Saturday, May 28, 2011

A shocking UK sf 'favourites' score: men 500, women 18

Yesterday, in the Guardian , Damien G. Walter asked readers to list their favourite sf. And they did. In a follow-up blog piece, Walter estimates that more than 500 books were mentioned. I scanned the Guardian comments--yes, all of them--and counted only 18 women's names. Eighteen. Out of more than five hundred.

I admit, I could have missed one or two. For the sake of argument, let's say there were exactly 500 novels mentioned. Let's say 20 of them were by women. (Yes, some respondents mentioned titles, some author names. Apples and oranges. Sue me. Or, better, take the time to parse the comments yourself and then share.)

The ratio of women to men is 1:24. About 4%. I'm quite aware of gender bias in literature (see, for example "Hard Takes Soft" and "Girl Cooties") but this ratio, frankly, shocked me.

In a subsequent Twitter conversation, Walter ventured that this ratio reflects a reader bias towards naming Classic SF, that he believes a similar US-centric poll would reflect the same boy-bias. I disagree. That is, I don't think the bias would be as strong. I think the US is closer (though still not very close) to gender parity than the UK. But I'm guessing; I don't have numbers.

In the Twitter discussion, others (Cara Murphy, Kevin McVeigh, Karen Newton) suggested that women didn't write much sf in the classic days. Also that the recent British Library sf show included few women. That in a BBC Culture piece about that show, no women at all were mentioned. Bias in action.

Or, as Joanna Russ might have put it:

"She didn't write it."
"She wrote it but she wrote only one of it."
"She wrote it, but she isn't really an artist (sf writer), and it isn't really art (sf)."
"She wrote it, but she's an anomaly."

These are just a few of the classic arguments, so beautifully exposed by Russ, used by critics to suppress women's writing. (If you haven't read How to Suppress Women's Writing, your education awaits.)

Clearly, women's sf is being suppressed in the UK. Oh, not intentionally. But that's how bias works: it's unconscious. And of course sometimes it's beyond a reader's power to change: you can't buy a book that's not on the shelf. You can't shelve something the publisher hasn't printed. You can't publish something an agent doesn't send you. You can't represent something a writer doesn't submit. Etc.

But, whether this bias is active or passive, it's time to attack it on several fronts:

  • reexamine and rewrite Best Of lists to take into account women who have been relegated to also-rans (this will involve public discussion and reevaluation)
  • rexamine and republish Classics to include those women who, through the process Russ delineates, have slipped down the rankings (ditto)
  • revive the old-style Women's Press list of sf, historic and contemporary, by women writers
  • acknowledge, in media pieces, likely inherent bias
  • writers, stop self-censoring
  • agents, stop narrowing the funnel
  • editors, consider balancing your list
  • booksellers, pay attention to your readers and categories
  • readers, give books and writers a chance
  • etc.

And always, always name the behaviour around you: we can't change behaviour until it's named.

Once this bias against women in sf was named in the Twitter conversation we were able to move on to the beginnings of what I hope will become a fruitful discussion of how to mitigate said bias. I want to continue that positive discussion here. To begin with, we need numbers: ratios of women/men being published as sf in UK, US, Canada, India, New Zealand, Australia, and other English-speaking territories. Ratios of historical publication of same. Reviews of same. Of book format. Of cover design. Of sales. Of awards. And so on. Anyone got any of that to hand? Anyone got a platform through which they can put out a call for same?

FYI the women writers mentioned by Guardian readers were:

  • Ursula K. le Guin
  • Joanna Russ
  • Julian May
  • Gwyneth Jones
  • Doris Lessing
  • Virginia Woolf
  • Anna Kavan
  • Marge Piercy
  • C.J. Cherryh
  • Mary Gentle
  • Anne McCaffrey
  • Mary Russell
  • Lois McMaster Bujold
  • James Tiptree Jr.
  • Karen Joy Fowler
  • Zenna Henderson
  • Margaret Atwood
  • Diana Wynne Jones

I've read them all. Every. Single. One. (I was delighted to see Anna Kavan. Her Ice completely turned my head.) Some I like, some not so much. But none of the names are new to me. Which, I think, speaks volumes.

ETA: Follow-up post, "Taking the Russ Pledge"

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61 comments:

  1. Do you have a good sense of the gender of SF readers?

    This question is motivated by conversations with parents about the cartoons or animated films their young children watch. Several report that their boy children won't watch anything with a girl major character, while girls will watch boy major characters.

    Is this bias is reflected in later reading? And then in choices of 'best'?

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  2. I'm not terribly shocked (if by shocked one means surprised) by the results--especially in the UK (Farah Mendlesohn has been posting for some time about the gender bias in sf in all areas).

    I would be surprised if the US were in any way close to gender parity (although it might depend on how one defines "sf" -- that big hairy nasty question--for example, do all the paranormal romances which tend to be shelved in "romance" sections in bookstores but which feature fantastic characters--which some would relegate to fantasy not sf!). That is, are we talking SCIENCE fiction or SPECULATIVE fiction/fantastic literatures? Those definitions have been used against women as your post references for some time (and brilliantly fit Russ' brilliantly expressed observations).

    And to Ladyjanegray: there has never been any authoritative demographic study of science fiction readers and or fans by any definition of the word (there were sf magazine polls back in the day in the US, but those assumed the only 'readers' were the men who subscribed to the mags and ignored the women in the house--like me, reading my father's sf mags from the age of seven or so).

    Read Helen Merrick's THE SECRET FEMINIST CABAL and Justine Larbalestier's THE BATTLE OF THE SEXES for all the ways in which women readers and writers and editors and reviewers were ignored/suppressed by the men in sf. (Then you can check Eric Davin's work which traces all the women publishing in the pulp and classic era, often under male or gender neutral pseuds, and unfortunately trying to argue that proved sexism did not exist in sf).

    I'm not saying I'm not all for this effort--but it's not as if this problem or attempts to address it are new--they've been going on for decades! And I think change has occurred, so it's worth pursuing.

    My connections are more in the academic world of sff criticism, and on LJ/DW in the parts of fandom that are women and/or feminist dominated.

