Thursday, March 22, 2012

Not Surprised

I was reading an interesting article in the Huffington Post and, when I finished it, my first thought was, Hmm, I’m not surprised.

The article was about whether there is gender discrimination among book publishers. Here are a couple of snippets from the article:
The results clearly showed that venerable publications such as The Paris Review, Harper's Magazine, The New York Times Book Review and The Atlantic cover significantly more works by male authors.

One of the greatest offenders, The New Republic, reviewed over four times as many books by men than those by women. Similar results were reported for The London Review of Books.
The article looks at all 2011 books published by four of the major imprints: Knopf; Crown; Little, Brown; and Farrar, Strauss and Giroux. You can follow the link to see the pie charts included in the article, but here are the overall results from 2011:
Knopf: 96 Male – 58 Female
Farrar, Straus and Giroux: 106 Male – 23 Female
Crown: 37 Male – 37 Female
Little, Brown: 52 Male, 17 Female

Then they looked at publications coverage of books, in articles and reviews. There’s quite a few of those. Here’s a few:
Atlantic: 235 Male, 91 Female
Granta: 30 Male, 34 Female
Harpers: 141 Male, 42 Female
New Republic: 344 Male, 78 Female
Poetry: 179 Male, 134 Female

As you can see, women got more notice in Granta and ran close in Poetry, but except for Granta, the men dominated.

What do you think of these results? Does it show gender bias in general? Or are these results skewed because these publications focus on books written by men? Or is this to be expected since overall these four publishers publish more male authors than they do female? There are a lot of other publishers not analyzed in this article. If they had been, would it have made a significant difference in the statistics? What do you think about these results?


  1. I see one major publisher not listed: Harlequin Books.

    The figures you listed are interesting, but I find it strange that this publisher of woman writers is so absent in the calculations.

  2. ...alarming statistics. I had no idea the numbers were so heavily tilted. And I offer my thoughts as I finish up an entertaining crime mystery that was written by a woman ;)



  3. I agree with you there Miss Footloose. They did not look at publishers like Harlequin. I'm guessing they didn't because the publications they were focused on do not review Harlequin books.

  4. Sadly, why not? Just about everything else is biased in favor of men. I never thought about it in terms of reviews...more of genres, like the women who write sci/fi under male pen names.

    We've come far but still not far enough. I was just thinking the other day about the fact that in the '70s a married woman couldn't get her own independent credit card.

  5. Considering most of the authors I know online are women, that seems really odd. And unfair.

  6. This is very interesting. I think I read more female authors so I'm surprised and dismayed to see they're in the minority.

  7. I find this very sad, indeed. As someone who couldn't get an independent credit card in the 70s for the very reason Laura mentioned, it makes me wonder whether things have changed as much as I thought they had.

  8. Since the only way I'll ever get reviewed is to buy one, it's hard to get too excited about this issue ... but if gender discrimination really is a factor, then shame on these publishers.

  9. Got a question --
    Which gender pushes harder to get books out? I mean, do men write more books per year, every 2 years, whatever, than women do?

  10. I can't say I'm surprised. Readers too tend to look for male writers for certain genres and J.A. Jance said in an interview that as a new author she was asked to use initials instead of her name so that it didn't discourage readers from buying her book. J.K. Rowling was asked to do the same thing.

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