So I was reading an article about gender bias in book journalism over at The Guardian today, and shaking my head sadly about the fact that the the bulk of the book reviewers are men, and the majority of the books reviewed are by men.
And then I quite naturally wondered about the gender balance here on my blog. Obviously, 100% of the reviews are written by a female. But it turns out that I have a strong bias towards books by women. In the past year (Feb 2011-2012) I reviewed 131 books by women, 64 books by men, and 4 books jointly authored by one of each. Hmm. This is actually an improvement from the state of things when I asked myself the same question back in this post from June of 2010, when I concluded that I reviewed one male author for every four female ones.
Just as was the case in 2010, in 2011 almost all my reading has been science fiction and fantasy for kids. In that 2010 post, I tried to get a sense of whether my female bias was a result simply of the abundance of women writers in this genre, and I found some support for this in looking over a sample of my lists of new releases.
However, 2012 is a different story! It is the year in which men achieve publishing equity in mg sff! In my past five lists, 34 new middle grade sci fi/fantasy books by women, 40 by men. (maybe...I like my data, but am not wedded to it, and sometimes it's hard to know the gender of initials, and sometimes I count wrong. However, anyone who wants to count for themselves, please do! Let me know what numbers you get! I am almost tempted to do more counting, but will resist).
So I'm currently working on the assumption that I read more books by women because women tend to write more books that appeal to me. And since I do, after all, want to read books I like, the gender imbalance on my blog will probably continue. But I maybe will try to make it a little bit less unbalanced by this time next year...because I want my lists and such to be useful resources to all readers, not just Charlotte-reader-alikes.
7 of the 8 authors shortlisted for this year's Andre Norton Award are women. Last year was the first in which there was gender equity (4 and 4), and I am very glad that Terry Pratchett won. If it hadn't been for that year, I would be wondering if those whose votes result in the shortlist are guilty of unconsciously equating women's writing with children/younger readers, which is an awful thought.