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Puzzled

How many people does it take to say that the gender inbalance in SF outlets is a problem before it's seriously acknowledged, and accepted, as a problem?

Reasons, blame, motives, agenda, solutions and reason aside.

When is it allowed to be just ... an issue?

When will we be able to get past that discussion and start looking deeper at the more interesting aspects of it?


Comments

( 135 comments — Leave a comment )
mortonhall
Jan. 12th, 2009 02:16 am (UTC)

of course, this is not a new issue - it's been around since the early days of SF writing but I'm sure you knew that :)
girliejones
Jan. 12th, 2009 02:19 am (UTC)
I didn't say it was new. In fact, I think that could be partly the point I was making - it's not new but it's still not even allowed to be discussed without having it's entire basis represented and redefended before we can move onto the discussion.

Edited at 2009-01-12 02:21 am (UTC)
(no subject) - cassiphone - Jan. 12th, 2009 02:26 am (UTC) - Expand
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cassiphone
Jan. 12th, 2009 02:21 am (UTC)
Ha, well it requires a lot of people to resist panicking about the potential loss of a fraction of privilege for ten minutes, long enough to actually listen to what we have to say.

Or, you know. You join groups like Broad Universe or Wiscon and find people to discuss it with who will not start getting hysterical at you for daring to broach the topic. Sadly, this is the internet. There is very little sane here.

girliejones
Jan. 12th, 2009 02:22 am (UTC)
Too true.

(no subject) - angriest - Jan. 12th, 2009 02:26 am (UTC) - Expand
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angriest
Jan. 12th, 2009 02:24 am (UTC)
When is it allowed to be just ... an issue?

Just one more person needs to say it. I promise.

Would I lie?

It's one of those hot-button topics. It rises at least once a year I think, everyone gets very heated and angry, it all becomes a bit of a circus, and then it dies down again with the people who asked the question still angry and the people who answered either hurt and annoyed or laughing maniacally because they've been a troll the whole time.
girliejones
Jan. 12th, 2009 02:27 am (UTC)
Heh.

Well the sad thing to me is, there is so much that is interesting to discuss about it but the angry people and the trolls come in and shout it all down and it never gets anywhere.

Cause of course, there are many other aspects to the issue that aren't gendered which are just as interesting. And just as ignored but when you can't even discuss the obvious one first, what hope does the rest have?

And obviously the answer is to take the discussion elsewhere. Which is sad.
(no subject) - angriest - Jan. 12th, 2009 02:40 am (UTC) - Expand
callistra
Jan. 12th, 2009 02:46 am (UTC)
And it's hard enough keeping up with the spiralling posts on these blogs, let alone another 400plus comments on yours...
:-)
angriest
Jan. 12th, 2009 02:49 am (UTC)
It's getting a bit tricky, isn't it?
punktortoise
Jan. 12th, 2009 02:50 am (UTC)
A couple of unconnected (?) comments.

(1) I gather you're focussing on 'big' markets, but some of the comments on these various posts have been from local male editors indicating their stats don't show a pro-male gender bias. So is it that the gender impediments aren't global, but are concentrated towards the high-profile markets like Asimov's, F&SF etc? (i.e. it's not that difficult for female authors to get a toe in the small-press door, but there's a pro-market glass ceiling?)

(2) On the subject of small press, ASIM might well provide a unique type of test case. Rotation of editors with each issue means that it might be possible to separate out any 'global' preference towards male or female authors from the different tendencies of male and female editors to pick stories by authors of like gender. Not sure how relevant this is, but it's a thought.

And having made the suggestion, it sort of seems churlish not to actually follow up with the sums ... but I haven't. If it's thought worthwhile, though, I probably could.
girliejones
Jan. 12th, 2009 02:54 am (UTC)
More information makes the discussion more rigorous, Would be very interested in your numbers, if you have them.

