Fifty-fifty in 2015.


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. 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.


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9 Comments on “Fifty-fifty in 2015.”

  1. montsamu says:

    I noticed this same self trend in the previous two years, and this year committed to 50-50. Been a good year.

  2. Interesting idea! I went back and reviewed what I have read in 2014. So far, the lady authoresses are leading by two books — including yours! Yay!

  3. Nic says:

    I make a huge effort with this regarding race and ethnicity. I missed out on a lot of key Black literature growing up that I’m trying to make up for now. Not to mention literature from all different parts of the world. #staywoke

  4. […] This isn’t the kind of program that’s really going to help me chisel away at my “to-read” list. These are mostly new books, not all of them well-known (at least, not that I’ve seen in fiction, it does differ from category to category). Perhaps because I spend so much time on Tumblr, I decided that I’m going to aim to review books written by women, especially ones that aren’t western-centric (if nothing meeting that criteria is available I’ll just pick something else). It also helped that, of the books recommended for me, the one meeting that criteria was the most interesting sounding (ok, so maybe I picked this book and then decided to apply a method to my madness. Regardless, I think the author would approve). […]

  5. […] As Gilbert says, we have choice. Do our choices reflect our values and passions? (Monica Byrne found a surprising answer to that when she looked at who wrote the books she reads) […]

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