Tuesday 6 March 2012

Sex percentages of authors reviewed...

Having just read the post on Coverage of Women on SF/F Blogs by Ladybusiness (read it for the stats and some analysis), I decided to tot up the TFF Reviews figures for last year. Just out of interest; this is an unscientific statistic, both because it's such a small sample, and because the count is open to interpretation (as I'll explain) and I'm hardly an impartial statistician. But for what it's worth...

Of the 51 reviews we posted in 2011:
  • 31 (61%) were of works authored or edited by men (to the best of my knowledge);
  • 18 (35%) were of works authored or edited by women;
  • 2 (4%) were of works or collections the gender of whose author or editor I cannot immediately tell.
For the record: for magazines, anthologies and other edited work, I used the sex of the named editor if one was given (or if I happen to know the person who edits the zine). Also for the record: we have a mixed team of reviewers, almost equally divided between male and female (53% of reviews had a male byline, against 47% female). For what it's worth, our current list of 34 titles available contains 20 with male authors, 10 female, 4 ambiguous (named with initials or names inscrutible to me).

The numbers are not as good as I hoped they would be, although marginally better than the average in the survey. This makes me wonder: do we need a reviewers' Russ Pledge?

I read a lot of SFF by women personally, but TFF reviews small press and indie publications, so these titles pretty much by definition have to be offered to us by the publisher or author, and our reviewers have freedom to choose anything on the list. I'm reluctant to change these rules (but would be interested to hear people's opinions on this), but I will say here that (a) we're actively looking for more women reviewers, so if you're interested in reviewing, take a look at our guidelines and drop us an email; and (b) we'd actively like to add more indie/small press titles by women authors and editors to our list, so likewise, check the guidelines and drop us an email.


Anonymous said...

I think, or at least I hope, that in a smallish close-knit community such as Future Fire it will be enough to bring this disparity to the attention of the reviewers. I know I had not been paying much (OK no) attention to the gender of the author of the books I have been choosing.

I promise to do a Paul Cornell and try to chose at least 50% of the books from female authors.

What about the rest of you?

Johann Carlisle said...

I'd also been paying no attention to this, assuming that an overtly feminist venue like TFF with many women collaborators would have this in hand, but looking back I've only reviewed one book with women author's in it in the last two years. I'd have to review 90% female-authored titles in the next two years to redress that balance. Maybe I will.

Anonymous said...

Interesting. I pay close attention to what I receive and review for Black Static. My figures for 2011 were 261/2 books written or edited by women out of a total of 101 reviewed (26%). I was sent 164 books, and out of those only 331/2 were by woman (20%).

Djibril said...

Yes, that's pretty much what I was thinking. I'll draw this to the attention of our reviewers, and let them act on it or not as they choose.

But I also want actively to seek out more books by women, and more women reviewers to redress the balance a little.

Djibril said...

So although not much over a quarter of the books you've reviewed are by women, you have an 80% review rate for women's books (as compared to 57% for men's). Which is pretty good going.

So why is it you think you see less books by women? Do women write less horror? Do publishers promote their women authors less well? Do you receive books from authors themselves too--in which case, do women promote themselves less? Maybe it costs to send speculative review copies to a small press magazine, and women have less disposal income (on average) than men?

I'm thinking out loud, but I'm wondering what, if any of these things are true, we can do to redress the balance. (We'll review e-books, for example, which saves the author money, but in practice we discriminate slightly against them as compared to print.)

Djibril said...

Bryce comes to some of the same conclusions as we're musing about here over at http://myawfulreviews.blogspot.com/2012/03/sexism-in-review-blogging-is-that-thing.html.

Does anyone with an insider view of the SFF publishing industry have any insight into whether novels by women are promoted (or sent to reviewers) less by the publishers?

Djibril said...

I've added a clause to the review guidelines for publishers to the effect that: "We accept all subgenres of speculative fiction, regardless of author or medium, including self-published work, but we are especially interested in seeing more books by (and of interest to) women, people of color, Quiltbag folk, differently abled and other under-represented groups." Obviously one added note isn't enough, so please help spread the word that we're actively interested in achieving better inclusiveness.

Anonymous said...

My impression is that fewer women are being published in the horror genre, and also that the UK is trailing behind other countries, though we do need to bear in mind that a lot of material that was once published as horror is now marketed as paranormal romance.

As far as Black Static itself goes, stories by women are running at 25%:-


I've done some other blog posts on the subject of gender in horror.

Female representation in the UK small/indie press, and a lot else beside:-


Women appearing in horror anthologies:-


And a more general post on the gender theme:-


I probably need to revisit some of these.