Boy, it was a rough week for women authors, wasn't it?
|I might need a little Rosie to get me through this.|
*pause for gasp of outrage here*
Whether it was intentional or not, this move makes it seem as though the default novelist setting is male; women aren't the norm and therefore should be placed on their own list. The problem began when Wikipedia editors noticed how very long the list of American novelists was getting and suggested that sublists be created to help control it. Then editors began removing female authors from the main list one by one, often alphabetically, and placing them on the women's list. So long, Harper Lee. See ya, Amy Tan. Fare thee well, Donna Tartt. It's time for you to take your place on the wimmins list.
Social media outlets soon lit up with criticism for this editing decision, and many of the women have been moved back onto the (admittedly ridiculously lengthy) list of American novelists. You can see the conversation the Wikipedia editors have had about the issue here; it's an interesting look at how these changes get made (and unmade and sometimes made again).
As this Forbes article points out, the good news is that this is easily fixable. We all have the power to edit Wikipedia (although the fact is that most Wikipedia editors are young, white males), and this kerfuffle is a good reminder that we need more women and men sensitive to such issues to guard against unconscious gender bias that may be creeping into our institutions, subtly painting women as Other.
The next piece of bad news for women authors came from a study by Strange Horizons, the speculative fiction magazine. The study examined the gender of genre author, genre author reviewers, and genre authors being reviewed in 2012 by looking at 1,326 books and 14 sci fi/fantasy magazines. It found good parity between sci fi author gender (45.8 percent were written by women; 52.5 percent were written by men).
Alas, the picture for book reviews was less positive. The majority of review publications overlooked books authored by women; for nine of the 14 publications studied, fewer than one review in four was for a book with a female author. Here are charts showing showing the gender review breakdown. It's ... disheartening. Women in science fiction have long been overlooked and marginalized, so in a time when the author numbers are starting to even out, there's no reason to have such stark disparity in the number of novels getting publicity from published reviews.
Depressed yet? Let's make ourselves feel better by listing our favorite female genre authors. High on my list are Madeline L'Engle, Robins McKinley and Hobb, Seanan McGuire/Mira Grant, and Connie Willis. Oh, and Cherie Priest and Stacia Kane and Patricia Briggs and Margaret Atwood.
Who are your faves? Let me know in the comments!