OscarsSoWhite and #OscarsWomen campaigns, the Academy announced a plan to completely alter its membership rules to double the number of women and minority voters by 2020.  The lack of diversity in Hollywood can be attributed to a range of systemic problems within the Hollywood studio system, and statistics from the Women’s Media Center add to the evidence that it is time for the industry to make changes.

“The number of women film directors, especially black female directors, is abysmally low in an industry that too often is insular and resistant to change. The makeup of the Academy is only part of the problem. Most often, it’s the lack of opportunity available to women, and it’s especially hard if you are a woman of color. It’s important to change the narrative for little girls so that they can picture themselves in the director’s chair—a position of strength, power, and prestige. Through the director’s lens, I have the ability to shape, create, entertain, educate, and inspire. I would only hope that my work as a screenwriter and director gives hope to young women.”- Amma Asante, Director

The Women’s Media Center (WMC)  studied 19 nomination categories over the past 10 years:  best picture; directing; writing (original screenplay); writing (adapted screenplay); film editing; cinematography; production design; costume design; makeup; hairstyling; original score; original song; documentary feature; documentary short subject; sound mixing; sound editing; visual effects; animated feature; and short film (live action).

This study shows that women have accounted for just 19% of all non-acting Oscar nominations which provides statistical evidence that men dominate all categories that represent the highest levels of decision making power.  In 19 non-acting categories, including producing, writing, directing, costume design, and cinematography, women have received 327 nominations in a decade while men have earned 1,387.

“Women in film, and especially women of color continue to face discriminatory hurdles.  Hollywood is still an all-boys’ club.” – Jane Fonda, WMC Co-founder and Co-chair.

The below information is a summary of all of that data found in the full report:

In the 88-year history of the awards by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the cinematography category has never nominated a woman.  The statistics show that women are represented heavier in the visual design categories, including costume design and production design. They are also more strongly represented in the short film and documentary feature categories.

  • In a decade, only one woman, Kathryn Bigelow (‘The Hurt Locker’), has been nominated for the directing award out of a total of 52 nominees.  She is also the only woman to win an Oscar in that category. 
  • In the Academy’s entire 88-year history, only 12 films directed by women have been nominated for Best Picture.
  • In a decade, women earned 17 percent of the nominations from the past decade for editing.
  • In a decade, female producers accounted for 24 percent of the nominees for the best picture award.  (The percentage of female nominees in this category doubled in these 10 years)
  • In a decade, female nominees accounted for 13 percent of the total nominations for Writing (Original Screenplay and Adapted Screenplay). In 2015, women have a total of 4 nominations in the writing categories, which ties with the all-time high in 2007.

“If they’re not hired in these non-acting categories, they’ll never have a chance to be recognized for their excellence. Research by the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film shows that of the 250 top-grossing films of 2015, women were 9 percent of directors, 11 percent of writers, 20 percent of executive producers, 26 percent of producers, 22 percent of editors, and only 6 percent of cinematographers. If more women were hired as writers, directors, editors, and producers, the talent pool for nominations would be more reflective of the overall population and audience—more than half of which are women.” – Julie Burton, President of the Women’s Media Center

The overhaul of the Academy membership process to increase diversity among its voters is a step in the right direction, but this is an industry wide issue, and conscious changes to the entire system will have to be made across the board.