Amid Oscar buzz, women nominations remain scarce

For years now, women have had to fight for nominations, awards, and merely jobs in general as part of the historically male-dominated film industry. With the Oscars coming up on Mar. 27  and Women’s History Month in full swing, it’s important to discuss the impacts women have had on the film world as well as the many struggles they are still facing. 

The numbers are in for the 2022 Academy Award nominations, and, astonishingly, only 65 out of the 229 Oscar nominees are female—that’s 28 percent, the lowest number in three years. While that statistic is certainly much higher than it was, say, 30 years ago, it is still obscenely low, and certainly doesn’t accurately represent the demographics of the movie industry. 

“The statistics aren’t shocking; they’re just disappointing.” says Lily Straussman, a junior student in the Video Production & Design class at ETHS. “Women have always been poorly represented in Hollywood… whether that be in the writing, character development or general portrayal of women on screen.”

To find out more about what this means and about what it’s like to be a woman in film, we talked to America Young. We were lucky enough to get in touch with Young through a mutual friend, and she gave us great insight into her job. She has been a part of the film community for over 10 years and is involved in many projects including screenwriting, voice acting, producing, directing and even stunt performance and coordinating. It’s safe to say that she’s had her fair share of experience.

“They’re never [explicit],” Young says, speaking to her experience looking for employment in the movie industry as a woman. “[The producers and casting directors] will never just come right out and say, ‘You can’t because you’re a woman,’ but you’ll know.” 

Young describes multiple times when she was up against a man for a job. 

“I’d have 10 times more credits and experiences than he has with his one credit, and he’d still get it,” Young says. 

While it’s well known that this phenomenon isn’t exclusive to the film industry and is common in other workplaces, it doesn’t mean that change isn’t being made.

In recent years, attention to female directors, in particular, has grown. With directors like Chloé Zhao, who won best director in 2021 for Nomadland, and Jane Campion, nominated this year for Power of the Dog, coming to the forefront of the movie industry’s news, female directors are being sought out like never before.

“We’re living in a time that is kind of unprecedented where [producers are] actually seeking out women over men and women of color over men, which is awesome,” Young says. 

In addition to this new desire for women directors, producers and other positions, Young says that employers are now required to report the number of women they have hired, fired, etc. 

“Now they’re tracking it,” she says, “and people are being held accountable. And it’s great.”

Women in film are making history all over the place, and this year’s Academy Awards are no exception. Jane Campion, nominated for best director this year, is breaking barriers by being the first woman to be nominated for best director twice in her career. Three of the best-adapted screenplay nominees are women, and Germaine Franco, the composer of the hit musical Encanto, is the first Latina female to ever be nominated in that category.

And yes, this progress is truly amazing, but there’s still a long way to go. After all, this year many categories such as best original screenplay and visual effects don’t even have any women nominees. And, of the seven women that have ever been nominated for best director, only two have taken home the award. 

“I truly admire all of them,” Young says about female directors, and women in the industry, “because they’re all doing the thing that is practically impossible.”

“But the [fact] of the matter is [that] there’s nothing [a woman] can’t do if we want to do it. Women can do sci-fi, women can do comedy, women can do comic books, women can do [anything]… If we want to do it, we can do it.”