    Robin Anne Reid
    (the blog won't verify my livejournal open ID credentials)

    robin_anne_reid.livejournal.com
    robin_anne_reid.dreamwidth.org

    ReplyDelete
  3. Some links from Robin Anne reid

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2011/feb/04/research-male-writers-dominate-books-world

    This article and the stats are not specific to sff.

    It may or may not be useful to remember that the NYT has a separate section for reviewing sff (and other genre fiction), and also started a separate best sellers list when Rowling's work dominated it (children's best selling as compared to "adult" literature?), there are genre biasses build into the reviewing system.

    http://www.kith.org/journals/jed/2006/08/12/3627.html

    Jed Hartman
    Still more on gender bias in sf
    (Strange Horizons)

    He credits Sue Linville's 2002 article on gender bias in sf!


    Sue Linville Strange Horizons
    http://www.strangehorizons.com/2007/20070820/0women-publish-a.shtml

    SF and Fantasy in the New Millennium: Women Publishing Short Fiction
    By Susan U. Linville

    20 August 2007

    Here's an intriguing site I found that I'll have to spend some more time exploring:

    Gender Bias Learning Project
    http://www.genderbiasbingo.com/gender_bias_bibliography.html

    It's for academia--but I wonder if some could be applied to this effort!

    http://www.genderbiasbingo.com/genderbias.html

    Let's not forget the work done by feminists all along:

    Laura Quilter's Feminist SF

    http://wiki.feministsf.net/index.php?title=Laura_Quilter


    Broad Universe

    http://www.broaduniverse.org/

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  4. ladyjanegray, pretty much what Robin said. Lots of women read sf; we just don't know how many.

    Robin, thank you so much for taking the time to post here. (Did you leave another comment? It hasn't appeared here, though I saw it in email and would be happy to post it on your behalf if you'd like.)

    I wasn't shocked by the bias but by the size of it. 4%. Ooof.

    But right now I have someone asking me how he can use his platform to help improve the place of women in sf and I want to get as many numbers, recent numbers, as I can to support his (and others') efforts.

    I'm be surprised, too, if the US were close to gender parity in this regard, but I have a strong suspicion we're closer than the UK. (Not saying much, obviously.)

    I'm also looking for suggestions for those with a media platform or buying power as to how they can mitigate this bias.

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  5. Hi Nicola--I sometimes tell people I got my Ph.D. so I could take over the world for sff, so am always happy to get involved in these projects.

    I did post another post--it had lots of links which might have been a problem - so if you could repost, that would be fantastic!

    I've been told by a friend who is a reviewer for Romance Times (which has moved beyond traditional romance genre) that they do a lot of reviews of sff--here's the link:

    http://www.rtbookreviews.com/genre/science-fiction

    And she is the sf person, so has data if you'd like it (this discussion is taking place on my locked down fan journal--I'm fairly out, but don't link my offline name and fan pseud in public if I can avoid it).

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  6. *points up* that's me--forgot to sign my name.

    Robin

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  7. Excellent post which makes some very valid points. I really must read Joanna Russ's 'How to Suppress Women's Writing'though I suspect it might make me very angry.
    It is interesting that there is little research on how many women read SF - we seem to be invisible as readers as well as writers of SF. I suspect online purchasing has helped to increase the numbers (we can buy invisibly too!).
    I wonder how the numbers differ when Fantasy is included as there are significantly more women authors here. Does this indicate tha,t within the genre publishing world, writing fantasy is a more acceptable way for women to make their voice heard?

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  8. Some links from Robin Anne reid

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2011/feb/04/research-male-writers-dominate-books-world

    This article and the stats are not specific to sff.

    It may or may not be useful to remember that the NYT has a separate section for reviewing sff (and other genre fiction), and also started a separate best sellers list when Rowling's work dominated it (children's best selling as compared to "adult" literature?), there are genre biasses build into the reviewing system.

    Jed Hartman
    Still more on gender bias in sf
    (Strange Horizons)

    He credits Sue Linville's 2002 article on gender bias in sf!

    Sue Linville Strange Horizons


    SF and Fantasy in the New Millennium: Women Publishing Short Fiction, By Susan U. Linville, 20 August 2007

    Here's an intriguing site I found that I'll have to spend some more time exploring:

    Gender Bias Learning Project

    It's for academia--but I wonder if some could be applied to this effort!

    http://www.genderbiasbingo.com/genderbias.html

    Let's not forget the work done by feminists all along:

    Laura Quilter's Feminist SF

    Broad Universe

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  9. Robin, thanks again.

    Cara, I really do recommend How to Suppress Women's Writing. It's not like reading something like Backlash because Russ is witty. In some ways it's a delightful read.

    Re: fantasy. Oh, yep. Read Russ. Read my own "Hard Takes Soft".

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  10. Good post Nicola, but a couple of minor corrections:
    The British Library show does include women, Lauren Beukes for one, but the BBC coverage ignored them. I don't know how good or bad the BL gender mix is, any criticism is of the BBC.
    Also the myth propagated by Damien G Walter that women didnt write Classic era SF is something I have been trying to avoid in my own writings, hence the 150 women SF Writers list. http://bit.ly/m2vJjE
    Kev McVeigh

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  11. Kev, I'll go look at your list. Maybe there'll be someone new to me!

    BTW, I didn't say the BL didn't include women. I didn't say Walter was propagating that myth. Just to be clear.

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  12. Good to see Zenna Henderson there - a lot of lists I see miss her out. Since the Guardian article claimed that SF could include any kind of spec fic I need to ask...No Vonda MacIntyre?? No Jessica Amanda Salmondson?? No C L Moore?? No Octavia Butler?? No Suzy McKee Charnas. No Marion Zimmer Brady?? No Elizabeth Moon?? No Elizabeth A Lynn?? No Andre Norton?? No Mercedes Lackey??

    That's just a few of the authors spotted in a quick glance at my shelves.

    Not to mention Kate Wilhelm, Kit Reed, Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, Joan D Vinge, Carol Emshwiller, etc.

    What *do* these people read??

