In the last 20 years only one female director has won the ‘Best Picture’ Oscar award. Does this mean male directors are better or is it simply sexism?
According to a website by Shehroz S. Khan, a scientist at the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute, data shows that since 1999, only 5% of the directors for the ‘Best Picture’ nominations were female. Meaning 1 woman won an Oscar in the last 20 years. This was Kathryn Bigelow in 2009 for her movie ‘The Hurt Locker’. Looking at the data of Oscar nominations for ‘Best Director’, only 8 women were nominated since 1999, whilst 129 men were nominated. The highest number of women nominated in one year was 2 in 2011, whereas the highest number of men nominated was 10 in 2010.
The situation for the ‘Best Director’ awards is much worse with only 3 women having been nominated since 1999, versus the 97 men who were nominated. This was Greta Gerwig in 2017 for her film ‘Lady Bird’, Sofia Coppola for her 2003 film ‘Lost in Translation’ and lastly, as mentioned previously, Kathryn Bigelow for her 2009 film ‘The Hurt Locker’.
Liz Tucker, the chair of Women in Film and Television UK (WFTV), which is an organisation for women working in creative media in the UK, said that she believes “how directors get nominated for awards is deeply a political process, money and marketing play a key role and sometimes, it can still be a bit of an old boys’ network.”
She said “in some quarters of the industry I think there is still a perception that women are a safe pair of hands, but if you want to get that glittery stardust, hire a male director.”
According to an academic research paper published as ‘Gender in Management: An International Journal’ written by Lynn M. Martin, the director industry is mainly male dominated. Women only represent 1 in 4 directors within the UK and are mainly a part of the smaller firms within the country. Only 1 in 226 larger firms have mainly female directors. Thus, this has a lot to do with the fact that such a small number of women are nominated or win the award.
There are other controversial opinions from fans who believe that including women just to fill a quota is more of an insult and that the male films just seem to be better. For example, twitter user @yaayandnaay who tweeted “Can we stop focusing on gender and focus on talent instead? To include a woman just to fill a female quote is sexist and an insult to all women. So, what if there were only men nominated? Their movies were simply better; that’s it. Stop interpreting everything as sexist/racist?”.
Regardless of this, the trend is still happening with the most recent Oscars in 2018 only nominating 1 woman for the ‘Best Picture’ and the ‘Best Director’ award. According to the ‘Insider’, this was noticed during the ceremony. It led to an incident where Emma Stone, who was announcing the ‘Best Director’ nominations said “These four men and Greta Gerwig created their own masterpieces this year.” Highlighting the fact that only one woman was nominated, pointing out how sexist the situation was.