WASHINGTON, D.C. Jan. 29, 2017— Women represent only 20 percent of the non-acting categories in the 89th annual Academy Award nominations, according to a Women’s Media Center analysis. Despite an overhaul of membership last year, where hundreds of new members were invited, including many women and people of color, female Oscar nominees dipped two percentage points from last year’s nominations.
The full report is available here.
Overall, women were woefully underrepresented in the major categories, with no female directors nominated and only one writer. However, nine women were nominated as producers in Best Picture, the largest nominations count of any category. Ava DuVernay—who became the first woman of color to have a film she directed nominated for Best Picture, 2014’s “Selma”—is again represented in the Documentary Feature category for “13th,” a documentary about the history of African Americans and mass incarceration.
Julie Burton, President of the Women’s Media Center, said, “We have a saying, ‘If you can see it, you can be it,’ but in the crucial behind-the-scenes non-acting roles, our ‘Women’s Media Center Investigation’ shows that what you see is 80 percent of all nominees are men. Four out of five nominees are men—meaning male voices and perspectives are largely responsible for what we see on screen.”
Burton pointed out that the overall nomination numbers track to the overall employment numbers for 2016 recently documented by the Center for the Study of Women in Television & Film’s “The Celluloid Ceiling” report found that women represented only 17 percent of all directors, writers, producers, executive producers, editors and cinematographers working on the top 250 domestic grossing films.
“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,” Burton said. “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.”
Last year, the Oscar nominations shut out actors of color in all four of its acting categories for the second year in a row, leading to a global protest and prompting some prominent names to boycott the Oscars. That helped motivate the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to make big changes to its membership, inviting a record 683 new members last summer, some of them women and people of color, with the hope of accelerating change that seems to be happening too slowly.
This year, there were more people of color nominated than in any other year in Oscar history, including a record-breaking three African American nominees for Actress in a Supporting Role. Unfortunately, the change does not seem to have impacted the non-acting categories to the same degree. In many cases, there was a downward shift in the number of women nominated per category.
There are still categories that exclude women 100 percent of the time, including cinematography, and many that do not represent women in their ranks overall, like the animation categories. But there is still some good news for women in producing, sound mixing, sound editing and costumes.
Despite the overall numbers, there were some breakthrough nominees this year, including Mica Levy who composed the score to “Jackie” and became the first woman nominated for original score since 2000. Joi McMillan, co-editor for “Moonlight,” also became the first African American woman ever nominated in editing.
Dede Gardner is on her fourth consecutive nomination for producing. She has been nominated five times since 2012. Three of the films she has produced deal with the African American experience: “12 Years a Slave,” “Selma” and this year’s nominee, “Moonlight.”
From 2005 to 2016, women account for just 19 percent of all non-acting Oscar nominations. The 2017 Oscars—which will broadcast on Sunday, Feb. 26.—honors the best films of 2016.
“The documentary categories tend to be an arena where women flourish and we’re very pleased to see the brilliant Ava DuVernay nominated for her excellent documentary feature, ‘13th,’ ” said Pat Mitchell, WMC co-chair and chair of the Sundance Institute. “This documentary is powerful, compelling and a must-see.”
This report was reported and written by Sasha Stone with research assistance from Tiffany Nguyen. The Oscar analysis was drawn using information from Oscars.org.
The Women’s Media Center, co-founded by Jane 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 and podcast “Women’s Media Center Live with Robin Morgan” and through WMC Features, WMC FBomb, WMC Speech Project, and WMC Women Under Siege.