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Yes, half of the Academy’s newest members are women – but is it enough?

Posted by
Lauren Geall
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Oscars membership diversity

The Academy has taken an important step to increase the diversity of their membership - but there’s more to be done.          

In 2016, the viral #OscarsSoWhite campaign made waves as celebrities such as Jada Pinkett Smith and director Spike Lee boycotted the Academy’s annual Oscar awards in protest against the lack of diversity in the line-up. 

The campaign, which started on Twitter, called for the Academy to take action in the face of the shockingly white list of nominees, something which was reflected in the Academy’s membership at the time; according to a LA Times study, in 2012, 90% of the members were white. 

And the lack of diversity has also affected women, too – the LA Times study also showed that 70% of the membership in 2012 were male.

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So, to the delight of many, this year the Academy has taken a big step in the right direction – with their newly-announced line-up of 842 members looking a whole lot more inclusive. 

Out of the 842 invites the Academy has released, 50% went to women, and 29% are POC. In terms of the big picture, that means the percentage of the membership who are now POC has reached 16% – a number which has doubled since 2015. 

Among the Academy’s newest members are British actress Letitia Wright, singers Adele and Lady Gaga and Crazy Rich Asians star Gemma Chan

Claire Foy, Elisabeth Moss and Winston Duke also made the line-up. 

Lady Gaga posing on the red carpet of the London Fashion Awards.
Lady Gaga is one of the famous names joining the Academy this year.

In the last two years, the Academy has taken efforts to diversify their membership in response to the success of #OscarsSoWhite, admitting more women and POC to their membership list. 

In 2017, stars such as Priyanka Chopra and Naomie Harris joined the Academy, and last year, names such as Jada Pinkett Smith, Amy Schumer and Tiffany Haddish were brought on board. 

The Academy’s members are in charge of selecting which films will receive Oscar nominations, so a diverse membership is essential in avoiding a repeat of #OscarsSoWhite. 2019’s Oscars were praised for their diverse list of nominees, with Hannah Beachler becoming the first black woman to win an Oscar for production design. 

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But when POC only make up under a fifth of all the members, it’s time to ask whether the Academy could be doing more to work on their inclusivity. 

And with only 32% of the membership being female, is the newest membership announcement really enough? 

Let’s take a look at the figures – in 2015, the percentage of female members was 27%, and in four years, that number has only risen by 8%. 

In fact, according to the Women’s Media Centre, the number of female nominees for non-acting awards in 2019 actually fell compared to 2018 – 75% of nominees for those awards remained male. 

Seeing the Academy take these massive steps in the right direction is something we can all be happy about, especially when the percentage of POC members has doubled in the last four years. But there’s still a long way to go. 

Images: Getty

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