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Women on Best-of SF/F Lists, Again

The latest entry in the area of "readers vote for the best of science fiction and fantasy books" lists is brought to you by NPR. The call for nominations went out in June, and the official list of nominees was released today. If you're interested in voting, you can do so here.

Whenever confronted with a list like this, I almost always have the same first thought: "Where are the women?" So I downloaded the list, and did a little number crunching. My next thought was to compare these results to the Tor.com poll I posted about earlier this year. It's difficult to compare directly, for lots of reasons -- the NPR list is curated and all-time, while the Tor.com data comes straight from the reader nominations, no filter, and only covers the last decade (2000-2010). On the other hand, the NPR poll has stricter genre rules: no horror, no paranormal romance, and no YA, and those exclusions cut out a lot of prolific women right off the bat (no Anne Rice, no Charlaine Harris, no J.K. Rowling). So, lots of factors at work here, and if I were better at statistical analysis, I would be better able to account for them, but I'm strictly an amateur here. ;)

Okay, caveats done; what did we learn?

  • Out of 237 books/series on the list, 52 were written by women, or 22%

  • Out of 167 authors with at least one book nominated, 37 are women, which is also 22%

  • At first glance, the Tor.com percentages look better: 41% of the authors nominated were women, and 38% of the nominated books were written by women. But only 24% of the top 50 books in the Tor.com poll had women authors or co-authors. Since I don't know how many books were culled from the NPR nominations to make the official list, it's hard to say which is the more relevant number to compare.


So for now, not much to say, really. I just wanted to put this on the radar. With luck, I should have something more thoughtful when the poll is done. Watch this space.

This entry is also posted at http://owlmoose.dreamwidth.org/542859.html. There are currently comments on DW.

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