Women Making History at The Oscars

Every time a woman wins an Academy Award, opens a new window, the most coveted awards for cinema, it becomes a historic moment. On March 10th, the entire world will have their eyes on the Oscars. Two days before that, International Women’s Day will be celebrated globally on March 8th. This March, as we celebrate Women’s History Month, let’s look at women’s history through the lens of the Academy Awards.

A Star Is Born

Last year, we witnessed the memorable win of Michelle Yeoh, who was the first Asian to win a lead actress award for Everything Everywhere All at Once. The very first winner of Best Actress in a Lead Role went to Janet Gaynor in 1928. She was nominated for three movies and declared a winner for her portrayal in all three. Although those films are hard to come by these days, you can watch Janet Gaynor in the 1937 movie A Star Is Born. The film would later be adapted three more times, with the role she originated played by the biggest stars of the millennia— Garland, Streisand, and Gaga.

Without Lying Down

Women have been nominated for writing since the birth of the Academy Awards. The first wins went to Frances Marion in both Best Original Screenplay (The Big House, 1929) and Best Story (The Champ, 193). 

You'll Never Eat Lunch in This Town Again

The first female winner of Best Picture at the Academy Awards was also the first to be nominated as a producer—Julia Phillips for The Sting. She would get her second nomination for The Taxi Driver three years after her first win. This second nomination for Phillips also marked the second time a woman was nominated for Best Picture. 

The Hurt Locker

Lina Wertmüller was the first to receive a nomination for Best Direction, but Kathryn Bigelow was the first to win the most prestigious Academy Award. Not only did The Hurt Locker claim a swarm of Academy Awards that year, but it also earned Bigelow a Director’s trophy from almost every other cinema award that season.


In 2020, Chloe Zhao took the same trophy for Nomadland, the first and only woman of color to win for directing so far. 

Many women have won technical awards for achievements like costumes and musical scores, but to this day, no woman has won for Best Cinematography. While no women were nominated in that category this year, we’re looking forward to the possibilities in years to come.

We're counting down the days until the Oscars to see what women make history this year!