16 May 2009

Is writing still a man's world? - poll available

Feast on Books raised such an interesting question this week, that I thought I'd run a poll on it.

Peter was commenting on the fact that the "Orange Prize for Fiction, an annual British award given to the best novel of the year by a woman." He seemed to think that sort of pro-activism was a bit dated.

His research came up with the following:
    Nobel Prize for Literature: 5 of the last 20 were women
    Pulitzer Prize for Fiction: 7 of the last 20
    National Book Award for Fiction: 7 of the last 20
    Man Booker Prize for Fiction: 5 of the last 20
    National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction: 7 of the last 20
In Australia the Davitt Awards won last year by Katherine Howell for FRANTIC are presented annually by Sisters in Crime Australia for the best crime novel by an Australian woman published in the previous year. In 2008 there were 41 nominees in three categories, adult, young adult and true crime, as well as a readers' choice award. Check my post for the lists.

Anyway, I've created a poll (see the right hand column) titled Of the last 5 books you read, how many authors were female?
Just check your last 5 books. I had a bit of a quandary because one of my last "authors" is a mother and son team, so I counted them in my numbers.
I'll run the poll for a week, and then report back.

What about you, do you look for books by women?
Dop you think there should be prizes based on gender? Are there any specific prizes for male writers or do you think some genres exclude women anyway?


Bernadette said...

I voted twice - first I said 1 but then I realised that one of the books was a pseudonym for 2 sisters - sorry to muck up your numbers (I thought it might remember my IP address). In general though I do tend to read more women authors (I've read 50 books so far this year and 32 were by women authors) but I don't try as hard as a I used to in my younger days. As for awards I'm not that fussed because I don't put a lot of weight on them but I do think there'd be more backlash if there was an award that only male authors were eligible for.

Kerrie said...

I thought it might do clever things with IP adresses too Bernadette but obviously not. Perhaps it only remembers those with Blogger log-ins.

Dorte H said...

Interesting poll, Kerrie.

I checked my latest reviews. Four women and two men ;) (One Sjöwall & Wahlöö, a couple).

I look for good crime fiction; many of those are - and have always been - written by women, especially because I am not highly interested in hardboiled fiction.

Maria said...

Good poll. I might have to use it on my site later in the year!

I tend to read more women when I'm reading cozies. I don't hunt women out specifically, but generally more women write cozies, I think. But since my reading goes in phases (sometimes I'll read nothing but fantasy for 6 months) what I read last isn't necessarily a good indicator.

In my experience, I think Urban Fantasy has the most even split of male/female authors.

I don't look specifically at the author and in fact won't even pay attention to the name UNTIL I like a book (or really, really hate it.) Then I make note of it. Sometimes I'm surprised to find it's one or the other.

Oh...I just thought of something. Two of the books that I voted as women authors--are actually a husband/wife team. So now your poll is really a mess. I forgot because the name on the book is a combo of the team, but it's Ilona Andrews--and that first name is female, ergo I voted without thinking about it...

Kerrie said...

Perhaps I'll have to run a poll about teams of writers - that would really get messy wouldn't it?

It is interesting what you say about the genres you find various genders writing Maria. There are probably some genres (like romance) that few men venture into either as readers or writers

Bernadette said...

I'm not so sure about that last statement Kerrie - I once worked at a convention of Mills and Boon writers - At first I though all the blokes milling about were the partners of the writers but it turned out the convention was strictly for writers only and a good third of the ones at the convention were blokes using female pseudonyms for their books.

Dani In NC said...

I don't look specifically for female authors, but most of my books are written by women. Out of my last 5 books, 4 of them were written by women. I think it works out that way because I read a lot of non-fiction on subjects that are aimed at women like parenting and crafting. As for novels, I've been in a chick lit and Christian romance mode. There are a lot of female authors in those genres, as well. My list will soon be flooded with testosterone, though, because I am trying read more classics with one of my friends.

Heartbeatoz said...

I've read all the Kerry Greenwood Corinna Chapman Series and an Elizabeth Chadwick Historical Novel but looking through my Library I would say its about 60 /40 in favour of Female Writers.

Uriah Robinson said...

I was surprised to discover that the last twelve books I have read were written by men. I am ashamed but at least the last one was co-translated by a woman. I do have Camilla Lackberg, Andrea Maria Schenkel, Ann Cleeves and Mari Jungstedt on my TBR shelf [thier books not them unfortuantely] so I plead mitigation.

Kerrie said...

An interesting observation Bernadette. The fact that they used female pseudonyms- did they think women wouldn't read romance by a male writer?

Kerrie said...

I'm a bit like you Dani - I don't choose my books according to the gender of the author, but in some ways the type of book influences the likelihood of the writer being a particular gender.

Kerrie said...

Good to meet you heartbeatoz. Don't think I've read any Elizabeth Chadwick yet

Kerrie said...

Do you think you are more likely to find thrillers written by men, and murder mysteries by women Norman?

John Baker said...

Three of the last five; though I don't think in gender terms when I'm browsing books or titles to read. The gender is nowhere near as important as if the person can write or not:
Clock Without Hands by Carson McCullers
Borderliners by Peter Høeg
Runaway by Alice Munro
Netherland by Joseph O’Neill
A Lost Lady by Willa Cather


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