    Ze (Jac H)

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  13. And oh I do wish I could spell why I'm ranting!! MZB - Bradley not Brady

    Ze

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  14. when damnit - WHEN!!!!!

    Ze

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  15. Ze, I hear you. Take a look at Kev's list, see if you can add to the 150 women f/sf writers there.

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  16. Sorry I misread you.

    The BBC has a poor record lately. One of Russ' examples from How to Suppress Women's Writing is that "it was all she wrote" a technique used by Radio 4 when they adapted Mary Shelley's Mathilda
    http://bit.ly/hwLAk0
    Kev

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  17. Kev, no problem. Interesting post on Shelley. I haven't read Valperga...

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  18. Added a comment with one sci-fi writer and a couple that might not count because they're more fantasy. I tend to read more fantasy than hard sci-fi

    Ze

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  19. Ian Sales started a discussion of possible SF "Mistressworks" a few months back that got a lot of feedback: http://iansales.com/2011/03/17/the-sf-mistressworks-meme/.

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  20. Erudite Ogre, thanks John, for linking to Ian's work. I borrowed from him with his permission as the basis of my list.
    Kev

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  21. This was addressed, though pretty fleetingly, on Radio 4's Woman's Hour this week - http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b011c220. Farah Mendlesohn weighs in. They touch on the UK/US issue. The programme also led me to this '50 must read' SF books from Forbidden Planet which has a grand total of four women authors on it:

    http://forbiddenplanet.com/picks/50-sf-books-you-must-read/

    The list looks kinda like they just took the 'SF Masterworks' series and threw in some extra award-winners on top...

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  22. Tori, hey, the Forbidden Planet list is at least 8%, woo hoo [irony alert].

    I just listened to the BBC thing. Gwyneth is so right. Her career would have been utterly different if she'd been, say, Gareth.

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  23. John-Henri HolmbergMay 28, 2011 at 5:08 PM

    Editors can do much, but as usual it's a question of who the editor happens to be and what her or his priorities are. Very early in my dubious career, around 1975 when I was 25, when I had held exactly one editorial position, I was asked by a man who had recently acquired a medium-sized publishing house to contract and edit his list. I agreed, jubilant, but then he sent me a proof to check of the only book he himself had bought so far, Marabel Morgan's "The Total Woman", and my heart stuck in my toes. So I spent a week wrestling with my conscience and went back to the publisher and told him that he would have to choose between publishing that book and employing me. That time I was lucky; a day or two after, I received in the mail the print original for the book. It was never published in Sweden, and I worked around five years for him, publishing instead the first Swedish editions of several books by Ursula Le Guin, Shirley Jackson, Kate Wilhelm, Mary Renault – and, certainly, a few men as well, including as far as I know the first serious novel about a lesbian protagonist written by a major Swedish male author.
    But the problem, and presumably point, is that you do sometimes have to take risks, where losing can cost you something. I'm proud that I took the risk that time. But would I have done the same fifteen years later, with small children depending on me and considerably fewer options still open than at 25? I hope so. But it would have kept me awake more nights, at least.
    When it comes to sf, it seems to me that very little has changed in the last 40 years. For a short time during the mid and late 1970s, feminism and gender discussion was what was happening in sf. Then came the (almost all male) cyberpunks, nostalgically revisiting the 1960s revolt but winning this time, and all that was forgotten; I've actually seen (though I can't quote the at this moment) overviews of sf claiming that the 1970s was a "lost" decade when sf had no direction and nothing new of interest was happening.

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  24. I wonder how many awards the wonderful Connie Willis needs to win before she starts being listed.

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  25. John-Henri HolmbergMay 29, 2011 at 4:29 AM

    Awards will never be enough. You can give someone both awards and praise and still make certain that they are overlooked. One of Sweden's foremost modern poets was Elsa Grave (1918–2003). She began publishing in 1943; her last, 30th collection was published in 1989. She was extensively reviewed, and whenever a new volume of her poetry was published, virtually all critics would say that she was, "one of our finest poets", or "one of the few major modernist poets in Sweden", or, sometimes, even "perhaps our finest living poet". But apart from the lavish praise heaped on her in reviews, she was seldom mentioned in round-up essays on modern Swedish literature, seldom included in discussions about the directions of Swedish poetry, almost never interviewed, almost never listed among those ten of various things you have to read or learn about. She was duly praised when necessary and otherwise mostly ignored. I wonder how many even rememberd her name when she died, 14 years after her last rave reviews. (Of course they all suddenly surprised everyone by saying that her death was an immense loss to Swedish poetry and literature.)
    And this, I believe, is a large part of the problem. Virginia Woolf once made the mistake when replying to a writer who stated as a fact that no women could ever create literary art of the highest order, since only men could do that, of talking about Sappho. The given reply, of course, is that yes, okay, well, then almost 3,000 years ago perhaps there actually was one woman of literay genius, but since there have been no further ones, she was obviously a fluke.
    In the list Nicola gives above, what is really interesting, I thought, is that it includes the occasional writers of sf known to all (Woolf, Lessing, Atwood, Piercy) and the perhaps finest women sf writers ever to have worked in the field (Russ, Le Guin, "Tiptree", our Sapphos), but virtually none of the excellent other women sf writers who get great reviews and win awards but who are then "forgotten" about, seldom mentioned in the overviews, the discussions of trends and development in the field, the endless debates on who is our current Heinlein, or Ballard, or Bradbury. Connie Willis, of course, but also Suzy Charnas, Marion Zimmer Bradley, Octavia Butler, Kate Wilhelm, Pat Cadigan, Elizabeth Lynn, Maureen McHugh, Justina Robson, Tricia Sullivan, Catherine Asaro, Elizabeth Hand, Katherine Kerr, Tanith Lee, Vonda McIntyre, Pat Murphy, Kage Baker, Sarah Zettel, Sheri Tepper, Liz Williams, Kit Reed, Carol Emshwiller, Kathleen Ann Goonan, Julie Czerneda, Carolyn Ives Gilman, Melissa Scott, Nancy Kress, Linda Nagata and so many others – present blogger and her partner included. These are the names absent in most of the discussions about sf over the last decades, which are always dominated by names of male authors who are – also – often quite good, but who become more "important" by being assumed to be those who define the themes and directions of the field.

