Speaking as someone who’s been involved with publishers and booksellers for most of my career, I’ve always thought of the book industry as woman-friendly and observed little or no gender discrimination. A recent article in the Huffington Post has set me thinking, however, especially as it’s by a man – Jimmy Leach.
He points out that few women make it into the upper echelons of publishing. In this respect, it has to be said, it is much like teaching and librarianship, two female-dominated professions in which men still tend to get most of the top jobs. But Leach is more concerned with what he calls the ‘creative side’ of publishing. Here is the nub of his article:
“A survey from Mslexia has found that women are 50 percent less likely to submit their work for publication to publishers. The last annual VIDA count shows a continued imbalance between the number of men and women published by journals and literary magazines (see the link for details across different publications) and a recent Guardian survey shows a similar picture in the gender of book reviewers, where reviewers and contributors, even to those bastions of correctness the Guardian and the Observer themselves failed to get close to a 50-50 balance.”
So apparently there is hard evidence of gender discrimination in publishing, although I’ve failed to realise it myself. But what can be done about it? Leach’s solution is interesting: he advocates crowd funding to encourage women of modest means to venture into publishing. This is undoubtedly a good suggestion and provides a possible solution. Another answer is to self-publish: it isn’t expensive, it’s rewarding and, crucially, whether you’re female or male you remain at all times your own boss.
For Jimmy Leach’s full article please click here.