43 reasons the Oscars are sexist.






I am an award show junkie.

Despite not really having two cares to rub together about celebrity culture the rest of the year, between December and March I become completely obsessed with the beautiful people and their shiny bits of ceremonial metal.

But there’s one thing that’s always kind of irked me about awards season. And that’s the awards themselves.

Why do we still have men’s and women’s categories at the Oscars? Or the Globes, SAGs, BAFTAs, or – the poor man’s award show – the Critics Choice, for that matter.

When it comes to acting, there is no reason why men and women can’t compete in the same field. It’s not a sport. It’s not like Cate Blanchett and Leonardo DiCaprio are lining up in their gym gear, trying to see who can hurl a hammer the furthest, or jump the highest, or do any other sort of activity in which you could say that one gender has an inherent biological advantage.

From a historical perspective, I understand why it would have made sense to separate the awards. The roles that women played and the roles that men played were very different. Women needed to be dainty and pretty, and men needed to, well… carry the plot. But surely things are different now, and the guys and the girls can be ‘graded’ as such.


This is a monologue that I have given many a time in the lead up to the Oscars.

“The Oscars are archaic!” I cry. “Meritocracy!” I say.

But, I rarely stop to think that, maybe, the awards season’s affirmative action policy is actually doing the chicks of Hollywood a favour.

Every year, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences holds a their Nominees’ Luncheon. After the luncheon, they get all of the nominees together and take a photo. Here’s the one from this year:

That’s a lot of blokes.

(And, yes, Meryl is up in the back row looking the wrong way. Bless her cotton socks.)

This year there are 216* nominations, if you count those with multiple nominations (for example, Spike Jonze for Her) as having multiple separate nominations. (At the ceremony; I don’t know what sort of crazy hijinks are going on at the after parties.) Only 43 of those nominations were for women. If you don’t include the ‘AA-ed’ acting categories, there are just 33.

Not all of those women will win. Not just because some of them are against each other in the same category (for example Catherine Martin is nominated for her costume design work on The Great Gatsby alongside Patricia Norris for her work in 12 Years a Slave), but because, even when they’re nominated, women just don’t win that many Oscars.


There were 25 women nominated for non-acting Oscars last year. Six won one.

In 86 years of the Academy Awards, only four women have ever been nominated for a Best Director Oscar, with just one going on to win the damn thing (Kathryn Bigalow for The Hurt Locker in 2009).

If the oft-thanked Academy combined men and women into the same acting categories, is this what would happen?

Realistically, probably not. The ratio of male to female actors is far more even than the ratio of male to female directors, or sound designers, or film editors, or professions celebrated in any of the other categories in which no women have been nominated this year.

But – as you chuckle at Ellen DeGeneres’ opening monologue, swoon over the divine dress that Lupita Nyong’o is sure to wear, and weep when Frozen‘s ‘Let it Go’ wins Best Song (it’s gonna happen, people) – it’s something to think about.


 * I got that figure by going here and counting the individual names. So, as some people are nominated for more than one Oscar, there are fewer than 216 nominees. But I couldn’t be arsed to figure that exact number out. If you are arsed, let me know in the comments!