GENDERat the Oscars®Women nominees and winners across 95 years at the Academy Awards®
This section overviews the prevalence of women nominees and winners at the Academy Awards®. We focused on the major categories for feature-length films currently presented by the Academy, including those categories that have evolved into today’s awards. This means that categories which present awards for short-form content were excluded, as were historical categories that are no longer presented. You can read more about our full methodology here.We describe the overall percentage for each category, indicating when the first woman was nominated, how many women have won, and when the first win occurred. We also present data on women of color throughout this section. Because the Best Actor/Actress in a Leading Role and Best Actor/Actress in a Supporting Role categories are specific to gender, information about these distinctions focuses on men and women of color. You can navigate to specific categories using the menu, or read through to learn more about the presence of women at the Academy Awards®.
Of the 13,253 nominees at the Academy Awards® since 1929, 17% were women and 83% were men. The ratio of men to women nominees was 5 to 1. Sixteen percent of all winners across the last 95 years were women. Less than 2% of nominees were women of color. The first woman of color was nominated in 1936 (Merle Oberon). Of all Academy Award® winners, women of color were 2%. The first woman of color to win any Oscar® did so in 1940 (Hattie McDaniel).
Best Actor in a Supporting Role
A total of 435 nominees for Best Actor in a Supporting Role have been named since 1937. Ten percent or 43 of the nominees were from an underrepresented racial/ethnic group. There were 56 years when no underrepresented men were nominated for this award. The first nomination for an underrepresented actor in this category was in 1948 (Thomas Gomez). The first win for an underrepresented actor occurred in 1953 (Anthony Quinn). A total of 12 underrepresented actors have won the Oscar® in this category: Anthony Quinn (1953, 1957), Louis Gossett Jr. (1983), Haing S. Ngor (1985), Denzel Washington (1990), Cuba Gooding Jr. (1997), Benicio Del Toro (2001), Morgan Freeman (2005), Javier Bardem (2008), Mahershala Ali (2017, 2019), Daniel Kaluuya (2021).Looking at underrepresented actors, 23 nominees have been Black/African American, with the first nomination for a Black actor in 1970 (Rupert Crosse) and the first of 7 wins for Best Actor in a Supporting Role in 1983 (Louis Gossett, Jr.). The first of 9 Hispanic/Latino nominees was announced in 1948 (Thomas Gomez) and the first Hispanic/Latino winner was in 1953 (Anthony Quinn). Nine Asian nominees have been named, beginning in 1958 (Sessue Hayakawa), with only one winner (Haing S. Ngor, 1985). One Middle Eastern/North African man has been nominated, the first in 1963 (Omar Sharif), though he did not win. Similarly, the first of three men with Indigenous heritage was nominated in 1971 (Chief Dan George) but none were awarded the Oscar®.
Best Actress in a Supporting Role
Of the 435 nominees for Best Actress in a Supporting Role since 1937, 12% or 51 were women of color. The first nomination and win for a woman of color occurred in 1940 (Hattie McDaniel). Overall, 14 women of color have won an Oscar® for Best Actress in a Supporting Role: Hattie McDaniel (1940), Miyoshi Umeki (1958), Rita Moreno (1962), Whoopi Goldberg (1991), Mercedes Ruehl (1992), Jennifer Hudson (2007), Penélope Cruz (2009), Mo'Nique (2010), Octavia Spencer (2012), Lupita Nyong'o (2014), Viola Davis (2017), Regina King (2019), Youn Yuh-jung (2021), Ariana DeBose (2022).There have been 29 Black/African American women nominated for this award, beginning with Hattie McDaniel, who also earned the first of 9 wins. Twelve Hispanic/Latino women have been nominated, beginning in 1955 (Katy Jurado) with the first winner in 1962 (Rita Moreno). In 1958 (Miyoshi Umeki) the first Asian woman was nominated and won, while Asian women earned a total of 8 nominations and 2 wins. Three Middle Eastern/North African women were nominated. The first was nominated in 2000 (Catherine Keener). Jocelyne LaGarde was the only Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander woman nominated (1967). No Middle Eastern/North African or Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander women have won the award.
