I have been interested in getting into publishing for a while now, so when I saw a link to this article about the supposed gender bias within the publishing industry, I couldn’t help but take a look.
In short, what this article is talking about is the fact that there is quite a bit more content created by males - both in the writing and reviewing sectors - than females. They support this by throwing a bunch of statistics around developing a viewpoint that suggests that the book publishing and reviewing worlds are extremely sexist in the ways that they choose what content they want to use.
Before I dive straight into this issue, however, why don’t we just stop and take a quick look at the past.
Less than 150 years ago, it was nearly impossible for a woman to get published in normal everyday society. In fact, one had to use a male pseudonym just to get the men working in the publishing industry to take a look at their work. Not to mention that women have only truly begun their fight for equality since around the 1970s.
Keep in mind that this is just an idea, but maybe this fact has something to do with the situation now. It takes time for people to change, we can’t expect everything to be completely perfect just yet.
What I found really stood out in this article for me, however, was this quote:
Vida co-director Erin Belieu said the Vida statistics clearly showed that “some sort of systemic bias” was at work.
Now, for these statistics to clearly show a “systemic bias”, everyone in the industry would need to be following this system of being biased towards women. Because this entire article is just speculation, nobody can ever come to a conclusion like this without an incredible amount of further information. It would take an insider to find out what’s really going on.
What this lack of information suggests as a more plausible conclusion is that there could just be more quality work stemming from the male population than from the female. It is possible that this entire scandal is not a conspiracy against women but instead the unforseen result of the screening process.
One last quote, though.
"Such a very wide discrepancy between the rates of publication clearly points at some other external forces at work beyond an editor’s idea of ‘good’ and ‘not as good’," she said. "And, you know, we live in a world where gender bias is embedded in practically every aspect of our lives – why would the literary world be different than the larger world in terms of the way women are viewed and valued? It’s not. No surprise there."
Now, what this quote claims is that gender bias is still pretty much just as evident as it has been in the past. No acknowledgement whatsoever of the enormous steps women have already taken to secure their personal place in this world, or the many improvements in our societal situations.
Maybe there is a way to fix all this though. If equality is what everyone is working towards, we may just have to make it so there is no way for one to discriminate based on gender. This is just a completely theoretical idea, but if we keep the details from the authors hidden - gender, age, everything - until it is either accepted or rejected, what would anyone have to complain about? Would we still have grounds for arguments like the one presented in the article, claiming that the world is sexist, or would that too be a thing of the past?
~ Patricia Tina