Women in Entertainment: Female Best Director Oscar Nominees and Winners, By The Numbers

Kathryn Bigelow at the 2010 Oscars (Zimbio)

Kathryn Bigelow at the 2010 Oscars (Zimbio)

This post was originally published on January 25, 2018 and is being republished as part of Women in Entertainment Week. It has been updated from the original.

The Oscars are this weekend, and actress/director Greta Gerwig is in the running for Best Director for her feature “Lady Bird.”

Gerwig is only the fifth woman to be nominated for Best Director! Isn’t that insane?! Especially since the Oscars have been occurring since 1927…

Here are some stats on female nominees for the Best Director Oscar:

Estimated Number of Best Director Oscar Nominees, 1927-2017: 451

  • This number covers 90 years of the Academy Awards, with an average of 5 directors nominated per year.

Number of female Best Director nominees: 5

  • Lina Wertmuller for “Seven Beauties” (1976)
  • Jane Campion for “The Piano” (1993)
  • Sofia Coppola for “Lost in Translation” (2003)
  • Kathryn Bigelow for “The Hurt Locker” (2009)
  • Greta Gerwig for “Lady Bird” (2017)

Percentage of female Best Director nominees to total Best Director nominees: 1.11%

Number of American female Best Director nominees: 3

  • Sofia Coppola for “Lost in Translation” (2003)
  • Kathryn Bigelow for “The Hurt Locker” (2009)
  • Greta Gerwig for “Lady Bird” (2017)

Female Best Director winners: 1

  • Kathryn Bigelow for “The Hurt Locker” (2009)

Percentage of Female Best Director Winners to Total Best Director Winners: 1.11%

Number of American female Best Director winners: 1

  • Kathryn Bigelow for “The Hurt Locker” (2009)

Obviously, these numbers need to change. More women need to be recognized and rewarded for their achievements!

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Women in Entertainment: Lina Wertmuller Directing “Seven Beauties,” 1975 #ThrowbackThursday

Lina Wertmuller directing 'Seven Beauties' (Pinimg)

Lina Wertmuller directing ‘Seven Beauties’ (Pinimg)

The first woman nominated for the Best Director Oscar was Lina Wertmuller in 1975 for her film “Seven Beauties.” The film follows an Italian man throughout his life, and the title comes from his seven sisters. “Seven Beauties” was her tenth film.

The next woman nominated for the Best Director Oscar was Jane Campion for her 1993 film “The Piano.”

Women in Entertainment: 80% of Women Directors Made Only 1 Movie Within 10 Years

Ava DuVernay directing 'A Wrinkle in Time' (Movieweb)

Ava DuVernay directing ‘A Wrinkle in Time’ (Movieweb)

The entertainment industry has made it clear that it’s a man’s world. And now we have data to back it up.

The Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism at University of Southern California (USC) put out a study last year through their Media, Diversity & Social Change initiative. The study, titled “Inclusion in the Director’s Chair?,” examined the gender, race and age of directors for the top-grossing 1,000 movies from 2007 to 2016.

Among the interesting findings was the revelation that 80% of women directors made just one film within the 10-year timeframe. This counted them as “one and done.” By contrast, only 54%+ men directed only one film during the same length of time.

The study also called out gender ratios: Across the 1,000 films examined, there were 1,114 directors. (The study did not define if this number was for unique – i.e. only occurring once in the list – directors or not.) The male-to-female director ratio was 24:1.

Across the 1,114 total directors, there were only 35 (!) unique female directors across the stated timeframe. (Ava DuVernay, pictured above, was one of those 35.) That’s 3% of all the directors surveyed. That’s pretty bad!!

Clearly, we have a long way to go before we achieve parity behind the camera.