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  26. Georgiana, Willis probably wasn't listed because UK readers respond differently to her work than US readers (sweeping generalisation, yes, but it has to do with her settings--she often gets things wrong that, for example, Londoners might find ridiculous to the degree that it ruins the reading experience).

    John-Henri, yes. This is why it's so important that in every discussion of sf the speaker says--out loud, or in bold type--And of course we must bear in mind all the women who are being neglected. (Or whatever.) It's behaviour that must be consistently named. Call it taking the Russ Pledge :)

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  27. Erudite Ogre, thanks for linking to my sf mistressworks meme. I also produced one of Women's Press titles here and a 21st century sf mistressworks meme list here.

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  28. ian, those are great lists. I've read every single one of the WP titles--makes me feel like Super Reader :) I remember the conversation they sparked, which is of course a Good Thing.

    Lists will most definitely help in terms of reading. I'm also hoping for some discussion here of ways to mitigate bias in terms of publishing, shelving, categorising, reviewing, and so on

    All suggestions welcome.

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  29. I just realised that, although I don't read much SF these days, almost all the SF on my bookshelves is by women - Le Guin, Asaro, Arnason, Scott. For me they are the keepers, not the male-dominated "classics" like Asimov.

    The fantasy is, on the other hand, about half and half, by author if not by title. Terry Pratchett is way too prolific :)

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  30. It's interesting that this doesn't seem to reflect the shift in gender dynamic amongst fans. Note the recent reaction against the ill-considered review that declared no woman would be interested in Game of Thrones (OK, that's fantasy, but it's a shared history and spectrum). Not to mention the highly successful Genre for Japan fundraising drive that was spearheaded by four women and drew attention across the genres of SF, F, and Horror. I was really proud to be a part of that, but completely surprised when it was pointed out to me that my involvement in such a project (along with three other women) was considered note-worthy and unusual.

    For what it's worth, here's me standing up to highlight Megan Lingholm's Alien Earth as one of the most incredible over-looked SF classics. Interesting that her better known alter-ego 'Robin Hobb' was deliberately chosen to obfuscate her gender under an androgynous name.

    Ro Smith

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  31. Margaret Mahy, Margo Lanagan ...

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  32. Anne, I've never thought of counting my books in terms of fe/male authors. A project for a rainy day...

    Ro, I think the web has broken (is continuing to break) barriers. I like to think that in twenty years this kind of conversation will be head-scratchingly irrelevant. But I worry whose books might be lost meanwhile.

    Anon, have you added those names to Kev or Ian's lists?

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  33. I wonder how much of this poll is skewed by the past. Science Fiction literature is Male dominated today, certainly, but it was much worse 25 years ago.

    Many of the male writers mentioned in the Guardian comments are classic Sci Fi writers - the Asimovs, Bradburys, Pohls and Herberts. Many of the Women who made the list are, similarly, older.

    I think most people would name their favourite book as one that they read when they much younger (rose tinted glasses and all) and perhaps the one that pulled them into the genre. If that is true, could this poll not be a fairer reflection of the genre a generation ago than it is today.

    It would be useful if the Guardian ran another poll asking for the last Sci Fi book their readers read. That might give a fairer reflection of the market today.

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  34. The simplest way to suppress women's writing is to squelch any enthusiasm for reading it.

    Unfortunately, one of the easiest ways to squelch someone's enthusiasm for doing something is to tell them they have a moral obligation to do so and are a lousy person if they don't particularly feel like it. Another very easy way is to use the opportunity, when someone *does* reluctantly consent to try, to complain about what horrible people they are thoughout the process. If guilt gets you one reader, resentment will lose you a dozen in return.

    The simplest way to boost enthusiasm for women's writing is to (a) sell us on how good it is as writing (that's the easy part, because much of the best writing I know comes from women), and (b) -- this is the difficult part -- learn your desired audience's tastes, and write TO those tastes rather than trying to guilt them into changing them.

    You can win an audience over, or you can feel self-righteous for publicly denouncing them. You can't do both. Make your choice, ladies.

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  35. What's so shocking? Men created Science Fiction and have been it's main contributors for over a hundred years. Even now the best science fiction writers are men. Women are a tiny tiny minority in science fiction. Get over your gender bias.

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  36. JCH, such a poll would be interesting, I agree.

    Stephen, I'm not a lady. And I take what I want. Guilt-tripping is a waste of time. I don't do it. But I think you have a point: we need to praise women's work, show readers why it's so fabulous. So as soon as I have time I'll start writing mini-reviews of women's sf right here on the blog. Hey, maybe I'll start with my own work :)

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  37. Anon@ 9:10am: O rly? Mary Shelley says Hi. Perhaps you should have a read up about women's contribution to science fiction. There are plenty of excellent essays and textbooks out there. If you bother to look.

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  38. I've probably been reading SF/F since before most of you were born (I'm just shy of 67). My first was a story in a kids' magazine (not a comic) in 1950. Comics came later, but I always preferred books.

    I just looked at the following list:
    http://www.bookrags.com/wiki/Female_science_fiction_authors

    If my aging brain is working I counted 156 names (add a margin of error of no more than 10). To my own shock, there are only 13 authors on that list whom I have NOT read.

    What effing difference does gender make in the quality of writing?

    Oh, I'm a straight (if involuntarily celibate) male. And, finally, my favorite writer, irrespective of genre, is Ursula K. LeGuin.

    In spite of the above, I can't say I'm surprised at the Guardian results.

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  39. Hey, RFYork, many of us are older than we look :) (Though, yeah, okay, not 67.)

    I hear you on all points. I was surprised at my own shock. But I was, in fact, shocked.

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  40. Very late to the discussion (sorry), I've been travelling.

    The BL exhibition is very good. The initial press release was devoid of women, but when this was [ahem] pointed out to them, they corrected it within twenty minutes in time for a later presentation. The book by Mike Ashley is hopeless.


