Percent of women nominated for best director Oscar has hardly changed since 1970s, data shows

ByJohn Kelly WPVI logo
Friday, February 7, 2020
(Left) Kathryn Bigelow poses backstage with the Oscar at the 82nd Academy Awards Sunday, March 7, 2010. (Right) Greta Gerwig arrives at the Oscars on Sunday, March 4, 2018.

LOS ANGELES -- Only one woman has ever won the Oscar for best director.

The reason is pretty clear: Women can't win if they aren't nominated.

Only 1% of the people nominated for best director since the first Academy Awards in the early 1920s have been women, according to our analysis of a database of every nominee and winner in Oscars history.

And the data show that the representation of women among directing nominees hasn't gotten much better in modern times.

Since 1976, when the first woman was nominated for directing, just 2% of the nominees in the category have been women. Since 2000, it's up to only 3%.

Kathryn Bigelow is the only woman to win for directing for 2009's "The Hurt Locker."

This year, that won't change. No women were nominated for the top director honors, with the most talked-about exclusion being Greta Gerwig for "Little Women." Gerwig is nominated for her writing work on that movie, and it's up for best picture.

However, the data show that women have been and continue to be underrepresented when it comes to Oscar nominations for writing, directing and producing the year's best movies. The data come from the Academy's official record at

Outside of the acting categories, where the awards are given to the top men and women in their fields separately, the biggest awards go predominantly to men. Indeed, the vast majority of those nominated are men or all-male teams.

In the writing categories -- for original and adapted screenplays -- women are slightly more represented. But the situation hasn't been improving much in recent years.

Of the nearly 1,000 writers and teams nominated in Oscar history, about 85% were men or all-male teams. And 90% of the winners were men or all-male teams.

That hasn't improved much over time. Since 2000, just 39 of the 200 writing nominations have gone to women or teams including women. That's less than 20% of nominees.

And the share of Oscar-winning writers and writing teams including women since then? Still about 10%, a figure unchanged over more than 90 years of Oscar history.

In the categories for the best movies of year, including best picture, documentary and the newer animated feature film category, women are better represented among the teams of producers named as nominees at almost 30%.

That's up to 47% of the teams nominated since 2000. And about 30% of winners since then.

Those numbers will continue to improve this year. All but one producing team nominated for best picture and best documentary includes a woman, as do most of the teams nominated for best animated feature.