Academy makes history by inviting just as many women as men to join

The motion picture academy extended invitations to 842 film professionals this year. For the first time ever, there was absolute gender parity with 421 women and 421 men asked to join the organization that bestows the Oscars. This moves the academy tantalizing close to its five-year goal of doubling the number of female members by 2020.

To get almost there, the academy had to make the class of 2019 the second biggest in its 90-year history. It is eclipsed only by the 928 creative types who were asked to join in 2018. While it had been thought that the academy would be hard-pressed to match last year’s record roster of invites, it needed to come close in order to have a realistic chance of reaching its target for female members.

The huge intake in 2018 helped the academy reach its other five-year goal of doubling the number of members who were people of color. Last year’s group was 49% female. In 2017, the motion picture academy extended invitations of membership to 774 people, of whom 39% were women.

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However, even with the addition of these record number of women to the ranks, they still only represent 32% of the overall membership (up from 25% in 2015) who vote for the Academy Awards. Likewise for people of color, as those new members move minority representation only from 8% to 16%.

Before the #OscarSoWhite controversy erupted in 2017, the academy already had been making a concerted effort to expand its ranks to include more minority and female members, albeit at a much slower pace than now. Indeed, while women accounted for about 30% of the invitees from 2011 to 2013, in both 2014 and 2015 that slipped back to about 25% where it had been in the first decade of this century.

In 2014, the academy invited 271 people to join, a slight drop from the 276 asked to the party in 2013. In turn, that had been a 57% bump from the 176 additions in 2012. This larger number of invitations follows the elimination of a quota system that had restricted the number of new members in years past.

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