    4% of women on that blogroll matches the 5% of BSFA novel awards which have gone to women. A quick and dirty calculation minutes before I went on to Woman's Hour revealed the BSFA is abolutely the worst of the awards for rewarding women. This may be connected to the dreadful record of the UK sf imprints as that award is confined to books published in the UK, but the Clarke Award is one of the best at 44% awarded to women.

    In my survey of sf readers--self selecting--45% of the respondents were female.

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  41. Farah, welcome--and I suspect this discussion will go on for a long time. It's a marathon, not a sprint. It's all about how long we stay, not when we got here :) Plus, you do so much in this regard.

    I wonder how long the BL exhibition will be up. I'm hoping to be in the UK briefly in autumn. I imagine it'll be gone by then. Sigh.

    BSFA for women = 5%? That's horrible. I wonder how many voting members are women?

    But the Clarke, at 44% for women, is a pleasant surprise. (And isn't it sad that a 12 point difference is a good thing...)

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  42. Robin Anne Reid (still not verifying my LJ ID).

    Re: Lists and such.

    I've hesitated about making this post because it seems self-serving, but deciding that's due to the "omgwimminzcannotselfpromote), I'm going ahead.

    I edited the first encyclopedia dedicated to Women in SF and Fantasy (Greenwood 2008). Yes, it's horribly expensive (but that is true of all reference works and encyclopedias).

    Here are lists of the content that I worked out (remember, this was published in 2008, so I began working on it in um 2004, late, I think, which means in some respects it was out of date by the time it was published--true of all print reference works).

    (Also, Greenwood policy required some men be included who were known for women characters....).

    Not sure what comment length is here, so will post three lists in three separate posts:

    Volume I contains essays with bibliographies of scholarship, on the following topics:

    The Middle Ages
    Nineteenth Century Fiction
    Nineteenth Century Poetry
    Fantasy 1900-1956: Novels and Short Fiction
    Science Fiction 1900-1960-Novels and Short Fiction
    Comics: Golden Age
    Fantasy 1960-2005: Novels and Short Fiction
    Science Fiction 1960-2005: Novels and Short Fiction
    Comics: Post Golden Age
    Genre Poetry: Twentieth Century
    Fantasy Film: Nineteenth and Twentieth Century
    Science Fiction Film: Nineteenth and Twentieth Century
    Anime and Manga: Twentieth Century
    Television: Twentieth Century
    Music: Twentieth Century
    Gaming: Twentieth Century
    Men Writing Women
    Heroes/Sheroes
    Intersections of Race and Gender
    Intersections of Class and Gender
    Intersections of Age and Gender in SF/F
    Speculating Sexual Identities
    Science
    Feminist Spirituality
    The Creation of Literature for the Young
    Girls and the Fantastic (multi-genre, multi-period)
    Fandom
    WisCon
    The James Tiptree, Jr., Award

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  43. Robin Anne Reid

    ALPHABETICAL LIST OF ENTRIES VOLUME II

    Aiken, Joan
    The Alien Series
    Alexander, Lloyd
    Alternate History
    Amazons
    Androgyny
    Animals
    Arnason, Eleanor
    Architecture
    Arthurian Fantasy
    Artificial Life
    Asaro, Catherine
    Asexuality
    Asimov, Isaac
    Atwood, Margaret
    Australia
    Awards: Literature for Young People
    Awards: Science Fiction and Fantasy Literature

    Ballantine, Betty
    Barr, Marleen
    Battlestar Galactica
    Bisexuality
    Brackett, Leigh
    Bradley, Marion Zimmer
    Brin, David
    Britain
    British Science Fiction Cinema
    Brontë Sisters
    Bryher (Ellerman, Annie Winifred)
    Buffy the Vampire Slayer/Angel
    Bujold, Lois McMaster
    Bull, Emma
    Butler, Octavia

    Cadigan, Pat
    Canada (English)
    Canada (SFQ French)
    Carol, Avedon
    Carter, Angela
    Carter, Raphael
    Cavendish, Margaret Duchess of Newcastle
    Chant, Joy
    Charnas, Suzy McKee
    Cherryh, C.J.
    China
    Clayton, Jo
    Clarke, Arthur C.
    Cloning
    Coleridge, Sara
    Colonization
    Comic Science Fiction and Fantasy
    Constantine, Storm
    Cosplay
    Cottington, Lady
    Cyberbodies, Female
    Czerneda, Julie

    Datlow, Ellen
    De Lint, Charles
    De Ford, Miriam Allen
    De France, Marie
    De Pizan, Christine
    Delany, Samuel R.
    Dickinson, Emily
    Dillon, Diane
    Disability
    Duane, Diane
    Due, Tannarive
    Dystopias

    ReplyDelete
  44. Robin ANne Reid
    ALpha LIst of Entries VOl II part 2


    Editors: Fan
    Editors: Professional
    Education
    Elgin, Suzette Haden
    Environmental Science Fiction
    Epic Fantasy
    Erotic Science Fiction/Fantasy
    Fairy Tales and Folklore
    Fan Fiction
    Farmer, Nancy
    Farscape
    Female Friendships
    Feminisms
    Feminist Science Fiction
    femspec
    Filk
    Firefly/Serenity
    Flewelling, Lynn
    Fonstad, Karen Wynn
    Fontana, D.C.
    France
    Friesner, Esther

    Gaiman, Neil
    Game Designers
    Gearhart, Sally Miller
    Gender
    Genetic Engineering
    Gentle, Mary
    Germany
    Ghost Stories
    Gibson, William
    Gilman, Charlotte Perkins
    Gomez, Jewelle
    Gorey, Edward
    Gothic
    Gotlieb, Phyllis
    Graphic Novels
    Griffith, Nicola

    Hamilton, Laurell K.
    Hamilton, Virginia
    Harbou, Thea von
    Heinlein, Robert
    Henderson, Zenna
    Homosexuality
    Hopkinson, Nalo
    Horror
    Hyman, Trina Schart

    Independent Comics
    India
    Internet

    Jackson, Shirley
    Janus/Aurora/New Moon
    Japan
    Jewish Women Writers
    Jones, Diana Wynne
    Jones, Gwyneth
    Khatru
    King, Stephen
    Kornbluth, Cyril
    Kress, Nancy
    Kuttner, Henry

    Laa'dan
    Lackey, Mercedes
    Lalli, Cele Goldsmith
    Languages and Linguistiscs
    Latin and South America
    Lee, Tanith
    LeFanu, Sarah
    LeGuin Ursula K.
    L'Engle, Madeline
    Lesbians
    Lessing, Doris
    Lindgren, Astrid
    Lost Colony Stories
    Lynn, Elizabeth A.

