Overlooked for Oscars: Non-Acting, Behind-the-Scenes Women, Says Women's Media Center

Two-time Academy Award winner Jane Fonda, who co-founded the Women’s Media Center with Gloria Steinem and Robin Morgan in 2005, said women are being locked out of behind-the-scenes Oscar nominations. Credit: Andreas Rentz/Getty Images

The Academy Awards must step up and nominate more women for behind-the-scenes Oscars, according to Jane Fonda, a two-time Oscar winner and co-founder of the Women's Media Center.

"A nomination for an Academy Award can open doors," Fonda said in a recently released WMC study detailing recognition for women in the entertainment and media industry. "With three out of every four non-acting nominations going to men, women, again, are missing that stamp of approval."

Three-quarters of the academy nominees in the 19 non-acting categories for the 2019 Academy Awards are men, The Guardian reported Friday.

That's on par with last year when only 23 percent of the nominees were women, according to a report released this week by the Women's Media Center.

The WMC reported concluded this is "an industry-wide problem," as the Golden Globes, the Directors Guild of America and the BAFTAs also failed to nominate any female directors for the 2019 awards season.

Julie Burton, Women's Media Center president, said in the study the lack of women represented on the nomination sheets "is a blow" to the industry.

"In a year with so many films made by women, it is a blow for an industry that seemed to be heading in a different direction after last year's nomination of Greta Gerwig for Lady Bird and mobilization around the Time's Up and #MeToo movements," said Burton. "Instead, no woman director was nominated, and no film directed by a woman was nominated."

That includes a dire lack of women directors nominated this year—and a dearth of women nominated for cinematography, editing, original score and visual effects—categories that traditionally tout male winners.

Of the eight Best Picture nominees, not one was directed by a woman, and no women were nominated in the Oscars Best Director category.

"Again this year, women's talent has not been recognized in many of the most powerful behind-the-scenes categories such as directing, cinematography, and editing," added Burton. At that pace, it will be decades before equality hits the Oscars concludes the study:

"Since the Women's Media Center started counting the number of women nominated for non-acting Academy Awards as of 2006, the overall percentage of women nominees has increased from 18 to 25 percent. By that calculation, it will take another 50 years for women to be equally represented by the Academy. We need industry leaders to get on board and hire more women, especially women of color, in front of and behind the camera."

Shut out of the Best Director nom nods were filmmakers Marielle Heller for Can You Ever Forgive Me?, Chloe Zhao for The Rider, Debra Granik for Leave No Trace and Lynne Ramsay for You Were Never Really Here.

Otherwise, Can You Ever Forgive Me? nominations struck half and half, as Melissa McCarthy snagged a nomination for Best Actress and supporting actor Richard E. Grant was nominated in his category. For the same film—which has gotten more press than The Rider, Leave No Trace and You Were Never Really Here—screenwriters Nicole Holofcener and Jeff Whitty received nominations.

Furthermore, Mudbound nominee Rachel Morrison, who made history in 2018 when she became the first woman to be nominated for a cinematography Oscar, was shut out for her work on the extremely popular Black Panther this season. Black Panther has been nominated in seven other categories.

Breaking the gender mold is animator Domee Shi for her Pixar film, Bao. She is the first woman to direct a short for Pixar. Shi is a Chinese-Canadian storyboard artist.

On the bright side, the WMC report stated that Disney, which owns Pixar, has "taken dramatic steps to break up the boys' club" within its animation studio.

Fonda, feministic icon Gloria Steinem and Robin Morgan co-founded the WMC in 2005. Since 2006, the organization has maintained data of the number of women nominated for non-acting Academy Awards.

Financial supporters of the WMC include Fonda, The Novo Foundation, Pinpoint Foundation, The Streisand Foundation, The Libra Foundation and The Starry Night Fund.