Oscars and BAFTAs gender gap: Has it improved in the last 20 years?

In part one of this study on the gender gap at the Oscars and BAFTAs, I introduced the initial data, which detailed the total number of Academy Awards and BAFTA nominees and winners and split them according to gender. The data was telling, with 10,210 total male Oscar nominees to 1,280 female Oscar nominees. It was much the same story with male and female Oscar winners, as well as nominees and winners at the BAFTAs.

Below, figures 2a and 2b show the average number of male and female nominees and winners (from both awards groups), taken from all ceremonies.

Figures 2a and 2b show that, yes, BAFTA does have a better track record of nominating and awarding female filmmakers in their history. As shown in figure 2a, an average of 19.6 women are nominated at BAFTA every year, compared to the academy’s average of 14.4 women nominated a year. Both of those figures pale to the male averages, however: 114.7 at the Oscars and 97.4 at BAFTA.

Figure 2b, meanwhile, shows that BAFTA are more likely to hand a female nominee an award than the academy : BAFTA has an average of 4.3 female winners per year, while the academy averages only 2.9 female winners a year.

SEE Oscars and BAFTAs gender gap: There have been more male winners than female nominees

Again, those low numbers appear even more negative when compared with the male averages. BAFTA have an average of 23.1 male winners a year – over five times the amount of female winners – while the academy has an average of 23.8 male winners a year, almost nine times more than the female equivalent.

BAFTA’s figures are markedly better than the academy’s. The former’s track record of nominating and awarding women is slightly better. However, neither set of data is something of which these awards groups should be proud. The historical disparity between men and women is shown throughout both awards groups histories whic are put into clear, shameful light with these figures.

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Yes, the disparity between men and women at these awards stems from the societal disparity and inequality between the two genders – something which these groups cannot be expected to fix. Men were automatically favored in almost every single context (and still are, to a certain degree) and so this societal skew would naturally have been present in these awards groups, too. An argument could certainly be made that they should take care of their own patch and not enable such unfairness, but these attitudes, sexist and wrong though they were and are, would have been unavoidable and embedded into the roots of both academies in the same way they were rooted in our society.

Perhaps, then, it is fairer to take a more selective look at both academies track records of nominating and awarding women. Looking at more recent ceremonies, the last 20 years for example, will show us a more modern, updated pattern and therefore a more reliable pattern. The academy and BAFTA, in the last two decades cannot hide behind the prevalent issues of society in the way they could’ve done in the pre-liberation era.

By examining this select period, we can judge how much progress both academies have made (if any), how far they’ve come and how much further they may have to go. Below, figures 3a and 3b detail the total number of Oscar and BAFTA nominations for men and women, in the last 20 years only.

Figure 3a, with the Oscar numbers, and figure 3b, with the BAFTA numbers, both show disappointing results. Indeed, the patterns in both figures are the same as the ones shown in figures 1a and 1b. In essence, nothing has changed or been improved; there is a still a huge disparity between the number of male nominees/winners and the number of female nominees/winners – from both awards groups. The disproportion continues.

However, these only show the total number of male and female nominees and winners. Perhaps the averages of female nominees and winners a year, taken from the past 20 years only, will reveal a different story. We’ll be examining that in part three of this study.

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