Women Got Only 30% Of Non-Acting Oscar Nominations This Year, An Uptick But “A Long Way” From Parity, Report Finds

David Robb

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A new report by the Women’s Media Center found that only 30% of all non-acting Oscar nominations went to women this year – up from 25% the year before. Of the 186 total nominees in those categories, 56 are women, 130 are men.

“The number of nominations for women increased in the 92nd Academy Awards, but not by much,” according to a Women’s Media Center analysis of the Oscars’ 19 non-acting categories, ahead of Sunday’s 92nd Academy Awards. “The overall percentage of female nominees in those categories rose by just 5 percentage points, from 25 percent last year to 30 percent this year, compared to 70 percent for male nominees.”

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Last year’s report found that 51 of the 207 non-acting nominees were women, and that 156 were men – a larger pool of nominees in which fewer women were nominated than this year. This year’s report found “little progress for women in non-acting Oscar nominations,” and that 30% remains “a long way from gender parity.”

“While women wrote and directed more profitable and critically acclaimed films than ever before in 2019, and more women had other significant roles behind the camera, that shift was not reflected in the Oscar nominations,” the organization said in a press release Thursday. “For the second straight year, there were no women nominated in the Best Director category, although the number of female directors is on the rise.”

According to the Women’s Media Center, “The number of nominations of women went up in the categories of Best Picture (producing), Film Editing, Animated Feature, Makeup and Hairstyling, Original Score, and Documentary Short. They stayed the same or dropped in the other 13 categories, including Best Director, Adapted Screenplay, Original Screenplay and Cinematography. Of the nine films nominated for Best Picture, eight had at least one female producer. That’s up from last year, when only four out of eight did. Of the total of 23 producers nominated in 2020, nine are women, or 39 percent, compared to 20 percent last year.”

“The Academy has been taking small steps toward gender parity, but more needs to be done if it is serious about real change,” WMC co-founder Jane Fonda said.

“Unless the voting members of the Academy include a critical mass of women and people of color in all non-acting categories, it is hard to imagine equality of representation in Academy Award nominations,” said Julie Burton, president and CEO of the Women’s Media Center. “Becoming a voting member of the Academy’s director branch includes rules that make it difficult for many women directors to qualify. Today’s Academy voting membership shut women out of contention for Best Director this year. The absence of women nominees is particularly glaring because we know that there was no shortage of women eligible for this prestigious honor. The lack of women nominated for Best Director continues a long tradition of bias in the Academy – over the 92 years of the Academy Awards, only five women directors have ever been nominated for an Oscar – meaning, in the history of the Academy Awards, 99 percent of all Best Director nominees have been men and only 1 percent have been women. The Women’s Media Center urges all branches of the Academy Awards to kick up their representative numbers to reflect the real world and not just an exclusive boys’ club.”

“Women continue to produce and direct films that are box office successes, yet the Academy repeatedly fails to adequately recognize their talents and achievements,” said Pat Mitchell, WMC co-chair. “The Sundance Film Festival created a new benchmark for feature films: 44 percent of all films are directed by women directors and 37 percent by filmmakers of color. The Academy is out of step with independent work as well as commercial successes.”

Founded in 2005 by Fonda, Robin Morgan and Gloria Steinem, the WMC says it’s “an inclusive and feminist organization that works to ensure women’s realities are covered and women’s voices are heard.”

The group originally claimed in its report today that the uptick in overall noms for women this year reflected a 5% increase. But from last year’s 25 percent the change represents a 20 percent overall increase (25% ÷ 5% = 20%). Conflating percentage point increases with percentage increases is a common mistake, and makes the overall percentage increase smaller than it really is.

“You’re absolutely right, it should have been 5 percentage points, not 5 percent,” Cristal Williams Chancellor, the organization’s director of communications, told Deadline when asked about the figures. “We’re correcting it now on our site. It was an editing mistake. It was correct in an earlier version, but somehow got changed. Thank you for catching it and bringing it to our attention.” Even so, she said, “It’s still not much of a change, and it’s still a long way from parity.”

The report has since been corrected on the group’s website.

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