I’ve already written about innovative social media campaigns such as #Readwomen2014, created because talented, female authors are largely ignored by mainstream literary journals. I also read excellent sites such as The Writes of Women and VIDA , both of which bring attention to/promote equality for female writers.
I’ve followed debate about why movements like #Readwomen2014 and The Bailey’s Prize (formerly known as The Orange Prize)- an annual literary prize celebrating female authors- are unnecessary in today’s gender-blind literary world. I’ve chuckled, ignored the claims that women do not need this extra attention to level the playing field, and continued on with my day.
And then a prestigious longlist is published – such as the Man Booker Prize 2014- and out of 13 authors selected, only a pathetic 3 are women.
So, what went wrong?
There are plenty of explanations. It isn’t only the judges, the system only allows publishing houses to submit a small amount of titles (based on how many of their novels have been longlisted in the past).
While this certainly takes pressure off the judges shouldering all the blame, I don’t think the explanation does anything to assuage fears that this is a system seemingly stacked against female authors. One would presume that publishing houses choose authors they assume have the best chance of being longlisted.
After a 10/3 gender split in 2014, how many publishing houses are going to be chomping at the bit to submit female authors for consideration in 2015?
I, for one, won’t be waiting for the announcement of the Booker Prize in October.
I do, however, hope that #Readwomen2014 will be extended to 2015, and I do look forward to next year’s Bailey Prize longlist.
Clearly, for as long as lists like this are being produced, women authors need all the help and support they can get.