    MacAvoy, R.A.
    MacLean, Katherine
    Magical Realism
    Marxism
    The Matrix
    McCaffrey, Anne
    McCarthy, Shawna
    McHugh, Maureen F.
    McIntyre, Vonda N.
    McKillip, Patricia
    McKinley, Robin
    Merril, Judith
    Miéville, China
    Mirlees, Hope
    Mitchison, Naomi
    Moffett, Judith
    Mohanraj, Mary Ann
    Moon, Elizabeth
    Moore, C.L.
    Morrison, Toni

    Neurodiversity
    New Weird
    Norse Mythology
    Norton, Andre
    Oates, Joyce Carol
    Phelps, Elizabeth Stuart
    Piercy, Marge
    Pratchett, Terry
    Pregnancy/Reproduction
    Professional Magazines
    Pullman, Philip
    Pulp Science Fiction
    Queer Science Fiction
    Quest Fantasy
    Quilter, Laura

    Rice, Anne
    Rossetti, Christina
    Romance/Science Fiction and Fantasy
    Romantic Tradition in Science Fiction
    Rosinsky, Natalie
    Roszak, Theodore
    Rowling, J.K.
    Russ, Joanna
    Russell, Maria Doria
    Russia
    Ryman, Geoff

    Sargent, Pamela
    Scarborough, Elizabeth
    Scott, Melissa
    Seddon-Boulet, Susan
    Sex Changes
    Shelley, Mary Wollstonecraft
    Slash Fiction
    Slonczewski, Joan
    Small Press
    Space Opera
    Star Trek
    Stevens, Francis
    Stewart, Sean
    Stoker, Bram
    Stone, Leslie F.
    Sturgeon, Theodore
    Sword and Sorcery

    Tepper, Sheri A.
    Thomas, Sherree
    Tiptree, Jr., James/Alice Sheldon/Racoona
    Tolkien, J.R.R.
    Transgender
    Transexuality
    Urban Fantasy

    Utopias

    Vampires
    Vidding
    Vinge, Joan D.
    Vonarburg, Elisabeth
    Walton, Evangeline

    War and Peace
    Weird Tales
    Whedon, Joss
    Wilhelm, Kate
    Windling, Terry
    Winterson, Jeanette
    Wolheim, Betsy
    Women's Bookstores
    Wood, Susan

    Xena: Warrior Princess

    Yarbro, Chelsea Quinn
    Yolen, Jane

    ReplyDelete
  45. Robin ANne Reid

    TOpical Guide to VOlume II

    TOPICAL GUIDE TO ENTRIES VOLUME II

    AWARDS AND PUBLISHING

    Awards: Literature for the Young
    Awards: Science Fiction and Fantasy Literature
    Ballantine, Betty
    Datlow, Ellen

    Editors: Fan
    Editors: Professional
    femspec
    Janus/Aurora/New Moon
    Khatru
    McCarthy, Shawna
    Mohanraj, Mary Ann

    Professional Magazines
    Pulp Science Fiction
    Small Press
    Thomas, Sherree
    Weird Tales
    Windling, Terri
    Women's Bookstores

    BIOGRAPHICAL ENTRIES: AUTHORS

    Aiken, Joan
    Alexander, Lloyd
    Arnason, Eleanor
    Asaro, Catherine
    Asimov, Isaac
    Atwood, Margaret

    Brackett, Leigh
    Bradley, Marion Zimmer
    Brin, David
    Brontë Sisters
    Bryher (Ellerman, Annie Winifred)
    Bujold, Lois McMaster
    Bull, Emma
    Butler, Octavia

    Cadigan, Pat
    Carter, Angela
    Carter, Raphael
    Cavendish, Margaret Duchess of Newcastle
    Chant, Joy
    Charnas, Suzy McKee
    Cherryh, C.J.
    Clayton, Jo
    Clarke, Arthur C.
    Coleridge, Sara
    Constantine, Storm
    Cottington, Lady
    Czerneda, Julie

    De Lint, Charles
    De Ford, Miriam Allen
    De France, Marie
    De Pizan, Christine
    Delany, Samuel R.
    Dickinson, Emily
    Duane, Diane
    Due, Tannarive

    ReplyDelete
  46. Robin Anne Reid Topical Guide Part 2

    Elgin, Suzette Haden
    Farmer, Nancy
    Flewelling, Lynn
    Fontana, D.C.
    Friesner, Esther

    Gaiman, Neil
    Gearhart, Sally Miller
    Gentle, Mary
    Gibson, William
    Gilman, Charlotte Perkins
    Gomez, Jewelle
    Gorey, Edward
    Gotlieb, Phyllis
    Griffith, Nicola

    Hamilton, Laurell K.
    Hamilton, Virginia
    Harbou, Thea von
    Heinlein, Robert
    Henderson, Zenna
    Hopkinson, Nalo

    Jackson, Shirley
    Jones, Diana Wynne
    Jones, Gwyneth
    King, Stephen
    Kornbluth, Cyril
    Kress, Nancy
    Kuttner, Henry

    Lackey, Mercedes
    Lee, Tanith
    LeGuin Ursula K.
    L'Engle, Madeline
    Lessing, Doris
    Lindgren, Astrid
    Lynn, Elizabeth A.

