A woman has NEVER been nominated for the best cinematography Oscar. While that sucks one of the reasons is that there are so few female cinematographers at the top. The percentage is actually worse than female directors.
According to Martha Lauzen's Celluloid Ceiling study, women make up only 2% of cinematographers on the top 250 grossing films (2007.)
But it looks like this year we might break the jinx at least for a nomination. Both Maryse Alberti for The Wrestler and Mandy Walker for Australia are getting noticed for their work.
From a recent LA Times piece:
Alberti and Walker agree that gender has not affected their success, and, while women are rare in their field, their work has been judged on merit. Walker says that while "absolutely there would be something special" about being the first woman to win an Oscar for cinematography, she doesn't dwell on being in a male-dominated profession. "I actually never think about it until someone asks me the question," she says. "I just feel that I'm employed because I'm good at my job. I never took it on as a gender issue."A female cinematographer may vie for Oscar (LA Times)
While Alberti concurs, she admits at the beginning of her career there was sometimes the question of, "Can the little lady handle the big lights?" But she quickly formed a pragmatic comeback that proves success as a DP is more about brains than brawn. "I had to say, 'The little lady doesn't carry the big lights,' " she recalls with a laugh. "She points and the big guys carry the lights."