Fifty-fifty in 2015.Posted: December 15, 2014
Photo: a bookshelf in my study.
Here’s how insidious unconscious gender bias is: I don’t realize that I do it, too.
I was texting with my friend Paul, who is a wonderful writer, about what books we were reading. I recommended a book by a man to him. He said he’d committed to gender parity, so he needed to read a book by a woman first. I was like, “Right on,” and then thought to myself, “I wonder what my numbers are. I’m such an überfeminist. I’m sure it’s at least 50/50.”
I keep track of all the books I read, and you know what? No bueno. It was 30/70 in the past year.
How did that happen? Not because I was intentionally sexist, but because the entire system is sexist, and disproportionately encourages and buys and publishes and markets and reviews and sells books by men, and it takes deliberate overcompensation to correct for that. For anyone. Including me. Including all the editors at literary magazines tracked by VIDA who still think they’re somehow not part of the problem. I didn’t think I was part of the problem, but the numbers show that I am. I have to work to correct that.
So in 2015, I’m going for gender parity. First up: Betsy-Tacy by Maud Hart Lovelace, for a very important reason that I’ll chronicle at a later date. I’m excited.