Best Actor in a Leading Role
A total of 471 men have been nominated for Best Actor in a Leading Role. Nine percent of the nominees were from underrepresented racial/ethnic groups. The first nomination and win for an underrepresented actor in this category was in 1951 (José Ferrer). There have been 59 years when no underrepresented actors have been nominated in this category. One of those years is 2023. A total of 10 underrepresented men have won the Oscar® for Best Actor in a Leading Role: José Ferrer (1951), Yul Brynner (1957), Sidney Poitier (1964), Ben Kingsley (1983), F. Murray Abraham (1985), Denzel Washington (2002), Jamie Foxx (2005), Forest Whitaker (2007), Rami Malek (2019), and Will Smith (2022).There were 26 Black/African American men nominated for this award, with the first nomination in 1959 (Sidney Poitier) and the first win in 1964 (Sidney Poitier). The first of 11 Hispanic/Latino nominees and the first winner was named in 1951 (José Ferrer). Six Asian men were nominated for this award and the first won in 1957 (Yul Brynner). Three Middle Eastern/North African men were nominated, with the first nominee and winner in 1985 (F. Murray Abraham). Four actors with Indigenous heritage were nominated for an Oscar®. None won.
Best Actress in a Leading Role
Out of 474 nominations for Best Actress in a Leading Role, 5% or 26 have gone to women of color. The first nomination was in 1936 (Merle Oberon). The first win was in 2000 and went to Hilary Swank. Although Hilary Swank has Hispanic/Latino heritage, she may not personally identify with this community. The only other woman of color to win this award was Halle Berry (2002). There have been 73 years when no women of color have been nominated in this category.There have been 14 Black/African American women nominated for this award, beginning in 1955 (Dorothy Dandridge). Nine Hispanic/Latino women have been nominated, with the first nomination in 1999 (Fernanda Montenegro). Two Asian women (Merle Oberon, Michelle Yeoh) have been nominated. One Middle Eastern/North African woman has been nominated in this category (Salma Hayek, 2003). Three indigenous women have been nominated for this award (Merle Oberon, Keisha Castle-Hughes, Yalitza Aparicio).
Of the 476 nominees in the category of Best Director, less than 2% or 8 have been women.* This is a ratio of 59 males nominated to every 1 woman. Of the 95 years examined, 88 were devoid of women. Half of women’s nominations for Best Director have occurred after 2010. There has only been one year where 2 women have been nominated for Best Director. That year was 2021.
The women nominated for Best Director were: Lina Wertmüller (1977), Jane Campion (1994, 2022), Sofia Coppola (2004), Kathryn Bigelow (2010), Greta Gerwig (2018), Chloé Zhao (2021), and Emerald Fennell (2021). Three women have won the award, which is 3% of all winners, and one was a woman of color (Chloé Zhao).
Of the 676 nominees for Best Cinematography, less than 1% or 3 were women.* In 92 of the 95 years included in the analysis, there have been no women nominated for this award. The three women that have been nominated since 2018 are Rachel Morrison (2018), Ari Wegner (2022), and Mandy Walker (2023). No women of color have been nominated for Best Cinematography, and no woman has ever won.
Best Original Screenplay
There were 1,052 nominees in the Best Original Screenplay category between 1929 and 2023.* Of those, 10% were women and 90% were men. The first women were nominated in this category in 1930: Bess Meredyth (nominated twice) and Josephine Lovett. In Oscar’s® 95-year history, there were 36 years when no women were nominated for Best Original Screenplay. To date, gender parity has only been reached in one year. That year was 1933.
Of the 104 women nominated in this category, only 4 were from an underrepresented racial/ethnic group (Suzanne de Passe, Aída Bortnik, Callie Khouri, Iris Yamashita). A total of 15 women have won the Oscar® for Best Original Screenplay. All but one of the women who have won this award were white.
Best Adapted Screenplay
Out of 539 nominees for Best Adapted Screenplay, 11% were women. Of the 62 women nominated, 8 have won.* The category reached gender parity in 1992 when half the nominees (4 in total) were women. The only other year when 4 women were nominated was in 2021. That year, 3 of those 4 women co-wrote the same film (Borat Subsequent Moviefilm). Only 4 women of color have been nominated in this category. Three were nominated in or after 2018. All 8 women who won this award were white.
Best Film Editing
Women comprised 14% of all 575 nominees for Best Film Editing.* These 82 nominations began in 1935 with Anne Bauchens’ nod for Cleopatra. In 1976, 1999, and 2016 three women were nominated in the category– in 2016 this meant that the category reached gender parity.
