Gender inequality in the Scottish literary sector
25 July 2019
ROAR (Represent, Object, Advocate, Rewrite) has
launched a new
website, sharing first research findings that show that gender
inequality in the Scottish literary sector is structural and
persistent. The group, which was formed in 2016, is working to
combat inequality in Scottish writing and publishing. With members
from Scottish PEN, Creative Scotland, Scottish Book Trust,
Waterstones, Glasgow Women's Library and more, ROAR represents
voices from within the literary sector.
ROAR reveals new findings by doctoral researcher, Christina Neuwirth: Women of Words:
Gender equality in contemporary writing and publishing in Scotland.
The research is funded by Arts and Humanities Research Council and
Scottish Graduate School for Arts and Humanities.
In 2018, Scotland celebrated Muriel Spark's work in what would
have been the year of her 100th birthday; the Scottish £5 note has
sported a portrait of female writer Nan Shepherd since 2016.
However, this analysis indicates that more needs to be done to
achieve equality in the visibility and value assigned to women in
The research, covering the period January to December 2017,
found that only 37% of authors whose books were published in
Scotland were women (14.5% lower than the general population). The
genre in which women fared the worst was non-fiction about
Scotland: only 4 women were published in 2017, compared to 30 men.
In the thriller, mystery and crime genre, double the number of men
were published compared to women, and for the humour and sports
books category, no women were published at all.
There were only three genres where women were more represented
than men: literary narrative non-fiction, where 9 women were
published compared to 1 man; and romance fiction, with 11 women
authors and 3 male authors. In Scotland, children's literature and
historical fiction were the most balanced genres, with 40 women and
37 men being published in children's books, and 5 men and 5 women
published in historical fiction.
Scottish media coverage of literature was also analysed by the
study, and revealed that in 2017, national newspapers The Herald
and The Scotsman published reviews of 604 authors' books: 65% of
authors reviewed were men, and 35% were women. Disparity was even
greater in the number of reviews: 86% of reviews were written by
men, and 14% by women. Of all reviews, 58% were reviews of male
authors' books, written by male reviewers. In direct contrast, 7%
of all book reviews that year were women's books reviewed by
Book festivals in Scotland fared better and were found to be
more representative of gender compared to publication or media
coverage. In 2017, Aye Write, Bloody Scotland and Edinburgh
International Book Festival hosted events with 1,392 authors, and
44% of all authors appearing at these festivals were women. Of
these, 461 were solo author events, in which the representation of
women writers dropped to 38%. Book festivals were the only area of
the sector in which non-binary authors were represented in 2017,
making up 0.4% of all programmed authors.
Research is still ongoing, and ROAR aims to publish an account
of gender equality in Scottish literary culture every year, as a
starting point for affecting change.
More information can be found at www.roar.scot.
For information and comment, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org