There’s now even more data confirming the film industry’s gender inequality. Statisticians at St. Lawrence University have analyzed all 92 Best Picture nominees dating back to 2006 to get a sense Oscar diversity, finding that male leads were onscreen an average of 43 percent of the time compared to just 22 percent for their female counterparts.
The study was led by Michael Schuckers and Bailey O’Keeffe, with the latter pointing out that “the Academy often dismisses films that feature strong female leads in favor of the conventional, Hollywood-approved white male characters,” according to a press release on the team’s findings. Several exceptions have come in the last two years, namely “Hidden Figures,” “Brooklyn,” and “Room.”
While movies directed by men were in line with the average ratio, coming out to 44 percent of screen time for men and 21 percent for women, those helmed by women were more equal: 31 percent and 30 percent, respectively.
“Perhaps then the key to increasing female representation on screen — and thus character depth — is to hire more female directors who are more likely to distribute screen time evenly between male and female leads since most male directors seem to only be reinforcing this significant gender gap,” says O’Keeffe.
“We recognize that our metrics do not completely characterize all aspects of a film,” adds Schuckers, “yet the data that we have collected can certainly inform and enlighten about trends and patterns in films, filmmaking, and award selection.”