Women's Writing World Woes

This story was originally published in Newcastle Mirage

When you think about the world of writing names such as George R.R Martin, J.K Rowling, J. R. R Tolkien or E.L James (the lady who wrote Fifty Shade of Grey) may come to mind. Considering half of those names are females you may think women are represented pretty well in the writing industry, but such is not the case.

As author Wendy James notes, men hold most of the top jobs despite women having a bigger foothold overall.

Men still dominate as heads of publishing companies, for instance, even though women actually outnumber men working in the industry. Tabloids' big gun literary critics/reviewers tend to be male too.”

Looking at those spearheading some of the top publishing houses we see an obvious trend. The current CEO of Penguin Random House is Markus Dohle, the CEO of Hachette is David Young and the CEO of HarperCollins is Brian Murray.

A recent study carried out by Dr Julieanne Lamond from the Australian National University and Dr Melinda Harvey of Monash University, found that despite two-thirds of published authors in our country being women, men wrote two-thirds of books actually reviewed. This is something that Newcastle author, Joyce Morgan, has also noticed during her career.

“Although there are many excellent women writers, male writers have a higher profile and are more widely acknowledged and recognised. As recently as 2009 and 2011, the Miles Franklin Award had all-male shortlists.”

While these days women may not be publishing under male names, Joyce feels they are still trying to hide their gender.

Thriller writer L.A. Larkin uses her initials rather than her first name, Louisa. From her initials, it is unclear what the writer's gender is. I suspect it is still easier to be published as a male in certain genres and readers are more willing to buy a book written by a man than a woman.”

While as a nation our embracing of women writers may be lacking, as a city, it seems Newcastle is picking up some of the slack. This is something that local poet and co-owner of The Press Bookhouse Café, Ivy Ireland, has noticed.

One of the biggest events for 2017 in our small venue here in Newcastle was our International Women's Day poetry reading which was entirely devoted to the reading of works by female poets. We could not accommodate everyone who turned up to listen. Newcastle has an amazingly supportive writing community considering (or maybe because of) its small size”.

It’s this celebration of women in the industry and awareness raised by the feminist movement that Ivy believes is helping bring this issue to the forefront.

“I think promotion of women's writing and events featuring female writers/thinkers and publishers is always key to any positive change. I think the feminist movement has been so important and imperative to all change in this area. Many amazing women in publishing houses, on arts councils, etc, have worked tirelessly to ensure that female voices are being heard.”

What's your opinion?

  1. So many of my favourite books have been written by women! But I know that so many of the "important" books written are by men. It's sad to think women don't get the same recognition

    Laura || www.thelifeoflaura.com.au xx

  2. How disappointing! I don't read a lot but women certainly have just as much to say and just as much talent in the writing and publishing world as men do!


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