Why is the acting category of the Academy Awards sex-segregated (Best Actor in a Lead/Supporting Role, Best Actress in a Leading/Supporting Role)? We don’t have separate awards for male and female directors. Or screenwriters, cinematographers, costume designers, film editors, soundtrack composers, or make up persons.
Is one’s sex really relevant to one’s acting ability? In a way that justifies separate awards?
Of course not.
My guess is that it’s because the award isn’t really for the actor/actress, but for the character portrayed. Probably partly because most people can’t distinguish the two. I’ll bet George Clooney still gets asked what to do by moms whose kid has a fever.
Even so, why do we have separate categories?
Because if we didn’t, women would never win. Not because they’re worse actors (remember the award isn’t for acting ability), but because we honor the heroes. And women never get to play hero.