Women in the Arts and Media

Representation is important.

Women representation is important. POC representation is important. LGBT+ representation is important.

As a straight, white woman living in Canada, I am fully aware of the privileges I have and this might not be my place to make comments. However, as a straight, white woman who so badly wants work in the arts and entertainment industry, which is currently dominated by men, I feel that it is my place to comment on this. However, I will not look at the POC and LGBTQ+ stats, at least not today.

After doing some very unscientific research on women in film and women in theatre via Wikipedia, I have never been more disheartened and discouraged by the results I found. I looked at Oscar and Tony nominees and winners from 2000-2017 for more of the creative roles like Best Book, Best Director, Best Score, Best Editing, and Best Design. By no means is this a comprehensive list, this are just some of the non-acting categories I looked at.

Women in Theatre (Tony Awards Stats)

Since 2000, there have been:

  • Best Book – 10 female nominees (out of 73 nominees total); 2 female winners
  • Best Music – 11 female nominees (out of 70 nominees total); 3 female winners
  • Best Lyrics – 9 female nominees (out of 72 nominees total); 2 female winners
  • Best Director (for both plays and musicals combined) –  23 female nominees (out of 116 nominees total); 8 female winners (2 for musicals, 6 for plays)
  • Best Play – 10 female nominees (out of 55 nominees total); 2 female winnersScreen Shot 2017-07-09 at 9.27.49 PM

Screen Shot 2017-07-09 at 9.24.04 PM

What’s upsetting about this is the pure percentages of women writers and directors who get recognized. Seeing that only 11% of Tonys in four writing categories the past 17 years have been won by women makes me sad. This is especially discouraging to people like me who want to write and create things for the theatre. The directing is a little bit better, but not much. Women are creative. Women have visions of creative work. I mean, look at Lynn Nottage. She’s won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama TWICE but if her shows don’t win any Tonys on Broadway, they close. Meanwhile, the shows that won awards are directed by men and get to remain open, regardless of the content. I suppose that’s just the business of Broadway but that’s still not fair.

Women in Film (Academy Awards Stats)

Since 2000, there have been:

  • Best Director – 2 female nominees (out of 70 nominees total); 1 female winner
  • Best Editing – 9 female nominees (out of 87 nominees total); 3 female winners
  • Best Score – 2 female nominees (out of 70 nominees total); 0 female winners
  • Best Cinematography – 0 female nominees (out of 70 nominees total); 0 female winners
  • Best Production Design – 65 female nominees (out of 141 nominees total); 14 female winners
  • Best Original Screenplay – 13 female nominees (out of 113 nominees total); 3 female winners

Screen Shot 2017-07-09 at 9.46.58 PM

If you read my bucket list post, you’ll know that one of the things on that list was to have my name in a major blockbuster movie, preferably for writing (I dunno I really want to write a play or a musical or a screenplay). For a long time, I really wanted to go to film school and I’m still really interested in movies and I love watching behind the scenes stuff. But again, the statistics I found were really discouraging. Men are given the majority of the creative jobs on a movie set – the main females involved are the actresses. Why can’t a woman have a chance to bring her creative vision to life through either directing or cinematography. Women can do these technical yet creative jobs, not just sewing and designing costumes (and fashion is stereotypically a “female” thing). The fact that Wonder Woman was a story about a woman directed by woman made it a really good movie, because let’s face it, men can’t tell women’s stories the same way women can.

While these are some of the most depressing statistics about women in the arts, there’s something ironic about the whole thing. Growing up, I find boys tend to be discouraged from pursuing careers in the arts. Oh, you want to be a dancer? Dancing’s for girls. You want to write music? That’s okay as a hobby, but not a career. You like drama class? You’re a sissy. Boys are expected to go into careers like business or trades or engineering. Yet somehow, all the boys who do get into careers in the arts, get all the recognition. Girls on the other hand are somehow more encouraged to pursue arts than STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) careers. Girls train 8+ hours a day 6 days a week to be ballerinas and they won’t be recognized for it. Girls are encouraged to be a stay at home mom and do writing or visual arts on the side as a hobby. But if one of those “hobbies” becomes public and becomes something they do for a living, it’s not recognized and it gets scoffed at –  “Oh, it’s just art.” My point is, if we a society are encouraging women to pursue art as a viable career, WHY AREN’T WE RECOGNIZING THEM FOR IT? Is it because men are breaking gender norms to some extent and thus we are rewarding them? Is it because women’s work honestly just isn’t as good?

Women are creative. 

Women have incredible stories to tell. 

Women deserve to be recognized for their work. 


I’m interested to know your thoughts. Let me know in the comments below.

This week on my Mixtapes page, you can find a playlist full of strong, feminist songs.

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