    MacAvoy, R.A.
    MacLean, Katherine
    McCaffrey, Anne
    McHugh, Maureen F.
    McIntyre, Vonda N.
    McKillip, Patricia
    McKinley, Robin

    Merril, Judith
    Miéville, China
    Mirlees, Hope
    Mitchison, Naomi
    Moffett, Judith
    Mohanraj, Mary Ann
    Moon, Elizabeth
    Moore, C.L.
    Morrison, Toni

    Norton, Andre
    Oates, Joyce Carol
    Phelps, Elizabeth Stuart
    Piercy, Marge
    Pratchett, Terry
    Pullman, Philip

    Rice, Anne
    Rossetti, Christina
    Roszak, Theodore
    Rowling, J.K.
    Russ, Joanna
    Russell, Maria Doria
    Ryman, Geoff

    Sargent, Pamela
    Scarborough, Elizabeth
    Scott, Melissa
    Shelley, Mary Wollstonecraft
    Slonczewski, Joan
    Stevens, Francis
    Stewart, Sean
    Stoker, Bram
    Stone, Leslie F.
    Sturgeon, Theodore

    Tepper, Sherri A.
    Thomas, Sherree
    Tiptree, Jr., James/Alice Sheldon/Racoona Sheldon
    Tolkien, J.R.R.

    Vinge, Joan D.
    Vonarburg, Elisabeth
    Walton, Evangeline
    Wilhelm, Kate
    Winterson, Jeanette
    Yarbro, Chelsea Quinn
    Yolen, Jane

    BIOGRAPHICAL ENTRIES: ARTISTS, EDITORS, FANS, SCHOLARS, AND OTHERS

    Ballantine, Betty
    Barr, Marleen
    Carol, Avedon
    Cottington, Lady
    Datlow, Ellen
    Dillon, Diane

    Fonstad, Karen Wynn
    Gorey, Edward
    Hyman, Trina Schart
    Lalli, Cele Goldsmith
    LeFanu, Sarah

    McCarthy, Shawna
    Merril, Judith
    Mohanraj, Mary Ann
    Norton, Andre
    Quilter, Laura

    Rosinsky, Natalie
    Sargent, Pamela
    Seddon-Boulet, Susan
    Thomas, Sherree
    Windling, Terri
    Winterson, Jeanette
    Wolheim, Betsy
    Wood, Susan
    Yolen, Jane

    ReplyDelete
  47. Robin Anne Reid Topical GUide 3

    ETHNICITY/RACE

    Butler, Octavia
    Colonization
    Delany, Samuel R.
    Due, Tannarive
    Farmer, Nancy
    Gentle, Mary
    Gomez, Jewelle

    Hamilton, Virginia
    Hopkinson, Nalo
    Jewish Women
    Morrison, Toni
    Thomas, Sherree
    Yolen, Jane

    FANS AND FANDOM

    Carol, Avedon
    Cosplay
    Editors: Fan
    Fan Fiction
    Filk

    Janus/Aurora/New Moon
    Khatru
    Mohanraj, Mary Ann
    Quilter, Laura
    Slash Fiction
    Vidding

    GENRES

    Alternate History
    Arthurian Fantasy
    Comic Science Fiction and Fantasy
    Dystopias
    Environmental Science Fiction
    Epic Fantasy
    Erotic Science Fiction and Fantasy

    Fairy Tales and Folklore
    Fan Fiction
    Feminist Science Fiction
    Ghost Stories
    Gothic
    Graphic Novels
    Horror

    Independent Comics
    Lost Colony Stories
    Magical Realism
    New Weird
    Norse Mythology
    Pulp Science Fiction
    Queer Science Fiction
    Quest Fantasy

    Romance/Science Fiction and Fantasy
    Romance Traditions in Science Fiction
    Slash Fiction
    Space Opera
    Sword and Sorcery
    Urban Fantasy
    Utopias
    Vampires

    NATIONAL LITERATURES

    Australia
    Britain
    British Science Fiction Cinema
    Canada (English)
    Canada (SFQ French)
    China

    France
    Germany
    India
    Japan
    Latin and South America
    Norse Mythology
    Russia

    SEX AND GENDER

    Androgyny
    Asexuality
    Bisexuality
    Cyberbodies, Female
    Female Friendships
    Feminisms
    Feminist Science Fiction

    Gender
    Genetic Engineering
    Homosexuality
    Janus/Aurora/New Moon
    Khatru
    Lesbians
    Pregnancy/Reproduction

    Queer Science Fiction
    Sex Changes
    Slash Fiction
    Transgender
    Transexuality
    Women's Bookstores

    THEMES

    Amazons
    Androgyny
    Animals
    Architecture
    Artificial Life
    Asexuality

    Bisexuality
    Cloning
    Colonization
    Disability
    Education
    Female Friendships
    Feminisms

    Gender
    Genetic Engineering
    Homosexuality
    Languages and Linguistiscs
    Lesbians
    Marxism
    Neurodiversity

    Pregnancy/Reproduction
    Romantic Tradition in SF
    Sex Changes
    Transgender
    Transexuality
    War and Peace

    VISUAL MEDIA

    The Alien Series
    Battlestar Galactica
    British Science Fiction Cinema
    Buffy the Vampire Slayer/Angel
    Cottington, Lady
    Cyberbodies, Female

    Farscape
    Firefly/Serenity
    Fontana, D.C.
    Game Designers
    Gorey, Edward
    Graphic Novels

    Harbou, Thea von
    Independent Comics
    Internet
    The Matrix
    Star Trek
    Whedon, Joss

    ReplyDelete
  48. Robin, I want that encyclopedia! Thank you, again, for all the work you do. And, by the way, no I don't see this as self-serving, more a public service.

    And, even if it was, what's wrong with that? If we wait for others to serve us, we'll get nothing.

    ReplyDelete
  49. Exactly! But I'm just old enough (mid-fifties) and raised in a nice conservative rural environment to have spasms of self consciousness about it--luckily they're much shorter and less intense than they used to be--and while I know the work is beyond a lot of people's individual book buying budget, there's always libraries! And the contributors are a fantastic list of major names in feminist sf in both the writing, editorial, fan, and academic field.

