By: Emily Indriolo
In today’s media,we see a lot of controversy over gender inequalities in the industry almost every day. If you go on social media, it will likely be one of the first news topics to pop up. This was the case when we found the article “Women still woefully underrepresented in Oscar nominations, study finds,” written by Nicole Sperling on Entertainment Weekly (or EW). The article outlines the disappointment of this years Oscar nominations, a very lacking lineup of female nominees. The behind the scenes roles seemed to be the ones to suffer the most, dropping by 2% compared to last years nominees. The Women’s Media Center conducted an investigation on the matter and concluded that 80% of all the nominees of behind the scenes roles are men. San Diego State’s Center for the study of Women in Television and Film also conducted research on the matter. They found that of all the top-grossing 250 films in the United States in 2016, that only 17% percent of all the behind the scenes workers were women. This article gave interesting points for how women are being forgotten in the industry, but it also contradicted itself. The writer may not have realized it but for as many negative points as she gave, she provided just as many positive ones.
This article presents examples of two important concepts. The first concept shown in this article is of an illusory correlation. An illusory correlation is a concept to describe the imagined relationship between two things or, in the case of the article, a stronger relationship perceived between two things (Myers, 2015). The two “things” would be the nominations and women. The imagined relationship is the theory this article suggests, that because they are women they are not receiving Oscar nominations. The author of the article makes it seem like there is a stronger relationship between the two. Those who vote for the Oscars are those in the industry themselves and they vote for who they believe to be the best of that year. Hollywood is a very vocal community in demanding equality for everyone, so it would be odd to think that they would purposely snub women. The second concept presented in this article is of confirmation bias. A confirmation bias is when a person seeks out information to further prove or confirm what they already believe (Myers, 2015). This article decided to highlight the negative factors and gloss over the positive ones. Some points the author briefly mentioned was that there were films nominated with strong female characters as the main protagonists, nine female producers were nominated in the Best Picture Category as well as women taking nominations in usually male dominated categories. Those are quite honorable and noticeable achievements but that is not what the article was focusing on. The author brought in facts, which are mentioned in the first paragraph, that further confirm her point.
Although this article may show examples of an illusory correlation and confirmation bias that does not mean that there is not a real issue at hand here. In 2004 two studies were conducted by Dean Keith Simonton that analyzed the gender differences in the film industry. Study 1 analyzed 2,157 films that received Oscar nominations or awards between 1936 and 2000. In study 2, 1,367 films were analyzed that received awards or nominations from seven major professional, journalistic, and critical associations between the years 1968 and 2000. Both studies showed a statistical difference between genders. Both studies uncovered that outstanding acting performances by women are less likely to be associated with outstanding films (Simonton, 2004). Simonton coined this phrase the “Best Actress Paradox.” While Simonton proved there was a statistical difference between the two genders, he also made sure to include the fact that other factors, such as time period, genre, and acting performance, play a role when it comes down to it.
Simonton, D. K. (2004). The ‘Best Actress’ Paradox: Outstanding Feature Films Versus Exceptional Women’s Performances. Sex Roles, 50(11-12), 781-794. doi:10.1023/B:SERS.0000029097.98802.2c
Sperling, N. (2017, January 30). Women still woefully underrepresented in Oscar nominations, study finds. Retrieved February 15, 2017, from http://ew.com/awards/2017/01/30/oscars-2017-women-underrepresented/
Myers, D. G. (2015) Exploring Social Psychology. New York, NY: McGraw Hill Education.