Study Finds “Little Progress” For Women In Percentage Of Non-Acting Oscar Nominations

A new study from Women’s Media Center has found “little progress” for women nominees in this year’s non-acting Oscar race, with 77% of all behind-the-scenes nominations going to men.

“Despite a concerted push by women and their allies to achieve greater representation for females in all parts of the film industry,” the report states, “the percentage of women barely inched up to 23% from 20% last year in the 19 major non-acting categories that feature writing, editing, producing, and directing roles.” Read the full report here.


Women were totally shut out of three categories this year: Original Score, Sound Editing and Visual Effects. In all of Oscar history, only five women have ever been nominated for original score, and only one in the past 10 years – Mica Levi for Jackie.

“Once again this year, there are no female nominees for Visual Effects,” the report states. “Female VFX supervisors worked on only 5% of the 250 top-grossing films in 2014, and the numbers do not appear to be improving.” No women were nominated this year for Sound Editing, and in the past ten years, only eight of the 99 nominees in the category were females – including three last year.

The report, however, did note an Oscar nomination breakthrough for women – and a woman – this year when Mudbound’s Rachael Morrison made history by becoming the first female cinematographer to receive a nomination in 90 years of the Oscars.

“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, which was founded in 2005 by Jane Fonda, Gloria Steinem and author Robin Morgan.

And Lady Bird writer-director Greta Gerwig became only the fifth woman ever nominated for Best Director, and the first since Kathryn Bigelow, who was nominated and won in 2009 for The Hurt Locker. Four films directed by women have been nominated for Best Picture since 2009, but none of the women received director nominations. And if Gerwig wins, she’ll become the first woman ever to win a Best Director award for a film she also wrote.

In the Best Picture race, eight women producers were nominated – down from last year’s 10-year high of nine women nominated. This year, women represent 27% of the Best Picture nominees, compared to 30% last year. “This is especially disappointing, considering five of the nine films nominated for Best Picture star or costar a female lead, and four of them have Best Actress nominations,” the report states. “This represents an unusually strong year for female-driven films. The last time there were four Best Picture contenders featuring Best Actress nominees was 2012. There are 22 men and eight women producers nominated this year, compared to 21 men and nine women last year.”

In the writing categories, all four of the female nominees are first-time nominees. This year three of the seven nominees for Best Original Screenplay are women – up from zero last year. The last time there were three female nominees in the category was in 2007. In the Adapted Screenplay category, only one of the nine nominees is a woman.

Women made “the most impressive gains” in the Animated Feature category, the report found – up from just 17% last year to 46% this year. “This is due primarily to two films in the category having been directed by women. It is extremely rare for there to be any female directors at all in this category, and to have two in the same year is by far a 10-year high. With three female producing nominees, that brings the total to five, up from two last year. Only two women have ever won in the category since its inception in 2001.”

The percentage of women nominated for Production Design increased from 30% to 33%, and the songwriting category showed major improvement for women, up from zero last year to four this year. But only one of nominees for Best Editing is a woman – the same as last year; and only one of the nominees for Best Sound Mixing is a woman – also the same as last year.

Women's Media Center

The report found that there was “no significant change” for women producers or directors in the Documentary Feature category. Four women were nominated in the category for the second year in a row, with three producers and one director, while nine men were nominated. In the Documentary Short category, women dropped from 50% of the nominees last year to 38% this year.

The report found that women “continue to be underrepresented” in the Live Action Short category, with just 25% of the nominees this year being female — one director and one producer. But that was up from 12% last year.

Women gained slightly, however, in the Animated Short category, rising from 12% of the nominees last year to 20% this year. Two women were nominated alongside eight men, compared to one woman last year and seven men.

Female nominees in Makeup and Hairstyling increased to 33% this year compared to 14% a year ago. But women dropped to 50% percent of the nominees in the Costume Design category, with two nominations this year compared to all five last year.

“Over the past year,” Burton said, “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. The absence of women in critical behind-the-scenes roles – and the fact that men represent 77% 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 wakeup call for Hollywood executives. The message is ‘Times up for inequality.’ ”

Here are some graphics included in the report; note that numbers are rounded up and therefore might exceed 100%:

Women’s Media Center

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