A total of 15 women have won this award. Only 2 women of color have been nominated in this category: Joi McMillon (2017) and Chloé Zhao (2021). Neither have won.
Of the 844 individual nominees for Best Picture, 17% were women.* The first woman was nominated and won in this category in 1974 (Julia Phillips, The Sting). A total of 16 women have won in this category, or 12% of all winners. There were 32 years when no women were nominated. However, at least one woman has been nominated in this category every year since 1994. Less than 1 percent of nominees in the category were women of color. Of the 7 women of color nominated, the first was in 2015 (Oprah Winfrey, Selma), with the first win in 2020 (Kwok Sin-ae, Parasite). Of the 145 women nominated in this category, 57% have received only one nomination, including all the women of color nominees. In comparison, 50% of men have been nominated only once. There were 5 women who were nominated 4 or more times: Kathleen Kennedy (8 nominations), Dede Garner (7 nominations), Donna Gigliotti (4 nominations), Megan Ellison (4 nominations), and Kristie Macosko Krieger (4 nominations). Only 2 of these women have won.
Best Animated Feature Film
Seventeen percent of the 194 nominees for Best Animated Feature Film were women.* The first woman was nominated in 2008 (Marjane Satrapi, Perseopolis), which was also the first nomination for a woman of color. A total of 10 women of color have been nominated for this award. At least one woman has been nominated in this category annually since 2012. 2013 saw the first of 5 total wins for a woman in this category (Brenda Chapman, Brave). Only in 2022 did the first woman of color win an Oscar® in the category of Best Animated Film (Yvett Merino, Encanto). Only 3 women have been nominated more than once in this category, and each received two nominations (Bonnie Arnold, Osnat Shurer, Arianne Sutner).
Best Production Design
Out of 1,557 nominees for Best Production Design, 12% were women.* The first woman was nominated in 1942 (Julia Heron), with the first winner in 1949 (Carmen Dillon). Thirty women have won an Oscar® for Best Production Design.
The percentage of women nominated in this category has increased over time. From complete absence in the 1930’s, women comprised 50% or more of nominees across the last three years. Six women of color have been nominated in this category and two have won. The first nomination for a woman of color was in 1986 (Shinobu Muraki), with the first win in 2007 (Pilar Revuelta).
Best Costume Design
More than half–58%–of the 529 nominees for Best Costume Design were women.* At least one woman has been nominated each year since the distinction was first awarded in 1949. A total of 70 women have won the Oscar® in this category, compared to 45 men. Only 2% percent of all nominees for Best Costume Design were women of color, with 4 women of color winning the award. 1983 was the year that the first woman of color was nominated and won (Bhanu Athaiya). Of the 12 nominations for a woman of color, 4 went to Ruth E. Carter. She has won the award once, in 2019.
Best Documentary Feature
Women received 28% of the 587 nominations for Best Documentary Feature.* There were 28 years when no women were nominated for this award. The first woman was nominated in 1949 (Janice Loeb, The Quiet One) with the first win in 1956 (Nancy Hamilton, The Unconquered). Women were 19% of all winners for this award, securing 24 Oscars® to men’s 104. Women of color represented 5% of all nominees. The first woman of color was nominated in 1982 (Teté Vasconcellos) while the first win for a woman of color was in 1995 (Frida Lee Mock). Four women of color have won the Oscar® for Best Documentary Feature: Frida Lee Mock (1995), Zana Briski (2005), Audrey Marrs (2011), and Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi (2019).
Best Original Score
Of the 974 nominees for Best Original Score, 12 were women and 962 were men.* This is a ratio of 80 men to every one woman nominated. In fact, John Williams alone (48 nominations in this category) has received four times as many nominations as all women nominees in this category combined. The first woman was nominated in 1946 (Ann Ronnell), with the first to win in 1984 (Marilyn Bergman). Four women have won the Oscar® for Best Original Score. Only 1 woman of color has been nominated in the 95-year history of the Academy Awards®. That nomination was for Germaine Franco and came in 2022. In other words, the Academy has nominated John Williams 48 times for every one nomination in this category for a woman of color.
Best Original Song
Women received 11% of the nominations for Best Original Song, while men received 89%.* The first woman was nominated in 1936 (Dorothy Fields) and won in 1937 (Dorothy Fields). A total of 19 women have won in this category. Two percent of nominees were women of color– a total of 19 nominations. An indigenous woman was the first woman of color to be nominated and win (Buffy Sainte-Marie), which occurred in 1983. Four women of color have won the Oscar® for Best Original Song.
