Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Another Gender Gap: Book Reviews in 2010

The organization VIDA: Women in Literary Arts was founded in August 2009 "to address the need for female writers of literature to engage in conversations regarding the critical reception of women’s creative writing in our current culture."

The organization has completed a gender analysis of book reviewers and books reviewed for 2010, and has uncovered gender gaps for both - a disproportionate number of book reviewers are male, and a disproportionate number of books reviewed are written by men (see NY Times breakdown above, 60% of book reviewers were male, and 65% of book reviews were of books authored by men).  Here's what VIDA says:

"We know women write. We know women read. It’s time to begin asking why the 2010 numbers don’t reflect those facts with any equity. Many have already begun speculating; more articles and groups are pointing out what our findings suggest: the numbers of articles and reviews simply don’t reflect how many women are actually writing. VIDA is here to help shape that discussion. Please tell us about the trends you’ve witnessed in your part of the writing world. Let us know what you think is going on. We’re ready and anxious to hear from you. We’re ready to invest our efforts and energy into the radical notion that women are writers too."

MP: Another example of perfect statistical gender parity being the goal? Except in those cases where women are over-represented (e.g. college degrees), and the concern about gender imbalances disappears? 


At 2/08/2011 11:20 AM, Blogger Buddy R Pacifico said...

So, women need equity in writing and this disparity needs to remedied.

what is a glaring example of women being overly represented, besides in higher education? Writing on Facebook!

Women make up 54% of users on Facebook. Men represent 42.5% and unknown 3.44%. Women write a lot but at a different kind of media site and it is doubtful men will complain about this.

At 2/08/2011 11:38 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Do women write more than 35% of books that are worthy of review? If you see a book that's the literary equivalent of Cosmopolitan, it's almost certain to have been written by a woman. It may be "literature", but it's not review worthy.

At 2/08/2011 12:38 PM, Blogger MattW said...

I think that because women have many decades of caring about gender inequity they will keep caring past the point where it is useful. There's a lot of momentum behind the whole movement. Men on the other hand don't care much because the inequality isn't that large. Again, it's a lot of inertia to overcome, and it'll take bigger imbalances to do so.

At 2/08/2011 2:18 PM, Blogger juandos said...

What do these whining women want?

Some sort of Title IX program for mediocre female writers?

At 2/08/2011 7:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I look through the new fiction section of my public library every time I visit. Books by female authors have comprised the majority of new fiction for years.

The fact that most newspaper book reviewers are men is a holdover of the newspaper sexism of decades past. But, what does that matter? I cannot remember the last time I read a printed book review.

In the USA, women read almost twice as many books as men. Women read more books of all types except history and biography. It is not surprising that women dominate among fiction authors and are gaining on men in most categories of nonfiction. There is no reason for women to gripe about gender inequality in writing, a field that they will totally dominate within ten years or so.


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