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31st Jan 2017

OSCARS: Hollywood Is Still An All-Boys’ Club

Women only make up twenty percent of the Oscar nominees in non-acting categories, a shocking figure which is down two percent from 2016.

An analysis carried out by the Women’s Media Centre showed that, from 2006 to 2015, women received just 327 nominations in behind-the-scenes roles that include producers, writers, directors, and cinematographers, compared to 1,387 men.

The group examined a decade of nominations in nineteen categories and found that men continue to dominate roles with the greatest decision-making power. As of this year’s nominations, the cinematography category has maintained a hundred percent shut-out of female nominees in the 89-year history of the awards by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Women are more strongly represented in the visual design categories, such as costume design and production design; in the short film categories; and in documentary features. President of the Women’s Media Centre, Julie Burton, says there is a clear connection between the low numbers of women hired for behind-the-scenes jobs in film and women’s low representation among Oscar nominees,

“If they’re not hired in these non-acting categories, they’ll never have a chance to be recognised for their excellence. Research by the Centre for the Study of Women in Television and Film shows that of the 250 top-grossing films of 2015, women were 9 percent of directors, 11 percent of writers, 20 percent of executive producers, 26 percent of producers, 22 percent of editors, and only 6 percent of cinematographers.

If more women were hired as writers, directors, editors, and producers, the talent pool for nominations would be more reflective of the overall population and audience – more than half of which are women.”

Last year, the Academy came under intense fire for the scarcity of people of colour in acting categories, and of women in other categories. In response to the #OscarsSoWhite and #OscarsWomen campaigns, the Academy announced an unprecedented move to drastically alter its membership rules and vows to double the number of women and minority voters by 2020. Although this year’s nominations certainly indicate more diversity, two-time Oscar winning actress Jane Fonda says that Hollywood is still an all-boys’ club,

“Women in film – and especially women of colour – continue to face discriminatory hurdles.”

Writer and director Amma Asante says it’s important to change the narrative for little girls so that they can picture themselves in the director’s chair – a position of strength, power, and prestige,

“The number of women film directors, especially black female directors, is abysmally low in an industry that too often is insular and resistant to change. The makeup of the Academy is only part of the problem. Most often, it’s the lack of opportunity available to women, and it’s especially hard if you are a woman of colour. I would only hope that my work as a screenwriter and director gives hope to young women.”

The 89th Academy Awards will take place on February 26th, and will be hosted by talk-show host Jimmy Kimmel for the first time.

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