    Robin

    ReplyDelete
  50. People reading this thread may be interested in "Pre-1923 Utopias and Science Fiction by Women:
    A Reading List of Online Editions" which I've just put up as a special collection at A Celebration of Women Writers http://tinyurl.com/4ym2v4e I also list names and information about women writers at the site, so feel free to email suggestions of women & URLS to include in the database, to celebration.women@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  51. I was JUST posting about something very similar earlier this week, but my point/problem was the lack of celebrated women writing/drawing comics and graphic novels, or celebrated comics featuring women (real women, that is. I love Catwoman and Harley Quinn, to go with "traditional" American comics, but these are hardly examples of truly round, diverse characters).

    If you look down a list of, for example, the "top talent in comic books" that the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund have employed for their Liberty Trading Card set, out of 39 "talents", only 2 are women! Does that mean that only 5% of talented artists and writers in the industry are women? Of course not. That's just one example, there are hundreds, if not thousands. If you read an interview with a male artist, his list of inspirational favorites will almost always be exclusively male, while a female artist will usually have a mix between male and female. Why? Because frequently comics drawn by women, or about women, are almost always stuck under less legitimate genre classifications. They'll end up mixed in with the manga (despite not following any of the guidelines that qualify something as manga, or even OEL) ,or placed in the kids/YA section among books rather than other comics, or somewhere other than the actual graphic novels and comics section. Or they're simply not carried at all, or not even given the chance to publish, or the writers/artists will censor themselves, or the girls that want to be artists will see a list full of male names and not even bother, ect.

    Sorry, not trying to rant off topic, I just mean that the situation is pretty much identical in most storytelling mediums when it comes to women and being recognized or given their due. Part of me has been desperately wishing I had the funds and know-how to start a womens-only original content SF/Fantasy writing and comics online magazine. There isn't anything that really fits the bill, and there seems to be a need for one.

    (Again, sorry to go off topic, but I feel like the comics and book industry really go hand-in-hand, since they're both static storytelling formats, just different vessels for the same goal. What goes for one goes in a large part for the other.)

    ReplyDelete
  52. Remki, yes. Divide and conquer, even when not a conscious tactic, is definitely something that works. Women need to claim their space, plant their flag etc. etc.

    BTW, I love the way you draw books :)

    ReplyDelete
  53. Okay maybe someone has mentioned this before, maybe not. Have many people been inside brick & mortar bookstores of late? Look in the science fiction & fantasy section at all? At least here in the states the shelves are packed with a seemingly endless supply of vampire/zombie/wish fulfilment fantasy written by women (or seem to be). It serms to me new science fiction, written by women or men is given a short amount of time then kicked to the curb to make room for more books with covers of muscular women in torn clothes hefting crossbows.

    I'm male, last time I checked, 43 yrs old. Of the women out of the 500 authors I've read 7 of them. C.J. Cherryh is one of my favorite authors in any genre. Some of the ones I've read I like, others not so much. What surprises me are some who made the list (Julian May for example, who I really like, but surprised she's on the list) to those who aren't on the list, Pat Cadigan a glaring omission as another example.

    I personally think this the wrong argument to be having. Instead of dry washing our hands repeatedly over male authors and female authors in science fiction and how many of one gender represent a certain % of novels on a favorites/best list we should instead work on clearing bookshelf space of utter crap and make room for science fiction of quality. Doesn't have to be science fiction. Lots of crap out there on the bookshelves.

    But none of that matters because what sells sells. Hogs eating at the trough will eat slop or steak.

    I don't care if you are male, female, or a transgender dwarf working in a massage parlor. If you can put several words together in a coherent manner and tell a damn good story that's what I care about. This old numbers and % game is quite frankly tiring. Write a great novel and find a way to get it to me. I'll read it. Or I can just stare at covers of Belinda the zombie/vampire/werewolf Slayer in Barnes & Noble and weep wondering where all the science fiction has gone.

    ReplyDelete
  54. Hey, Ripper, I have written several great novels for you to choose from. See sidebar at right. Not a zombie, vampire, or werewolf among them.

    ReplyDelete
  55. This is a little misleading. The same authors were repeated over and over again in the list (most of whom I'd read), as well as the same books. Reading the intro paragraph here, it sounds like there're 500 authors listed, of which only 20 women, that is not so. I am, by the way, a woman who loves sci-fi and dabbles at writing it, and I've found that my gender is far less prone to liking this gender than males. May explain why more men write sci-fi too.

    ReplyDelete
  56. I mean genre :-)

    ReplyDelete
  57. Being a geek (and possibly because I am male :) I compiled a list of all the Novel winners of the Nebula, Hugo, British Science Fiction, World Fantasy and Arthur C Clarke awards for our SF book club. The gender results are that females account for 25% of the winners and 24% of the awards, giving them a ratio of 1.73 awards per author, as opposed to 1.84 for the male authors. This means that while the numbers are unequal, there is parity in the recognition of the authors.

    A fuller research would need to look at the gender ratios in the nominees and against the publication percentages.

    As a related note, our book club covers both SF and fantasy, and the core membership is balanced (3:4 female:male). Of the books chosen by the whole group to read, there has been only 15% by female authors, while those chosen by the female members was 17% female. This suggests that the gender bias in this small group is equal across both camps. Note that two thirds of the female-authored books chosen were fantasy rather than SF.

    When it comes to fantasy novels there is no gender bias in our back-catalogue.

    ReplyDelete
  58. Anon, there are probably a score of different explanations, and half a dozen (at least) ways to interpret the numbers. I'm guessing I've thought of or heard most of them over the last 30 yrs. But I was still sufficiently shocked by these numbers to blog about it.

    PeterD, many thanks for that info. Numbers are good.

    ReplyDelete
  59. Anyone fancy doing some number-crunching on this one? Not that I expect there to be any difference to the Guardian poll... http://www.npr.org/2011/06/20/137249678/best-science-fiction-fantasy-books-you-tell-us#commentBlock

    ReplyDelete
  60. ian, I saw that. I sincerely hope someone does do some counting. I hope everyone who reads this goes and votes.

    ReplyDelete
  61. The balance of male-female authors has been registered at 70-30 in one survey. It needs to change. Some of the best graphic novels have been written by women, just see this list for proof: http://www.top100graphicnovels.com

    ReplyDelete