Due to financial constraints, I discontinued my SinC membership, so I don’t know how much progress they’ve made since then. But I was really interested, and somewhat appalled, to read that the preference for reviewing books written by men is still prevalent with some publications, and in other genres besides crime fiction.
A piece npr books discusses the annual findings of a women’s literary organization called VIDA. VIDA spends eight months of every year tracking not only who’s being reviewed in major publications, but who is writing the reviews. They’ve found a clear disparity between men and women. For instance, The Atlantic, The London Book of Reviews, The New Republic, and The Nation, not only have 75 male reviewers to 25 females, and this split is exactly the same for books reviewed. I strongly doubt there are three times as many men writing novels as there are women. What’s particularly disturbing is that these stats haven’t changed in four years. You can read the piece to see how some publications have responded to VIDA’s findings, but the bottom line is that inequality is still there. No one is suggesting that publications insist on a 50/50 split, but 72/25, and in one case 80/20? Come on. This is 2014. If these publications want to stay relevant (see last week’s blog), then isn’t it time they better acknowledged the contributions of women writers?