Or "Why I'll probably never receive a Nobel Prize." More information here

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Comment by Pate Grantwell on December 7, 2008 at 10:30am
I definitely believe gender bias negatively impacts female writers, and that it springs partly from our perception of women as kindler, gentler people. Many people simply believe that women are more interested in love stories or stories that intimately explore our humanity. Murder and mayhem are viewed by some to be activities that mainly interest men. People with this view would no doubt look with disfavor upon works of crime fiction written by women. However I believe that this attitude can easily be defeated by exceptionally good works. If something takes your breath away, prejudice jut doesn't stand a chance. People will read crime stories written by women, just as they will read love stories written by men.

The stories just have to be really good.
Comment by I. J. Parker on December 6, 2008 at 5:00am
Bernd, I read your article, which is excellent apart from the fact that it really just deals with statistics and cites complaints. I do think that you make an excellent point (and I certainly don't think you're ignorant) when you speak about subgenres (such as the P.I. novel) that may attract fewer female authors, while the cozies are pretty well dominated by women. The answer may well lie in what most female authors do particularly well because they feel strongly about it vs. what men do well because they feel strongly about it. This then also leads to the fact that women write for women, and men write for men. In how far this extends to reviewers or the editors at the large publishing houses, I don't know.
I do know that I'm very unusual in that I have probably more male fans than female ones. But keep in mind that statistics show that there are more women readers.
Comment by Dana King on December 6, 2008 at 12:02am
I think Bernd is getting into the real meat of the matter with his last paragraph. While his evidence is somewhat anecdotal--it's a decent number of reviews statistically, but since he only has his experience to go on it's hard to know what else might have affected it--but 26% seems to be low, considering what I know about how the realtive proportions of each gender who write in our field.

There are a lot of potential variables. It's possible women are more often published by smaller houses that are unable to get the same amount of reviews as the larger houses. (Of course, that could imply a bias of its own, though you'd hope the marketplace would sort that out.) I confess, I didnt think much of this topic when I read Michelle's original post over at Kill Zone (frankly, I'm a guy and didn;t think much about the issue), but based on what I've read here, it's not unreasonable to assume something is up until there's some evidence the other way.
Comment by Bernd Kochanowski on December 5, 2008 at 9:16pm
Michelle,

here is the link, but I have to warn you. The article is in German, although the table should be self-explaining. The German text added a word of caution, (I might translate it if you care). Obviously, I don't know the number of books published by female and male authors in the individual sub-genres and categories ect.

I.J.s advice, "Playing the numbers game for awards is, in my opinion, unworthy." suggests I'm an ignorant. Certainly, I might be that. The table shows data for genders of nominees (not just winners) cumulated over ten years. It seems to me that the differences are not only due to statistical variations, but there might be several satisfying explanitions.

Since 2005 I wrote about 240 reviews and had to realize that only 26 % of the books were written by female authors. Jenny Silers complain that she doesn't get the same attention as male thriller authors might indeed be true (and applied on myself).
Comment by Michelle Gagnon on December 5, 2008 at 3:23pm
I definitely take the awards with the proverbial grain of salt. Bias seems somewhat inevitable, especially when you factor in close friendships between judges and entrants.
Comment by I. J. Parker on December 5, 2008 at 8:05am
Yes, that system of appointing Edgar judges is highly dubious. Surely it cannot always have bveen that way. The award used to be pretty prestigious.
As for the Anthony, that situation became laughable when I attended my first Bouchercon and saw groups of fans sticking their heads together to ask what they should pick (not having read the books). I doubt very much that any of the voters have read all the books listed. They end up picking the only book they read or getting their inspiration from whatever source is available. For that reason I have never voted for the Anthony. You simply cannot pick the best book without having read all of them.
I should add that the recent Shamus winners were also a subject of the gender bias charge. I served on one of the committees and can attest to the fact that none of the female authors came close to the quality expected of a winner (and I read them all). This is not always the case -- there are some outstanding writers among women -- but it was for my category on this occasion.
Comment by Michelle Gagnon on December 5, 2008 at 6:38am
Excellent points, Dana.
Comment by Dana King on December 5, 2008 at 5:54am
I commented on this over at Kill Zone, but Michelle's previous comment raises an interesting side issue that has always haunted me about awards. Much like baseball's Hall Of Fame, awards are self-defining institutions that, in general, refuse to define themselves. What does it say about the relaibility of the Edgars (since they were mentioned above) when the tastes and, potentially cronyism of a handful of people decide the awards? Awards like the Anthonys may be more of a popularity contest, but at least they're getting a broader cross section from which to build a consensus.

I think a study like SINC's would have more merit when studying bias than one that focused too closely on awards, if only because the statistical base was larger, which would also allow for trends to be spotted.
Comment by Michelle Gagnon on December 5, 2008 at 5:32am
Actually, the Edgars vary year by year for the simple fact that the outgoing MWA president determines the judges for the following year, and frequently choose their friends/favorite writers. So when RFC is president, the next year, lots of noir novels nominated.
Comment by I. J. Parker on December 5, 2008 at 5:18am
As I said, you might question the make-up of the juries. I'm not aware of any bias in the judging, though I once suspected that the Edgars favored women because gender politics, perhaps due to SINC, were at work. I'm also not aware of any bias among reviewers. There, I might complain that hardcovers get more attention. Also, of course, best selling authors get reviewed regularly, regardless of quality of work, but that can be ascribed to the reviewer's or the paper's obligation to their readers.

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