Inspired by the VIDA Count, I decided to apply their methodology to this blog.
The time frame I looked at is Aug. 1, 2012, to Aug. 1, 2013. I tallied up all the posts by gender of the author. Most of those are about works of fiction. A handful are books on writing. The numbers exclude posts that are about my own work or writing process as well as a couple of posts about anthologies featuring work by multiple authors. I wanted to focus specifically on the posts where I engage with a work by a single author because I think it’s most representative of where I am making editorial decisions that could potentially have a gender component to them.
Here is how it broke down…
Posts focusing on works by women: 11
Posts focusing on works by men: 8
A few comments on the stats:
- A quick glance at July and June 2012 turns up 3 posts featuring works by men so this may have been a particularly favorable sample. It wouldn’t be that difficult to go back and look at the full archives of this blog. I hope to do so in the near future.
- I can definitely say that several of the works of fiction that I have read in the past year that have stuck with me the most and influenced my own writing are by women. In particular, the short story collections by Ekaterina Sedia, Karen Joy Fowler, Karen Russell and Kij Johnson.
- I wish that GoodReads had a way to view books read and to-read by gender. In spite of what I turn attention to when I blog, I’m quite sure that my actually reading is imbalanced towards male writers. I’d be interested to know what the exact percentage is. I know the argument that goes “who cares? You should just read what you want!”, but that’s a rather silly approach to take for hardcore readers: at any one time there are scores of books that I want to read. And the list grows weekly. Being intentional about what you read is the better approach (even if it takes more work) and gender is one factor that I personally use in prioritizing my reading list, and I’m the better for it as a reader, writer, critic and human being.
- I’m not posting this to be self-congratulatory (in fact, it’s possible that my stats as a whole are biased towards men and that this was an outlier year). Nor am I suggesting that other genre fiction bloggers should do the same. Nor am I going to make prescriptive pronouncements about the field.
- I’m quite confident that if I looked at other factors, such as class, nationality, ethnicity and sexuality, my count would be quite abysmal. I have made some efforts to seek out works by authors who are not white, middle class and straight, but I could do better. And, again, I know that some people think that making such considerations is stupid. I don’t. I’m a comparatist–I see value in voices that are not quite so close to my own.