Yes, it's wonderful that Kathryn Bigelow is the first woman to win an Oscar for Best Director. But. She worked with a male writer, an all male group of producers and a virtually all male cast. I haven't seen The Hurt Locker, I confess. Maybe the person listed seventh and last on the advertisement cast list, Evangeline Lilly, has a great part - even better than the first 6 put together - but I doubt it. The roles of the only other female names on the expanded cast list on IMDB are Mortuary Affairs Officer, Nabil's Wife and Soldier (uncredited). Those don't sound like opportunities for memorable performances, but I could be wrong.
Women are serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. Are they totally unimportant and marginalized? Does the army prohibit women from being in special forces units that deal with IEDs? Nope: or anyway, not according to this February 2010 report about Christine Ferguson Hein, a woman in an IED unit who received an award for bravery http://sullivanjournal.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=855&Itemid=38. Hein explains that the army has to include at least one woman in each unit because Muslim women can't be searched or talked to by men. If women do serve in IED units, what made Mark Boal leave them out? Maybe it was the same thinking that affected the National Geographic in a possibly apocryphal story I once heard: The magazine doctored a photograph of a group of kids who'd climbed to the top of a mountain in order to remove the girl. The reason: if they showed that a girl could do it, then boys wouldn't think it was a great achievement.
So, yes it's nice that a woman finally won an Oscar for directing. But the movie she directed is hardly a testament to the openness of the industry to female participation.
[last rev 9/12/11 - rjm]