The Academy has doubled the number of non-white members well ahead of schedule, and its goal of doubling female members is now within reach
With its fourth consecutive year of sending invitations to several hundred prospective members, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is on track to meet or surpass the diversity goals it set for itself three years ago at the height of the #OscarsSoWhite movement.
It has already met its goal of doubling the number of non-white members by 2020, and it is now within striking distance of doubling the number of female members.
Both of those goals were announced in early 2016, when the second straight year of all-white acting nominations led to an outcry and caused the Academy to take steps to diversify its membership. It also announced specific goals to change the makeup of an organization that had long been predominantly white and male.
At that point in early 2016, the Academy’s own figures showed that the organization, which at that point consisted of 6,436 active members, was 92 percent white and 75 percent male. To meet its goal of doubling minority and female members, then, it needed to add about 515 non-white members and a little more than 1,600 female members.
That spring, after an outreach program to identify prospective new members, it invited 683 people to join, more than double the size of any previous group during the years in which AMPAS had announced its invitations. The following year it broke that record with 774 invitations, and in 2018 it once again set a new record with 928 invitations.
The first of those years saw invitations going to 280 non-white film professionals, followed by 232 in 2017, 353 in 2018 and 244 this year. While not every invited member opts to join the Academy, the 1,109 invitations are enough to have easily hit the goal of doubling the number of non-white members – and, in fact, are close to quadrupling the number of non-white members between 2016 and 2019.
The goal of doubling the number of women was tougher — and in fact, for the first two years the Academy lagged behind the pace that would have been necessary to hit the goal, sending invitations to 515 in 2016 and 302 in 2017. But last year’s mammoth outreach was 49 percent female, potentially adding 455 women to the Academy and bringing the goal within reach as long as they added about 300 women for each of the next two years.
This year’s group of 842 invited members was 50 percent female for the first time ever, with the 421 invitations to women raising the number of invited women to 1,493. That places it within 200 of reaching the goal of doubling the number of female Academy members with next year’s invitations.
While the record numbers of new invitations have substantially raised the number of women and people of color within the Academy, the percentage of female and non-white members have grown more slowly. Nonwhite membership has grown from eight percent in 2015 to 11 percent in 2016, 13 percent in 2017 and 16 percent in 2018 and 2019, while female membership has increased from 25 percent in 2015 to 27 percent in 2016, 28 percent in 2017, 31 percent in 2018 and 32 percent this year.