All the voters who didn't even watch Hustlers because "it's not an Oscar movie," can't really say that about Little Women. It's not "too small" or from a filmmaker they've never heard of, or too quirky or not in English, but a literary classic that's been adapted and nominated before. That can be a drawback, too, because voters may like previous versions better and wonder why this latest one even exists. The narrative technique Gerwig employs for it has been used by other Best Picture nominees in the past, and those other movies got "I didn't understand what was happening," complaints in those anonymous ballot stories. Directors should make the movies they want, but if the goal is to play to a group whose members are not always known for grasping complex storytelling... Somewhere, Christopher Nolan is probably looking at all the hardware Sam Mendes and 1917 are collecting and is thinking, "Really?!" But calibrating a movie too much to appeal to awards bodies can backfire, and land you in the "This Had Oscar Buzz" pile.
The demographic makeup of the Academy is often discussed, but the people who professionally write/blog/podcast about the awards all year are not necessarily any more diverse, and they have a hand in shaping the Oscar conversation. Maybe there are more women in the space, but it's very white overall. And these writers are a bit more openminded than Oscar voters in general, but anyone can have unconscious biases.
Sometimes they can be caught up in statistics and trying to be right in their predictions, and dismiss contenders that don't seem Oscary enough, even if they like them. The media/critics championing a contender sometimes pushes a movie over the top, but if it seems hopeless, they'll give up. Gerwig wasn't the only woman who directed an acclaimed movie last year, but the one with the best chances for a Directing nomination by far, and maybe the one a lot of awards media identified with the most, so she got more attention from them than the others.
Unfortunately, I think whatever chances Lulu Wang and The Farewell had at Oscar nominations weren't helped by the rise of Parasite as a major contender. Of course, they are very different stories, but as it's been pointed out, Oscar's history with Asian/Asian-American movies and especially performers is not great. Should they be able to appreciate two movies with Asian casts, primarily not in English? Yes, but that it didn't happen is sadly predictable. The Farewell not being eligible for the International Film category at the Oscars also placed it at a disadvantage. The more categories where a movie is a contender, the more inclined people might be to watch it.