The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is now made up of more women than men after women picked up four board seats in the organization’s recent elections.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, it’s the first time in the body’s 94-year history that women have held the majority: The split is 31 women to 23 men. People of color also made significant gains in the Academy’s 2021-2022 elections, increasing their representation on the board by 25 percent.
The election results are a promising sign after the upheaval taking place at the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, another entertainment industry pillar that is quickly crumbling because of its inability to reform itself in response to criticism about the organization’s problems with diversity. Leadership’s mishandling of the backlash at the HFPA has led to (among many other things) the 2022 Golden Globes getting cancelled. On Friday, two Golden Globes voters resigned in protest.
Of course, the Academy has had its own turmoil to address in the wake of #OscarsSoWhite, the viral 2012 hashtag that drew people’s attention to how the demographic of the nominees—overwhelmingly white and male—was reflected in the body that nominated them. In 2016, when the issue gained more traction, the Academy’s then 51-person board of governors was entirely white to just two exclusions; only 17 were women. That year, the Academy rolled out a number of drastic changes to its membership process and voting board, increasing the number of seats on the board and imposing term limits on its voting members.
But their changes have been, let’s say, uneven: Last year, the Academy announced a diversity mandate its members would begin implementing in 2024. The rubric, which included requirements for diversity onscreen as well as behind-the-scenes, essentially reduced broad questions of equity and inclusion to a neat checklist.
Likewise, the raw numbers of how many women and people of color sit on the Academy’s board—while important!—won’t solve everything that’s wrong with the Oscars, or the institution that hands them out. But having a more diverse governing board certainly helps.