Today’s literary gender gap

UnknownMale authors and reviewers continue to take a disproportionate slice of the literary pie, according to new research which reveals that publications including the London Review of Books, the Times Literary Supplement and the New Yorker all show a considerable bias towards men, reports todays edition of The Guardian

Vida, an American organisation for women in the literary arts, has analysed the reviews and bylines in a cluster of publications annually for the last three years in an attempt to highlight the huge imbalance between male and female authors and reviewers. But the latest figures show that little has changed since 2010: at the LRB, in 2012 24% of reviewers were women (66 out of 276), with 27% of books reviewed written by women. At the New York Review of Books, 16% of reviewers were women, with 22% of the books reviewed written by women. At the TLS, 30% of the 1,154 reviewers were women, and 25% of the 1,238 books reviewed were written by women.

This compares to 2011, when at the LRB 16% of reviewers and 26% of authors reviewed were women, at the New York Review of Books 21% of reviews were by women, and at the TLS 30% of reviews were by women.

At Harper’s, the number of women authors reviewed has actually fallen over the last three years, Vida shows, from 21 in 2010 to 19 in 2011 and 11 in 2012. At the New Republic, the number of female book reviewers has also fallen, from 13 in 2010 to 11 in 2011 and 9 out of 88 reviewers in 2012. Overall, female contributors have also fallen at the Paris Review over the last three years, to just 18 out of 88 in 2012 from 32 out of 91 in 2010.

“They’re very poor figures,” said Jenny Diski, author and reviewer. Novelist and reviewer Jenny Turner agreed. “Of course I’ve noticed. Yes, of course I think it’s bad. And yes, I have thought a lot about how to address it, but the problem is both subtle and deep-rooted, which makes it difficult to grasp by the usual methods,” she said.


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