The Very Underrepresented Women in Oscar History (And That May Not Change in 2020)

The accusation comes up almost every year and 2020 was no exception: the Academy of Oscars selects predominantly male candidates and neglects women in the most prominent categories, as denounced by the hashtag #OscarsSoMale on social networks .

This year, the critics have crystallized around the American Greta Gerwig, director of the film The Daughters of Doctor March, which many saw appear in the list of nominations for the Oscar for best director. His absence, and especially the fact that the five nominations in this category are for men, sparked a lively controversy.

Nevertheless, The Daughters of Doctor March is selected in the category of best film, the most prestigious, and in that of best screenplay. And above all, beyond Greta Gerwigwomen have never been so present in the nominations for the Oscars: 65 out of 209 candidates in total, as the Academy pointed out, and 9 of the 24 producers selected are women.

15% of winners since the start of the Oscars

In the history of the Oscars, women, a very small minority on the list, have continued to play supporting roles. Since the first Oscar ceremony in 1929, 376 women have been awarded, or 15% of the 2,435 winners, according to an AFP database. Only Oscars given to individuals (not films) are taken into account. The share of women drops to 10% – 201 out of 2,085 – if we exclude the non-mixed Oscars (best actor, best actress, etc.) to keep only the categories that put women and men in competition.

Feminization has increased over time, but women remain a very small minority: 13% of winners during the first ten editions (4% of mixed Oscars), compared to 22% over the last decade (17% of mixed Oscars). The most feminine ceremony took place in 2016: the jury had rewarded 37% of women (11 out of 30).

No woman has ever won the Oscar for Best Cinematography, while only one woman (out of 94 winners) has won the prestigious Oscar for Best Director. The American Kathryn Bigelow, awarded in 2010 for Minesweepers, will still have to wait to have a successor, no woman being in contention this year. American Greta Gerwig, who was expected to The Daughters of Doctor Marchis nominated only for Best Adapted Screenplay.

Among the 207 winners of the Oscar for best sound mixing is also only one woman: the American Lora Hirschberg in 2011 for Inception. That of the best visual effects does not do much better: two out of 240.

American lyricist Marilyn Bergman and English composers Rachel Portman and Anne Dudley are the only three winners (out of 167) in the “film music” category, respectively for the soundtracks of Yentl (1984), Emma, ​​the matchmaker (1997) and The Full Monty (1998). They could be joined by Icelandic composer Hildur Gudnadottir (Joker), which is among the favorites this year.

Women lead in two categories: makeup and costumes

Women are better represented in the categories “scripts” (21 out of 279), “sound editing” (6 out of 72), “sets” (25 out of 296) and “editing” (15 out of 113), but remain ultra- minority. Only two categories give pride of place to women: make-up and costumes. The Oscar for best make-up artist, which now also rewards the best hairdresser, was awarded to 30 women out of 81 winners (37%).

But it’s the Oscar for best costume designer who wins the prize for feminization. It is the only statuette that has been rewarded by a majority of women (59%, 66 out of 112). The proportion has even risen to 77% since the year 2000. The American Edith Head alone won this Oscar eight times between 1950 and 1974, in particular for Eve (1951) and roman holidays (1954).

Few award-winning actresses over 50

As for the actors and actresses, they got the same number of Oscars. Logical, since they compete in separate categories. But the prize list reveals an under-representation of older actresses, in favor of the very young.

Of 92 Best Actress Oscar winners, only 11 were 50 or older (compared to 21 among actors). Conversely, 32 were aged under 30, against a single actor: Adrien Brody for The pianist in 2003. Result: the award-winning actors are, on average, seven years older than the actresses. However, the gap has narrowed to 4 years over the past decade.

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The Very Underrepresented Women in Oscar History (And That May Not Change in 2020)