If this topic is something that interests you, I highly recommend doing some research. The world of gender disparity may seem repetitive at times, but with a little research (or in my case a lot), you can really find the pieces of this current debate that speak to you and make you want to take action. Below are the sources I found that really helped me delve into this project, many of which spoke to me both academically and personally.

A.C. “Contemporary fiction: The death of chick lit?” The Economist. 2012.

Baker, Katie J. M. “Want to Be a Successful Writer? Be a Man.” Jezebel. 2012.

Brown, Amber. Email interview with Assistant Manager of Main Point Books. May 16, 2016.

Buzwell, Greg. “Daughters of decadence: the New Woman in the Victorian find de siècle.” British Library. 2016.

Calix, Lillian. “We Need Diverse Books at BookCon 2015.” New York Public Library. 2015.

Caplan-Bricker, Nora. “New Survey Confirms Straight White Women’s Domination of Book Publishing.” Slate. 2016.

Chappell, Warren. A Short History of the Printed Word. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, Inc, 1970.

Cohen, Stefanie. “Why Women Writers Still Take Men’s Names.” Wall Street Journal. 2012.

“Cover Story: 50 Top Women in Book Publishing.” Book Business. 2009.

Cox, Erin L. “On Being a Woman In Publishing.” Publishing Perspectives. 2015.

Criser, Starla. “PEN NAMES: Pros and Cons.” From Rubbish to Publish. 2015.

Dee, Thomas S. “The Why Chromosome.” Education Next 6, no. 4 (2006): 69-75.

Desta, Yohana. “A brief history of female authors with male pen names.” Mashable. 2015.

Diniejko, Dr. Andrzej. “The New Woman Fiction.” The Victorian Web. 2011.

Enders, Erin. “7 Reasons We Shouldn’t Write Off ‘Chick Lit” and ‘Women’s Fiction.” Bustle. 2014.

Engdahl, Sylvia. “How Genre Labeling Keeps Some Books from Being Discovered.” Indies Unlimited. 2013.

“English Language and Literature.” Yale College Programs of Study. November 22, 2016.

Fernando, Lloyd. “New Women” in the Late Victorian Novel. University Park: The Pennsylvania State University Press, 1977.

Finkelstein, David and Alistair McCleery. The Book History Reader. London: Routledge, 2002.

Flood, Alison. “Coverflip: author Maureen Johnson turns tables on gendered book covers.” the guardian. 2013.

Flood, Alison. “Self-publishing lets women break book industry’s glass ceiling, survey finds.” the guardian. 2015.

Flood, Alison. “Yale English students call for end of focus on white male writers.” the guardian. 2016.

Forna, Aminatta. “Aminatta Forna: don’t judge a book by its author.” the guardian. 2015.

Friedman, Jane. “Do Men Receive Bigger Book Advanced than Women?” Scratch Magazine. 2015.

“Genres.” Lit Rejections. 2016.

Gregory, Julia. “Women and Power.” Women in Journalism. 2016.

Hensch, Kathryn. “10 Incredible Quotes From the Awe-Inspiringly Wise Writer Alex Elle.” BUST.

Harris, Joanne. Email interview with author. May 23, 2016.

Harris, Sharon M. American Women Writers to 1800. New York: Oxford University Press, 1996.

Harrison, Mette Ivie. “Writing Characters of the Opposite Gender.” Chopsticks. 2012.

Holmes, Linda. “Women Are Not Marshmallow Peeps, And Other Reasons There’s No ‘Chick Lit.’ NPR. 2010.

Institute for Women’s Leadership, Rutgers University. “Faculty Diversity in Higher Education.” The Chronicle of Higher Education Almanac, 2006-2007.

Janes, Hilly. “Women and social media: friend or foe?” Women in Journalism. 2016.

Krupnick, Catherine G. “Women and Men in the Classroom: Inequality and Its Remedies.” On Teaching and Learning. 1985.

Ledger, Sally and Roger Luckhurst. The Fin De Siècle. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000.

Lowther, Tricia. “Children’s Books Still Promote Gender Stereotypes.” New Republic. 2014.

Lyons, Martyn. Books A Living History. Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2011.

Mays, Dorothy A. Women in Early America: Struggle, Survival, and Freedom in a New World Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO Inc, 2004.

McFadden, Syreeta. “What People are Saying about VIDA.” VIDA. 2016.

Mourik, Orli Van. “Publishing and Prejudice: 5 Feamle Writers Weigh in on Sexism in the Literary World.” Brooklyn Based. 2013.

Naughton, Julie. “Yes, Virgil, There Are Men Writing Romance: Focus on Romance 2012.” Publisher’s Weekly. 2012.

Oswell, Paul. “Meet the male writers who hide their gender to attract female readers.” the guardian. 2015.

“Pay Equity & Discrimination.” Institute For Women’s Policy Research. 2010.

