Friday, February 11, 2011

Update: Women in Publishing

I have written before about the fact that significantly less female than male authors have their work reviewed in major publications.Well, some number crunching has been done since I last posted about this topic and it seems like the disparity does not originate with the reviewers, but with the publishers.

...These numbers we found show that the magazines are reviewing female authors in something close to the proportion of books by women published each year. The question now becomes why more books by women are not getting published.

It is unclear why less women are getting published but it seems to have something to do with a possible bias in literary journals.

Of the new writing published in Tin House, Granta,and The Paris Review, around one-third of it was by women. For many fiction writers and poets, publishing in these journals is a first step to getting a book contract. Do women submit work to these magazines at a lower rate than men, or are men’s submissions more likely to get accepted? We can’t be sure. But, as Robin Romm writes in Double X, “The gatekeepers of literary culture—at least at magazines—are still primarily male.” If these gatekeepers are showing a gender bias, there’s not much room to make it up later.

While it is unfortunate to hear that female authors are not properly represented, I am happy to hear that people are trying to get to the bottom of the disparity.

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