Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Who writes better - men or women?

[Originally posted on juliaday.tumblr.com]

I’ve been reading a lot of articles on social media recently about who wins the most book awards: men or women. (If you don’t know the answer, it’s men.) 

In one blog post, the blogger/author (Nicola Griffith) had broken down the data further. She wanted to know not only who won prestigious awards but also if the award-winning books had male or female protagonists. Out of the six awards she studied,
  • men won 54% (which is actually kind of decent–but maybe it’s just the six awards the blogger picked)
  • men writers had 19% female main characters
  • female writers had 71% male main characters
So–if this sample is anything to go by, women writers feature male MCs far more often than men writers feature women.

As an added point of interest, one of the awards in this study was the Newbery, awarded to books of children’s fiction. It’s the only prize where women authors fared better than men. When I remove the Newbery data from the analysis (that is, the analysis is about adult book prizes only), the numbers change predictably. 

  • men won 61% of the awards (clearly, the children’s book prizes were skewing our data :) 
  • female authors had 77% male MCs 
  • male authors had 14% female MCs 

I think we can all conclude that, for a female author to have a prayer of winning, adding a male MC is nearly essential. 

Back to my original question: Who is better? (which is different than who wins more awards?) 

Now, I have a confession to make. I don’t know who’s better because I don’t read enough books by male authors to judge. I checked out my books-read-list from the past 12 months.  I finished about 80 books. Two (yes, 2) were by men. 

I can’t remember specifically excluding male authors because they are male. Maybe they just don’t write the genre of books I want to read. But the results show a distinct bias. 

I write YA, so I read a lot of YA last year for research as well as pleasure. But, yep, just one (of those 2 aforementioned books) was by a male YA author. I should branch out. Probably. 


My first YA contemporary romance, The Possibility of Somewhere, will release in September.  I'll use a new pen name for my YA contemporaries--Julia Day. As I move closer to September, I'll begin to use my Julia Day social media accounts more and phase out this blog.  Please consider following me on Julia Day's:

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