 

 

Women in Entertainment: Women Hire Women (No Shit)

'Pitch Perfect 3,' 2018 (Indiewire)

‘Pitch Perfect 3,’ 2018 (Indiewire)

Does it surprise anyone that women are more likely to hire women than men are likely to hire women? No? Great, than this next piece of information will totally make sense: The Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film put out a recent study that examined women’s employment in the entertainment industry in certain high-level behind-the-scenes capacities (director, writer, composer, etc.) for the top 250 films of 2017 and the top 100 and top 500 films of 2015.

What this study, aptly titled “The Celluloid Ceiling,” found was that on films with more than one female director, more women were hired for other top roles. The study looked at the incidence of women being hired as writers, editors, cinematographers and composers, and that incidence went up dramatically (ha) when women were also directors, or at least one director.

How dramatically? Women directors employed women writers at a 60% increase than male directors, and employed women composers at a 10% increase than male directors.

For those who require their data in visual form, here’s a graph of said increases:

Graph examining incidence of women hired for top-level behind-the-scenes work with at least one female director vs. exclusively male directors ('The Celluloid Ceiling' Report 2018)

Graph examining incidence of women hired for top-level behind-the-scenes work with at least one female director vs. exclusively male directors (‘The Celluloid Ceiling’ Report 2018)

I have to level with everyone here: I definitely assumed I’d see a sizable uptick in women being hired if there was already a women in the top spot (i.e. director). But I had no idea it’s be this large of a difference.

This also begs the question: Which movies are more likely to have women as directors? Though the “The Celluloid Ceiling” report doesn’t answer that directly, it does shed some light on certain genres which may favor women directors a bit more:

By genre, the largest percentage of women, relative to men, worked in documentaries (30%), followed by comedies (23%), dramas (22%), sci-fi features (20%), animated features (19%), horror features (18%), and action features (13%).

Personally, I’d like to see more women in dramas, sci-fi, and horror, but any gain works! Now let’s make more of them!!

Women in Entertainment: Some Basic Stats

Sofia Coppola (Junkee)

Sofia Coppola (Junkee)

Let’s kick off some basic stats about women in entertainment, shall we? Because knowledge is power, and let’s change this shit! I pulled these from a variety of sources; all figures are from 2017 unless otherwise noted.

Film:

(All figures for the top 100 domestic highest-grossing films of 2017)

  • Women comprised 10% of directors, 8% of writers, and 2% of cinematographers.
  • Women comprised 37% of major characters, and comprised 34% of all speaking characters.
  • In terms of female characters’ race and ethnicity, 68% of female characters were white, 16% were Black, 7% were Latina, 7% were Asian, and 2% were defined as “other” (no delineation given).
  • Women comprised 5% of total leaders depicted, compared to 8% for men.

 

TV:

(All data pulled from the 2016-2017 television season)

  • Women comprised “42% of major characters on broadcast network, cable, and streaming programs.”
  • For womens’ speaking roles with respect to race and ethnicity, Black women spoke in 19% of all roles, Asian women spoke in 6% of all roles, and Latina women spoke in 5% of all roles. Each group showed gains year-over-year.
  • Women comprised 28% of creators, directors and writers and other above-the line functions as defined by the survey.
  • Four women or fewer were employed in certain behind the scenes roles at 50% of programs.

And finally, this gem:

Hollywood’s top paid union executive—a man—earned 60 percent more than the highest-paid female union executive.

Makes you want to burn it all down, doesn’t it? And there are many more of these depressing and disappointing statistics out there.

Hopefully with all the awareness and dialogue surrounding gender disparity in the field right now, we’re on track to make some BIG changes.

Welcome to Women in Entertainment Week!

Directors Patty Jenkins, Sofia Coppola, Dee Rees, and Greta Gerwig (Vulture)

Directors Patty Jenkins, Sofia Coppola, Dee Rees, and Greta Gerwig (Vulture)

Welcome to Women in Entertainment Week here on Sex & Stats! This week, we’ll be devoting content to the various statistics surrounding women who work in the entertainment field. When you’re watching the Oscars on Sunday, you’ll know your stats! Enjoy!