Best Visual Effects
Only 4 women have been nominated in the category of Best Visual Effects.* This is less than 1% of the 818 nominees in this category and a ratio of 203 men to every one woman nominee. The four women nominated were all white women: Suzanne M. Benson (1987), Pamela Easley (1994), Sara Bennett (2016), and Genevieve Camilleri (2021). Two women have won, the first in 1987 (Suzanne M. Benson) and the second in 2016 (Sara Bennett).
Best Makeup & Hairstyling
Of the 286 nominees for Best Makeup and Hairstyling, 39% were women.* In only 5 of the 41 years examined have no women been nominated in this category. The first women were nominated and won in 1983 (Michèle Burke, Sarah Monzani). Thirty-nine percent of Oscar® winners in this category were women. A total of 4% of nominees were women of color, and six women of color have won. The first woman of color was nominated and won in 1994 (Yolanda Toussieng).
A total of 3% or 43 of the 1,402 nominees for Best Sound were women.* This is a ratio of 32 men to every 1 woman nominated. The first woman was nominated in 1987 (Cecelia Hall), and the same woman was the first winner in 1991. Ten women have won the Academy Award® for Best Sound. Only 6 nominees in this category were women of color. The first was nominated in 2017 (Ai-Ling Lee) with the first win in 2021 (Michelle Couttolenc). There have been over twice as many nominees named Richard (with a combined total of 42 nominations) as there were for women of color nominees in this category.
Women’s place at the Academy Awards® began with their nominations in the category of Best Actress in a Leading Role. Beyond the confines of the acting categories, however, women’s work as directors, cinematographers, composers, and visual effects supervisors has gone unrecognized for the majority of the 95-year history of the Oscars®. Although women received 17% of nominations in the categories we examined, this figure was inflated by the annual inclusion of acting categories. When we removed the categories of Best Actor/Actress in a Leading or Supporting Role from our analysis, women received only 12% of all nominations since 1929. Similarly, the overall percentage of women who have won an Oscar® decreased from 16% to 11% when the acting categories were removed. The lack of acknowledgement for women’s creative excellence speaks not only to the devaluation of women in the awards sphere but to longstanding biases and dismissal surrounding women’s work across the film industry.
To provide a comprehensive understanding of women’s nominations at the Academy Awards®, the chart below provides information on the number and percentage of nominees by category and by year from the first ceremony to today. While the overall figures regarding women’s nominations remain low, there are categories where women have excelled. These, however, are in more stereotypical domains. In particular, women earned more than half of all nominations for Best Costume Design. In 51 of the years we assessed, 58% of nominees in this category were women. Women also made up 39% of nominees in the Best Makeup and Hairstyling category and 28% of Best Documentary Feature nominees.
In addition to specific categories, it is also important to note that there has been change over time. Women earned more than 11 times as many nominations in 2023 as they did in 1929. At the first Academy Awards®, women earned 5 nominations for acting alone, compared to 56 nominations across 13 of the 19 categories we examined this year. The high point for women came in 2021 when 66 nominees (33% of the total) were women. Though this figure is still far below the share of women in the population (roughly 50%), it does demonstrate that recognition for women has evolved since the early days of film.
The Academy’s record of acknowledging the work of women of color, however, is abysmal. Only 2% of nominees were women of color. This figure dropped even further to a mere 1% when acting nominations were removed from the analysis. Without the acting categories, only 26 Academy Award® winners have been women of color across 95 years (with acting nominees, the number was 43).
Nevertheless, there has been growth over time. Across the sample, in many years when women of color were nominated, there were only 1 or 2 nominations across all the categories we assessed, including acting. For each of the last five years, however, nominations for women of color were in the double digits. In fact, 21 nominees in 2021 were women of color– 18 of which were non-acting nominations. That year, 8 women of color took home an Oscar®, representing nearly 20% of all Oscar® wins for women of color in 95 years. Women of color have always been a force for creative, compelling storytelling and have demonstrated excellence in their crafts. Removing the impediments that have restricted them from working across Hollywood– as well as the biases that have prevented recognition for their work– are critical steps to ensuring that more women of color are nominated and win Academy Awards® in the years to come.