Some time in March1 this year I did a gender audit of my reading. I had been listening to those subversive women at Galactic Suburbia and I really wanted to see how I did.
Now prior to conducting the audit I had a fairly high opinion of myself. I have no obvert preferences for male writers over female, and I thought on the whole the gender split would probably be fairly close, say 60/40 in favour of men.
As a feminist friendly male reader I had a gender split of 82/18.2 So I set about making a conscious effort to read female writers, especially for my recreational reading as opposed to my official reviewing.
Some may ague that you should read what you enjoy, not be forced into a choice3. I think to some degree that’s fine especially if you are just a recreational reader. But I also review books so I think it behoves reviewers to examine and challenge bias if it’s obvious and institute structural changes to their reading selection in an attempt to curtail unconscious bias.
I made a conscious decision to request books from women. You don’t always get the books you request and a lot of times you get books that you don’t. I also decided to be less conscious of choice towards the end of the year.
60/40 was the split in favour of men.
Of my 5 star rated reviews 73 % were women4
I am still keen to do better next year, as I note that there women to be read in my TBR pile this year.
1. much to my chagrin I as unable to rescue this information from my hacked wordpress site
2. Even this may be generous, no lower than 15% I would bet my signed William Gibson on.
3.When you start to dig a little deeper on how we think and make decisions, choice doesn’t really seem that free, i.e. guided by preferences, manipulated by marketing, undermined by subconscious bias.
4.Still reading Roil by Trent Jamieson and think it will be a five.
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