Natalie Portman wore a cape to this year's Oscar's red carpet, with names of female directors who could and should have been nominated at the ceremony but were not, embroidered on the hem. Rose McGowan was deeply offended by this gesture being described as brave and so began an online spat which became news, while the fact that there is an alarming gender parity in the glamorous world of Hollywood, disappeared from the news cycle.
The lack of diversity at the Oscar awards is not news. In 2015, we had the first #oscarso white, which was repeated the next year, actually leading to an overhaul of the Academy members. This may have had something to do with "Moonlight" actually winning Best Picture over La La Land, but then came 2020 and the list of nominations was bleakly white and very male.
Even for people who claim to care not at all about the Oscars, the lack of diversity in the movies that get awarded the top prizes year after year, should be alarming, as it reflects the same lack of diversity in most other workplaces around the world.
Kathryn Bigelow remains the only woman to have won a Best Director prize for her movie Hurt Locker in 2010. Since the Oscar awards started in 1929, there have been a grand total of five women nominated for the category.
Six male African Americans have been nominated in this category with no wins. African American men have done better in the Best Picture category, with 12 nominations and 1 win (Steve Mcqueen for 12 Years a Slave).
Even though women (white and/or of color) still don't make as many movies or perhaps, as many big movies, as men do, there are many that should absolutely have been considered for this year's Oscar prizes: Lulu Wang's The Farewell, Mati Diop's Atlantics and Greta Gerwig's Little Women are just a few among them. Why these movies don't get recognized by the Academy could easily be explained by the ratio of white men to women and/or people of color. 89% of the members are white and 73% are male. Most of the members possibly simply didn't watch Little Women or couldn't relate to Atlantics.
At the Golden Globes in 2018, it was Natalie Portman who said: "… and here are the all-male nominees." She was calling out the gender parity in the movie industry then and she was calling it out now at the Oscars with a subdued gesture of wearing overlooked names on her dress. For as long as the inequality continues, such gestures remain necessary and every gesture counts.