The Most Iconic Oscar Firsts for Women Throughout History

Diversity in the Oscars has been the subject of a wide conversation (and controversy). From celebrities planning to boycott the ceremony, to social media users jumping in on the conversation with the now viral hashtag, #OscarsSoWhite, to recent studies proving that the diversity problem in the Oscars is actually a crisis of inclusion throughout Hollywood, it's clear that this discussion is far from over.

As we prepare for the 88th Academy Awards on Sunday, we are reliving these iconic firsts of trailblazing women who broke through the largely white and male dominated Academy. Their achievements are truly inspiring and showcase the possibilities for women in Hollywood.

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Gallery

Kathryn Bigelow | Bigelow made history during the 82nd Academy Awards in 2010. She became the first woman to receive an Oscar as best director for her work in "The Hurt Locker." "It's the moment of a lifetime," she said in the beginning of her acceptance speech. She later dedicated her award to the women and men in the American military. "May they come home safe," she concluded. Her film also won that night as the Oscar's best motion picture. Photo Credit: AP/Matt Sayles

Halle Berry | After more than seven decades, Berry became the first African-American woman to win an Oscar as best actress for her role as Leticia in "Monster’s Ball." In a moving acceptance speech in 2002 she said, "This moment is so much bigger than me." She dedicated her award to powerful women including Diahann Carroll, Jada Pinkett Smith, and Vivica A. Fox and "for every nameless, faceless woman of color that now has a chance because this door tonight has been opened." Photo Credit: Getty Images

Hattie McDaniel | McDaniel became the first African-American to win an Oscar during the 12th Academy Awards in 1940. She won as best supporting actress for her role as "Mammy," the head slave in the film "Gone With The Wind." McDaniel accepted her Oscar in a 'no-blacks' hotel and was seated away from her fellow cast-members because of her race. "It was as if I had done something wrong," she said in 1944 about her Oscar win. Photo Credit: AP 

Rita Moreno | Moreno became the first Latina to win an Academy Award for best supporting actress during the 34th Academy Awards in 1962 for her show-stopping performance as Anita in the film version of the musical "West Side Story." She delivered a memorable acceptance speech: "I can’t believe it!" she said adding, "Good lord! I leave you with that." In this photo she is seen making a phone call after her big Oscar win. Photo Credit: Archive Photos/Getty Images

Julia Phillips | Phillips became the first Oscar-winning woman producer during the 46th Academy Awards in 1974 for her work in the film, "The Sting." She shared the award with her husband Michael Phillips and another co-producer Tony Bill. "You can imagine what a trip this is for a Jewish girl from Great Neck, tonight I get to win an Academy Award and meet Elizabeth Taylor all in the same moment." Photo Credit: Oscars/YouTube

Lina Wertmüller | Italian director Lina Wertmüller was the first woman to receive an Oscar nomination for best director for her 1977 film "Seven Beauties." Her life will be subject of the documentary, 'Behind the White Glasses.' She helped pave the way for other women nominated as best directors, including Jane Campion, Sofia Coppola, and Kathryn Bigelow. Photo Credit: Rabau/ullstein Picture/Getty Images