The Oscars still tell us to listen twice as much to men.Featured in: Forbes
Results featured in: Forbes.
In a week the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) will present the Oscar winners of 2019. Awards in 24 categories will be handed out, with the most prestigious one being Best Picture. We all know the Oscars have faced quite severe accusations of inequality and lack of diversity (did you know only five women have ever been nominated for Best Director, for instance?). We decided to find out if these accusations are still valid for 2019, or if filmmakers and award-givers have actually made an effort to change. Turns out, they haven’t.
We ran the eight movies nominated for Best Picture through Ceretai’s algorithm for male and female speaking time, and the results are pretty… stone age. The average speaking time for women in the world’s best movies in 2019 is only 29%. In other words, the Oscars are telling us to listen more than twice as much to men as to women.
This isn’t news to anyone who’s been following the Oscars for a while: these numbers are quite consistent with the last 30 years of Best Picture winners.
So, what do we make of this? Two movies with a lot of female speaking time are heavily weighing up for the six other movies that have a severe lack of women speaking. It remains to be seen which wins, but there is obviously room for improvement.
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*Footnote on maths: If you take the average of the percentage for each nominated movie, the result is that women speak 34% of the time. However, that’s a simplification because in the movies with higher female speaking time, overall speaking time is shorter. For instance, in Roma, women speak for a total of 40 minutes, and that’s 90% of the speaking time. In Green Book, men speak for over an hour, but that’s “only” 88%. If you watch every single Best Picture nominee, you will have listened to men speaking for five hours and 17 minutes, and women speaking for two hours and nine minutes. Those numbers are equivalent to a 29% female speaking time – not 34%
*Footnote II: An earlier version of this post was posted on the 17th of February. An update was made on the 20th of February.