KJ (owlmoose) wrote,

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Tor.com poll follow-up

I always meant to get back to the Tor.com poll on the best SF/F books of the decade that I posted about a little while back, but it took awhile for them to compile the results and then the topic fell off my radar. So anyway, they released the final top ten about a week ago. Two books by women were among the finalists: Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susannah Clarke, one of the top ten from the beginning, and Kushiel's Dart by Jacqueline Carey, which benefited from a last-minute surge.

If you check out the entry above, there are several entries analyzing various voting patterns. Tor also provides a Google spreadsheet with the complete data, but that is more than I want to mess with right now. Maybe another day. Anyway, as you might expect, the stats post I'm most interested in discussing here is the one that breaks down the votes by the author's gender. It's worth reading the whole thing, but here are the highlights:

  • 41% of the authors who received at least one vote were women

  • 38% of the books that received at least one vote were written by women

  • 24% of the books in the top 50 were written or co-written by women

  • 12% of the books that received at least 100 votes were written or co-written by women (3/18)

  • 44% of the books in the top 50 have a female protagonist or at least one major female viewpoint character

I might argue with their results on that last point, since I'm not convinced that books with mixed-gender ensemble casts (like the Song of Ice and Fire books) ought to count. As one of the first commenters on the post points out, ensemble casts also include men. As well, many of the books marked on that list have co-protagonists (such The Time Traveller's Wife); they are about women, but they are also about men. The commenter's similar analysis on the percentage of books with male protagonists ends up with a count of 46/50 -- a staggering 92%! Which makes that 44% look much less encouraging.

Still, the patterns among the authors honored are interesting, and it's not surprising that we find fewer women as we go higher on the list. On the other hand, I like seeing the list as a whole approaching 50/50. It would be interesting to see how the gender breakdown would look on similar lists from the 1990s, 1980s, etc., as well as to see how it trends in the future. Especially in light of the (record?) high number of women garnering Nebula nominations this year.

This entry is also posted at http://owlmoose.dreamwidth.org/518756.html. There are currently comment count unavailable comments on DW.
Tags: books, feminism, the media

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