Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Sci-fi Book World Remains Bias Towards Male Authors

Image reproduced under license: Flickr, R C Mariner
The Strange Horizons Count for 2015 has been published, concluding that, whilst some progress has been made to address the gender imbalance in sci-fi (SF) book journalism, in most SF magazines, most of the reviews are written by men and most of the books covered are by men.

The Strange Horizons Count started four years ago, and was inspired by the American Vida Count, set up to increase critical attention to contemporary women’s writing, as well as add further transparency around gender equality issues in contemporary literary.

Each year the VIDA and SF Counts looks at the behaviour over the previous year of key journals, publications, and press outlets. This year the SF Count looked at 18 magazines and journals. Officials counted the number of reviews of prose books (novels, short stories, and related non-fiction) in each publication in 2015, by author or editor gender and race. For books with co-authors or co-editors, the attribution was fractioned as appropriate. In addition to the reviews and reviewer counts, they conducted a count of Locus "books received" columns for April, July, and October 2015.

Key Findings

  • Of the 18 magazines reviewed, only five reviewed at least as many books by women or non-binary (WNB) writers as books by men. 
  • In 11 magazines the ratio of books by men to books by WNB was 2:1 or greater. 
  • In all but six magazines at least 60% of the reviews were written by men.
  • 10 of the 18 magazines looked at didn’t even manage to give 10% of their review coverage to books by writers of colour. Seven of them had no reviewers of colour at all.
  • The most diverse publications are often the smallest. The publications most likely to reivew books by WNB writers were The Cascadia Subduction Zone, Romantic Times and Lightspeed. The publications most likely to review books by writers of colour were Lightspeed, The Cascadia Subduction Zone and Strange Horizons.
  • The publications with the highest proportion of WNB reviewers were Romantic Times, The Cascadia Subduction Zone, and The publications with the highest proportion of reviewers of colour were Lightspeed, The Cascadia Subduction Zone, and
When the SF count started, across all the publications surveyed, WNB writers received about 30% of reviews, and wrote about 30% of reviews. This year, both numbers were up to just over 40%. For writers of colour, the baseline is lower and the improvement is smaller – up from about 5% to about 10%.

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