Why Oscar is a Male

Did you know that on average only 16% of the nominees have been women since the awards began? This includes nominees for the “Best Actress” categories. Or did you know that in the 2015 Oscars, 7 categories had zero female nominees? We explored the data behind the gender gap at the prestigious Academy Awards. See our findings below.



How does 2015 score? Worse than before


To know if things improving or getting worse, let's have a look at the composition of nominees for this edition. Excluding special awards, there are no female candidates in 7 categories. And 12 if we count also the special awards (like the Awards of Merit or Award of Commendation)

If we exclude acting and special awards, there has been a women winner only in six awards.

Female nominations in 2015

Click on the headings to sort ascending/descending on a variable. Select values from the filters to customize the visualization. Reset them to see the overall statistics. Click "Explore" to transform this into another type of chart, change the variables plotted, add dynamic filters. 

Huge Oscar Gender Gap is Not Shrinking

Over the 87 years of the Academy Awards, several things have remained constant. The Red Carpet. The golden statuette. And the absence of women nominees for the award. During the Academy Awards season pictures of actresses monopolize the front pages of websites, magazines, newspapers and TV shows. We discuss their stunning bodies, their designer clothes, their hairstyles, their make-up.

Unfortunately, very few women are actually nominated for an Oscar. The highest percentage of  female nominees was in 1995, at 26%. And it immediately dropped to 16% the next year. In fact, 2003, 2005 and 2009 were all near-record low years for female Oscar nominations in the last two decadesAnd now 2015 added itself to this list, with only 17% of the nominees being women.

Percentage of male and female nominees through time

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Oscar Winners are Even More Likely to be Male 

The highest percentage of female winners was in 1930. Now the trend is going backwards again. From 2009 through the 2013, fewer women won statuettes than the historical average. The 2012 Oscars recorded only 6% female winners, putting that edition in tie with 1936 and 1948 for the record-low percentage of female winners. Despite the more than half a century of women rights struggles. Over the 86 years, men have on average won 86% of the Awards while being nominated on average for 84% of them.

Percentage of female and male winners through time

Breakdown by gender of the Oscars' winners 1929-2015. Including "Acting" categories which are gender balanced by definition. Click "Explore" to transform this into another type of chart, change the variables plotted, add dynamic filters. Click on each area for more information. 

Categories Women Win...And Categories Where They Barely Exist

Women’s presence is remarkably poor in nearly all categories of the Awards (except, of course, for gender specific categories like Best Actor or Best Actress). In some categories, a woman has never been nominated for an Oscar.

Percentage of Male and Female Oscar Nominees in each field 1929-2015

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Some examples:

  • Since the Animated Feature Film category has been instituted in 2001, only in 2013 a woman has finally managed to win an award: Brenda Chapman for Brave. Not too surprising, since male candidates in this field have been 93% of the total.

  • Among Cinematography nominees: 86 editions and a total of 637 candidates: yet no female candidate ever.

  • Women are scarce also among Directors/Assistant Directors and Special, Visual or Engineering Effects.

    • For Directing only one woman has won: Kathryn Bigelow for The Hurt Locker in 2009.  In this category, the Academy has only nominated four women out of 470 candidates: Lina Wertmuller (1976), Jane Campion (1993), Sofia Coppola (2003) and Bigelow.
    • For Special/Visual/Engineering Effects only six female candidates have been nominated out of 661 total nominees. In other words, men comprise 99% of candidates.  Only three women have won this category since 1928: Vivian Greenham for The Guns of Navarone (1961), Suzanne Benson for Aliens (1986) and Janek Sirrs for The Matrix (1999).

Only in the field of Costume Design we see woman actually surpassing men. In this category they constitute well 55% of the candidates and 58% of the winners. The second category where women score well is for Make-up. Although even in this field there is no real parity and women make up 32% of the winners. Third place for female presence goes to Documentary awards, where woman have been 24% of the nominees and 23% of the winners: surely not bad compared to the rest of the categories, but still far from a 50-50 ratio.


One interactive chart to explore the gender gap, with data on more than 14,000 Oscar candidates

If you want to play more with the gender gap data at the Academy Awards, you can use the following pie chart. Just customize the filters to adjust the distribution and explore patterns in specific years, fields, movies...or a combination of all of these! Click "Explore" to change the type of graph, and easily share or embed your results.

Gender Distribution at the Academy Awards

Select values from the filters to customize the visualization. Reset them to see the overall statistics. Click "Explore" to transform this into another type of chart, change the variables plotted, add dynamic filters.