In the course of the first four installments of this five-part series on the gender gap at the Oscars and BAFTAs, we discovered that the academy has made much better progress in recent years than their British counterparts. We determined that should this trend continue, the Academy Awards will soon overtake the BAFTAs and the ratio of female to male nominees and winners will level out much faster. Be sure to read part one (historic overview), part two (last 20 years), part three (projected trends) and part four (individual years).
Progress is being made, albeit not year in and year out. The industry and the pictures it churns out are far too erratic to display progress at that level. However, on a large scale, such as by decades, the progress is plain to see. The goal should be a 50:50 ratio of female and male nominees and winners.
The closest we’ve got is a ratio of 80:30 male to female winners at the BAFTAs in 1999 and at the Oscars in 2008, as shown in figure 8b in Part 4 of the study. The closest we’ve got nominations wise is a ratio of 76:24 in 2005 and 2007, both at the BAFTAs – displayed in figure 8a, again in Part 4. The best ratio of male to female nominees the Oscars managed was in 2008 and 2017, with 78:22, again shown in figure 8a.
Those are the most favorable statistics the academy and BAFTA have to display – statistics they most likely would not be proud of, particularly in the year of 2017 – though both would point to the progress being made decade after decade as their own sort of ‘antidote.’ No doubt both academies will take the blame for the dismal findings of this study and for their failure to nominate more women when giving the opportunity. However, the opportunity to do so is not all that common, which is why it is perhaps unfair to judge the two awards groups too harshly.
However even these statistics are not ones to extol. While the two academies have failed to nominate and reward a substantial number of women, the industry is not giving enough opportunities to female filmmakers. But awards ceremonies reflect the industry. They do not create the attitudes and biased system – the industry does that. A system and industry, then, which is undoubtedly male.
Film awards come at the end of a project’s life cycle. After a film has gone through pre-production, shooting, post-production, release and reception, only then do awards ceremonies come into play. They are at the end of the line, whereas the problem arises at the beginning. If not enough female-orientated projects are made, then the numbers won’t be there at the end of the cycle.
There isn’t a 50:50 split between male-orientated projects being made and female ones being made, so that imbalance will carry on through every phase of the film cycle, including and ending with awards ceremonies. When there comes a time that there is such a parity between women and men, then it will be found at the Academy Awards and BAFTAS too.