I let my membership with SinC lapse and didn’t give the issue much more thought until an article this week in Time stated that reading habits appeared to be gender specific. Men preferred to read work by male authors while women preferred to read female authors. The data was based on a poll taken from 40,000 readers from the large Goodreads.com site.
The article also noted that a yearly analysis conducted by Vida: Women in Literary Arts, showed that the reviewers in the top publications were predominantly male. It seems that nothing has changed over the last decade, despite the efforts of SinC and others.
Quotes from female authors in the article noted that publishers tend to package women’s work in a more feminine style instead of giving their books a gender neutral appearance. In earlier decades, women writers didn’t use their own names for fear that they wouldn’t find a publisher. Even in the latter part of the twentieth century, I recall reading articles suggesting that female science fiction writers use their initials or a pen name. Have things changed? A little, but not nearly enough for some women writers.
Although more women are writing thrillers and noir fiction, the majority still appear to be writing fun, light cozies. Let’s be real here, men shouldn’t be forced to read what they don’t want to any more than women should be. For that reason alone, I don’t think the deeply entrenched gender preferences will ever change. As a woman writer, if I want more recognition, I’ll join the ranks of gritty, thriller writers, use a pseudonym and launch another series. But I’m not going to waste time complaining about gender inequality. I’m far too busy writing stories for anyone who wants to read them.