The issue I haven't dealt with yet, but will, is that I suspect less fiction was published locally last year than in previous years. So whilst the slant may be less, the overall numbers means it's still hard to get published. Maybe.
(no subject) - punktortoise - Jan. 12th, 2009 02:56 am (UTC) - Expand
Some stats ... - punktortoise - Jan. 12th, 2009 04:09 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: Some stats ... - cassiphone - Jan. 12th, 2009 04:14 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: Some stats ... - punktortoise - Jan. 12th, 2009 04:16 am (UTC) - Expand
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Re: Some stats ... - girliejones - Jan. 12th, 2009 04:32 am (UTC) - Expand
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Re: Some stats ... - punktortoise - Jan. 12th, 2009 04:38 am (UTC) - Expand
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talmor
Jan. 12th, 2009 03:06 am (UTC)
I think the debate is about what imbalance you are actually seeing here. If the statistics show that 10% of all submissions from female writers are published, compared to 20% of all submissions from male writers, it shows that there is discrimination on the part of the publishers and editors (for whatever reasons - lack of female editors, for example).

Suppose, on the other hand, that it turns out that 10% of all submissions from female writers are actually published, and 10% of all submissions from male writers are actually published as well. That means that if there are fewer items published by women, it's because fewer women are submitting them. In that case, you'd have to look at readership - if both sexes (NOT genders - I hate it when people use the word 'gender' wrongly) read the genre in equal proportions, but women are writing less than men, then that's a different problem, with different solutions.

If, on the other hand, men and women have equal chances at getting their work published, and have a similar proportion of readers and writers between the sexes, then the issue is that there are fewer women than men reading in the genre. That's a different issue entirely, and it's debatable whether it's a problem at all. Is the fact that fewer men than women read romance novels a 'problem'? Is any difference in leisure preference between the sexes something that is 'wrong', to be corrected? I can see that anyone who enjoys a genre would be keen to see other people discover how enjoyable it is, but it's not a problem on the same scale as discrimination when judging a submitted story, or women being discouraged against writing.

My point is that there is little point discussing, for example, discrimination against female writers, without making some attempt to determine if it actually exists - simply looking at the number of items published doesn't do that.

The root of the imbalance between items published also has a bearing on any proposed or adopted solutions. For example, lets assume there are types of SF story that women are more likely to write and to prefer to read, and types that men are more likely to write and to prefer. A single editor, of either sex, selecting stories to publish, is going to publish stories in the style that _they_like_. Imposing an arbitrary ratio between the sexes for a given collection will just see stories that they like more rejected in favour of ones that they like less. It doesn't imply that readers of a sex different to the editor will like the collection any more...

My gut feeling is that yes, there are few female editors, and that male readers (and editors), on the whole, tend to prefer the types of story that men write, and vice-versa. That preponderance of male editors is responsible for fewer readers in the genre, and thus fewer writers (and hence fewer female editors). That said, it's just my impression, and I'd like to see it backed up with numbers.
angriest
Jan. 12th, 2009 03:17 am (UTC)
My gut feeling is that yes, there are few female editors, and that male readers (and editors), on the whole, tend to prefer the types of story that men write, and vice-versa. That preponderance of male editors is responsible for fewer readers in the genre, and thus fewer writers (and hence fewer female editors). That said, it's just my impression, and I'd like to see it backed up with numbers.

This has always been my impression as well, and of course the generally male editors of yesteryear would have led to generally male readers, some of whom have grown up to become another generation of generally male editors. And so the cycle continues.

If there is to be a deliberate move to encouraging parity, it's at the editor level I think the move would be most effective.
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monissaw
Jan. 12th, 2009 03:34 am (UTC)
Possibly because it is being presented as problem, and that is going to generate discussion of whether it's a problem or not.

Which interesting aspects did you want to actually discuss? :)
girliejones
Jan. 12th, 2009 04:19 am (UTC)
The fact that it never changes - that even as we raise it as an issue, and editors and publishers must be aware of it, nothing ever changes.

And also ... the big one .. why are female stories (that doesn't mean stories written *by* women but stories that tell stories of women as in things that are relevant or about being women or from the perspective of women) are less interesting to men.
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nyssa_p
Jan. 12th, 2009 08:22 am (UTC)
Actually I just remembered. I did a small survey that looked at male vs female readers against male vs female authors.

http://www.aboygoesonajourney.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=97&Itemid=165 Here it is if you're interested.

mallory_blog
Jan. 12th, 2009 09:13 am (UTC)
a lot of people and a long time...
( 135 comments — Leave a comment )

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