Posts Tagged ‘International Women’s Day’
Friday, March 11th, 2011
On the hundredth anniversary of International Women’s Day, over 100 bookish types packed among the shelves of Readings Carlton in Melbourne to hear a panel of Australian literary women talk about the very timely hot topic of the moment – the oft-suspected, recently proven underrepresentation of women in the world of books and writing.
The session was chaired by Rebecca Starford, editor of Kill Your Darlings. Participants were Sophie Cunningham, novelist, former publisher, commentator and recent editor of Meanjin; Louise Swinn, editorial director of Sleepers Publishing and a writer and reviewer; and Monica Dux, The Age opinion writer, author of The Great Feminist Denial.
The conversation began with a sobering reflection on those statistics recently released by VIDA (a relatively new US organisation for women and the arts), which revealed a stark gender bias in the pages of a wide range of literary institutions, including The New Yorker, The London Review of Books, The New York Times Book Review and Granta.
Rebecca Starford presented the findings of her own mini-survey of the current situation in Australia, based on the records of trade magazine Bookseller & Publisher’s weekly supplement, Media Extra, over the first two months of 2011:
In The Age, 133 books were reviewed: 90 authored by men, 43 (or 33%) by women. Of the reviewers of those books, 72 were men, 61 by women.
In The Australian, 88 books were reviewed: 61 authored by men, 27 (or 30%) by women. Of the reviewers, 55 were men, 33 were women
Things were still skewed, but less so, at Australian Book Review. In 2010, 356 books were reviewed: 210 authored by men, 146 (41%) by women. The numbers of reviewers was fairly even. Interestingly, though, only 27% of the books by men were reviewed by women.
At Australian Literary Review, the stats were more damning. From October 2010 to February 2011, 51 books were reviewed: 41 by men; 10 (less than 20%) by women. Of the reviewers, 36 were men; 15 (29%) were women.
One of the explanations commonly offered for this disparity is that men are more willing to put themselves forward than women. Talking to The Book Show recently, (in a segment that was often cited during the night’s discussion), the literary editors of The Australian, The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald all mentioned that they receive far more pitches from men than women.
Sleepers Publishing’s Louise Swinn reported that she receives more book-length submissions from men, though the submissions for the annual Sleepers Almanac anthologies of short stories are evenly split between men and women. (more…)