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WMC Releases 10-Year Review of Oscar Nominations & Gender

February 18, 2016


Interactive data - 10 Year Analysis of Gender and Oscar Nominations

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Over the past decade, women account for just 19 percent of all non-acting Oscar nominations, according to a Women’s Media Center analysis.

From 2006 to 2015, women have received 327 nominations in behind-the-scenes roles that include producers, writers, directors, and cinematographers, compared to 1,387 men.

Although the number of non-acting nominations of women for the 88th Annual Academy Awards, to be given at this year’s ceremony on February 28, is greater than for any previous year, it is still staggeringly low: 22 percent.

WMC examined the last 10 years of nominations in 19 categories. Men dominate most top-tier categories —those that represent roles with the greatest decision-making power. The cinematography category has maintained a 100 percent shutout of female nominees not only in the last decade, but also in the 88-year history of the awards by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Women are more strongly represented in the visual design categories, such as costume design and production design; in the short film categories; and in documentary features.

“There is a clear connection between the low numbers of women hired for behind-the-scenes jobs in film and women's low representation among Oscar nominees,” said Julie Burton, President of the Women’s Media Center. “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.”

Amma Asante, Director, Writer, and Recipient of the WMC Award for Directorial Excellence, said: “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.”

The Academy is under intense fire for the scarcity of people of color in acting categories, and of women in other categories. In response to advocacy efforts, including the #OscarsSoWhite and #OscarsWomen campaigns, the Academy announced an unprecedented move to drastically alter its membership rules and vows to double the number of women and minority voters by 2020.

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

Pat Mitchell, Chair of the Sundance Institute and WMC Board Co-Chair, said members of the Academy and Hollywood executives are liable. “The response often given by those held accountable for an irresponsible lack of diversity in this year’s Oscar nominations is that there just aren’t as many women or people of color as directors, producers, or in leading roles to choose from. But a review of the representation of women directors, producers, and leading roles at Sundance Film Festival, year after year, is evidence enough that there’s no lack of talent or stories or films to celebrate; what there is a lack of is the commitment, the vision to see beyond what Hollywood chooses to celebrate as representative and the best.”

Here’s a summary of the WMC analysis — which used data from

• From 2006 to 2015, women constituted 24 percent of the producing (Best Picture) nominees. The percentage of female nominees doubled from 2006 to 2015, though the progress has been unsteady.

• In the past 10 years, only one woman, Kathryn Bigelow, was nominated for the Directing award.

• Between 2006 and 2015, female nominees accounted for 13 percent of the total nominations for Writing (Original Screenplay and Adapted Screenplay). In 2015, women have a total of four nominations in the writing categories, tying the all-time high from 2007.

• Male nominees have dominated the Film Editing category: A mere 17 percent of the total nominations in the past decade were for women.

• The 19 categories examined are: Best Picture; Directing; Writing (Original Screenplay); Writing (Adapted Screenplay); Film Editing; Cinematography; Production Design; Costume Design; Makeup and Hairstyling; Original Score; Original Song; Documentary Feature; Documentary Short Subject; Sound Mixing; Sound Editing; Visual Effects; Animated Feature and Short Film (Live Action).

The full report is available here. The info graphic is available here.

The Women’s Media Center, co-founded by Fonda, Robin Morgan, and Gloria Steinem, works to make women visible and powerful in media. The Women’s Media Center trains women leaders to be in the media; promotes women experts to the media through WMC SheSource; conducts groundbreaking research and reporting on media inclusion and accuracy; features women’s voices and stories on our radio program “Women’s Media Center Live with Robin Morgan” and through WMC Features, WMC FBomb, WMC Speech Project, and WMC Women Under Siege.

For more information, contact Cristal Williams Chancellor, director of communications, at or 202-587-1636.