Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Reflections on Gender Bias

After my round table on Gender Bias, I've been striving to improve the gender parity of the books I read and review. With a little less than three months of paying much closer attention to the results of these efforts I've come to the following conclusion.

Reviews on male written work generate more traffic. I've reviewed five male written novels since the first of October. These novels only account for approximately thirty six percent. Even with female written novels accounting for sixty four percent of the novels reviewed in this period, posts that feature male authors generate approximately 20 more hits than their female counterparts. Perhaps readers are more likely to check out a review for novels they've already noticed in book stores or authors with more name recognition.

There are probably lots of reasons for this. Publishers do seem to promote male written novels more heavily, I've seen evidence of that while perusing Netgalley and even in my local book stores. The thing is there's precious little that we as genre lovers can do to directly impact the publishing model directly except by voting with our dollars.

So what's a mid-list blogger to do about it? Gender parity is a step, and one I'm quite glad I've taken. I've discovered a score of new authors that I'd previously overlooked and have been gratified to discover novels that have entertained, touched and challenged me. I'm happy to have had a small hand in recommending them to my audience. But I'm left wondering what else can I, and  we as a community do to make this genre we love so much more inclusive?  My curiousity about the possible reasons posts on female authors seem to draw less traffic, which lets face it may impact the reading habits of reviewers who are looking to grow their audience, has led me to one possible and relatively simple answer.

We spread the word. Looking over my twitter feed for the last few months has led me to some surprising statistics. The number of retweets I average on female written novels in the past few months is an average of five per post. On the flip side the number of retweets for male posts averages at 10 per post. I'm sure there are other factors at play in which posts get the most promotional juice from social media, but this is something we can control. We can spread the word with nothing more than the click of a mouse. If you see a review promoting a female author's work, especially if it is one you have read and enjoyed, take a second and share it. It doesn't matter whether it is an old novel, a promising debut, or the newest craze, just share it. It takes no time at all, and it is a simple way to keep novels by under promoted authors in the eye of their audience.

For my part, I'll keep on reading for parity and sharing my thoughts with you all, and I'll be sure to put my money where my mouth is by sharing reviews for authors who may not be getting the attention they deserve.

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