Little progress for women in Oscar nominations for non-acting awards

WASHINGTON, DC, Feb. 26, 2018 — A new study finds the number of women Oscar nominees grew only slightly in Academy Awards given for non-acting categories this year — despite a concerted push by women and their allies to achieve greater representation for females in all parts of the film industry. Men represent 77 percent of the nominees for behind-the-scenes roles, according to a report by the Women’s Media Center.

The full report is available here.

The percentage of women barely inched up to 23 percent, from 20 percent last year, in the 19 major non-acting categories that feature writing, editing, producing, and directing roles.

The good news is that some of the high-profile categories did see notable women land nominations, from Rachel Morrison, who made history as the first female cinematographer to receive a nomination in 90 years of Oscars, to Greta Gerwig, the writer and director of Lady Bird who became only the fifth woman nominated for Best Director.

“Rachel Morrison shattered the glass ceiling for women nominees in cinematography, and we applaud her historic achievement. We are also proud of the efforts of all women who continue to break barriers in the film industry, despite systemic cultural and institutional bias,” said Julie Burton, president of the Women’s Media Center.

“Over the past year, many brave women have stepped forward to tell stories of pervasive sexual harassment and worse in the film industry — forcing the nation to realize how little power women have had in Hollywood and sparking new demands for change,” said Burton. “The absence of women in critical behind-the-scenes roles — and the fact that men represent 77 percent of all nominees — means that women in the industry are missing opportunities for recognition and power. The larger society is deprived of women’s voices, perspectives, and creativity. At a time when women are demanding more power and visibility, these low numbers should be a wake-up call for Hollywood executives. The message is: ‘Time’s up for inequality.’ ”

Because women gained in some categories but lost in others, the overall percentage of women nominees budged only slightly. Women were represented in every category except score, sound editing, and visual effects. Overall, men substantially outnumbered women in every category, with costume design being yet again the only category where women were equally represented.

It took a village of activists, from film critics to industry voters, to make those nominations happen. The critically acclaimed Mudbound, written and directed by Dee Rees, did earn multiple nominations in addition to Rachel Morrison’s cinematography nomination. Rees became the first black woman nominated for Writing (Adapted Screenplay), and Mary J. Blige became the first person to have a Best Song and an acting nomination in the same year.

However, there were many films directed by women that were shut out, including the groundbreaking Wonder Woman, directed by Patty Jenkins, which has earned $412 million.

For the first time, the awards shows have been focused on gender parity, with Golden Globes attendees wearing black to represent victims of harassment and to signal that “Time’s Up.”

“These are times that call for sweeping and sustainable changes — as evidenced by the findings in this report,” said Pat Mitchell, WMC co-chair and chair of the Sundance Institute. “The Women’s Media Center will continue to shine a light on the status of women in Hollywood — and on all media platforms. Ultimately, changes must come from those who hold the power, and we know that few, if any, power holders throughout history have given up power without a struggle.  But we are in this for the long haul. Change is coming. Time’s up.”

The 90th Academy Award nominations were unveiled on January 23 by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Winners will be announced during the telecast on Sunday, March 4, on ABC.

This report was reported and written by Sasha Stone with research assistance from Tiffany Nguyen. The Oscar analysis was drawn using information from

The Women’s Media Center, co-founded by Jane Fonda, Robin Morgan, and Gloria Steinem, works to make women visible and powerful in the media. We do so by promoting women as decision-makers and as subjects in media; training women to be media-ready and media-savvy; researching and exposing sexism, racism, and fakery in media; and creating original online and on air journalism.