It wasn’t until college that I began to see articles bemoaning a lack of female authors in fantasy and science fiction.
My reaction: . . . Really?
This was around the same time I had begun to realize I gravitated towards female authors and female main characters. To this day, I have never found myself with a dearth of authors and stories to read. When I think back on the authors I read as a child, the names I remember are primarily women.
I discovered Tamora Pierce by the time I was seven and have read the Song of the Lioness quartet at least once a year since. Within a year or two of that, I was reading Andre Norton, Anne McCaffrey, Marion Zimmer Bradley, Mercedes Lackey, Patricia Wrede, and Robin McKinley. In middle school, I discovered Kristen Britain’s Green Rider and Patricia McKillip’s Riddlemaster of Hed. Rhiannon Lassiter’s Hex series introduced me to cyber punk.
I was late to the Harry Potter bandwagon, mostly because I wasn’t interested in reading about a boy.
Then came Jane Lindskold, Anne Bishop, Octavia Butler . . . I’ll spare you an even longer list.
But if you asked me to name a male author I read with equal avidity, I would come up with far fewer. Lloyd Alexander. Garth Nix. R. A. Salvatore. Until my junior year of college, I didn’t even read Neil Gaiman.
So the idea that male far outnumbered female authors seemed absurd. And if that was true at the time, ten years has (mostly) changed that.
Over the last few months, I keep stumbling across articles that give ratios of male to female authors currently publishing, and the numbers tend to be fairly balanced. The problem for female authors is that their books toward fewer reviews, which means less visibility, fewer sales, and fewer opportunities to promote their work.
There are so many amazing female authors out there, but it’s easy not to see them. I hope that within another ten years, this will change for the better.
Just some food for thought.
- A piece at The Mary Sue about the discrepancy between gender parity in publishing vs. reviews.
- A piece at Tor.com about making a conscious decision to read more female authors & a follow-up.
- When publishers are often the ones blamed for gender inequality, one UK editor weighs in.
- This article by Sarah Rees Brennan regarding sexism and self-promotion is an amazing and important read.