It’s become an all-too-familiar refrain: despite an uptick in discussions regarding the need for diversity in Hollywood, the hard numbers are telling a very different story. The Women’s Media Center, cofounded by Jane Fonda, Robin Morgan, and Gloria Steinem, has today released a new report that finds that this year’s Oscar nominations in non-acting categories are made up of only 20% women, a 2% dip from the 2016 nominations.
As the study notes, for the seventh year in a row, female directors were shut out of the best director category (only one woman has ever won — Kathryn Bigelow for “The Hurt Locker” — and only four women total have ever been nominated). Ava DuVernay did make off with a nod, however, over in the documentary category with her “13th.” “Hidden Figures” screenwriter Allison Schroeder earned the sole female screenwriter nod. Over in the cinematography category, the long-standing tradition of never nominating a woman remained.
“We have a saying: ‘If you can see it, you can be it,’ but in the crucial behind-the-scenes non-acting roles, our investigation shows that what you see is 80 percent of all nominees are men,” says Julie Burton, president of the Women’s Media Center. “Four out of five nominees are men — meaning male voices and perspectives are largely responsible for what we see on screen.”
Burton added, “Clearly, women cannot get through the door and if they cannot get through the door, they cannot be recognized — and rewarded — for their excellence and impact. In the meantime, and with appreciation to Michelle Obama, we ask the studio and agency executives who are okay with making a bunch of deals that exclude women to ‘Be Better.’ The perspectives, experience and voices of more than half the population deserve an equal seat at the table.”
There was, however, some positivity to be found: nine female producers were nominated for best picture, including a number of returning names. “Jackie” composer Mica Levi was the first woman nominated in the category since 2000, while “Moonlight” co-editor Joi McMillon is the first African-American woman ever nominated in the best editing category.
As Entertainment Weekly reminds us, “despite efforts by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences to further diversity its membership by adding a slew of women and minorities to their rolls, little has changed for women trying to break into the business. And even with all the talk of 2016 being a banner year for actresses, Emma Stone is the only lead actress whose film is also nominated for Best Picture with ‘La La Land,’ ‘Jackie,’ ‘Elle,’ ‘Florence Foster Jenkins,’ and ‘Loving’ were all shut out of that race.”
Earlier this year, The Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film at San Diego State University released its “Celluloid Ceiling” study which revealed its own disheartening numbers, including the news that women make up just 7% of directors working on the top 250 films (the study pulls its information from the highest grossing domestic features from each year), which is down a 2% the previous year. Even more jarring, that number is also 2% below the figure from back in 1998.