“Pen and Brush History.” Pen and Brush. 2016.

Petrocelli, William. “Who Needs Publishers & Bookstores? Writers, Readers & Everyone Else. Huffington Post. 2012.

Rose, Phyllis. The Norton Book of Women’s Lives. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1993.

Russ, Joanna. To Write Like a Woman. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1995.

Russell, Victoria. “Pen Names and Female Writers.” Blooming Twig. 2015.

Sands, Janice. “Self Publishing Platforms: Women’s Playground or Last Resort?” Huffington Post. 2015.

Shah, Purvi. “The Unbearable (White) Maleness of US Poetry: And How We Can Enable a Structural Response to Literary Yellowface and Gender Inequity. In Publishing.” VIDA. 2015.

Smithsonian National Postal Museum. “Women in Postal History.” Women in the US Postal Museum.

Teeter, Robert. “The Western Canon by Harold Bloom.”

Vogel, Rachel. Email interview with creator of PLUS Women. June 22, 2016.

Weeks, Linton. “5 Best-Selling Female Writers You May Not Have Heard Of.” NPR. 2015.

Werber, Cassie. “There’s a gender gap in prize-winning literature-no between the authors, but the characters.” Quartz. 2015.

Whitehead, Andrew. Email interview with Production Manager of Rathalla Review. May 6, 2016.

“Why do the best jobs go to men? Eleanor Mills writes in the British Journalism Review. ”Women in Journalism. 2016.

“Why The OpEd Project? (Interview with Katie Orenstien).” The OpEd Project.

Willens, Michele. “The Mixed Results of Male Authors Writing Female Characters.” The Atlantic. 2013.

“Women with a Deadline.” National Women’s History Museum. 2007.


Future of Publishing & Moving Forward

Many believe we have already moved forward in our industry, and in many cases such as technology and spreading the ability to read, we have. However, gender and diversity are still not where they should be. So how do we continue to evolve?

  • Remove gender stereotyping
    • Don’t judge a book by its author
    • Remove labels
      • Boy/girl labels can lead to damaging self-image and social acceptance
      • Genre labels limit authors
  • Promote support and mentorship
    • Groups promoting community
      • OpEd
      • VIDA
      • Pen and Brush
    • Why mentorships?

Present of Publishing Part 3

Now that we have discussed some of the types of diversity when discussing publishing, it is important to look at what may be aiding in the misrepresentation of gender in the industry. A few to consider are: labels, book covers, and pen names.

    • Chick Lit
      • When it comes to labels, one of the most damaging for female authors is the label of their work as “Chick Lit.”
      • “The term chick lit increasingly makes me feel like I’m being compared to a marshmallow peep just for reading books by and about women.”-Linda Holmes
      • Chick lit became a large hit when books such as Bridget Jones’Diary hit the shelves particularly because of her search for relationships.
      • If the term isn’t going away,then we must redefine it-Erin Enders
  • Book Covers
    • Book covers affect readership
    • Meant to clue a reader into what is on the inside-Andrew Whitehead
    • What does a gendered book cover look like?
      • Does the gendered book cover deceive readers?
    • Book covers that defy the gendered stereotype
      • Angela Carter’s The Bloody Chamber
      • Maureen Johnson’s Coverflip
  • Pen Names:
    • history of pen names
    • Why use pen names?
      • create enough mystery for readers to look past gender
      • Men reading women/women reading men
        • JK Rowling
      • Romance- Male author’s need for pen names
        • Brindle Chase



Present of Publishing Part 1

Despite publishing having a long history, which I have already outlined in a previous post, the present is one of the most important times for the industry and therefore, cannot be limited to one post. Below, I have outlined some of the aspects of today’s society that I believe are impacting the way gender is received including education, industry, and diversity (which will be covered in part 2) as a whole.

    • The books taught in the classroom have the potential to either negate or further promote the gender divide.
    • The gender of professors teaching English and Reading courses at colleges and universities affects the way learners relate to the gender of the authors and the characters they are reading
    • Institute for Women’s Leadership at Rutger’s University faculty diversity study
    • For female students, the lack or limited amount of female professors has a direct effect.
      • “Because of this, teachers must be wary of their subtle communication differences and academic expectations of girls and boys because they can become self-fulfilling biased expectations”(The Why Chromosome).
    • The publishing industry is a business, and therefore, its first job first and foremost is to make money. Therefore, if male authors, editors, businessmen etc are more received by the industry’s audience, the publishing industry is most likely to side with them over their female colleagues.
    • While gender in some cases is expediting women to the forefront, such as in the Romance genre, it can also be a setback.
    • The gender pay gap is a prime example of how gender setbacks are reflected in the industry, and how women are having to fight a harder road to reach success.

Present of Publishing Part 2


  • Sexism and diversity are not one sided. Diversity is meant to open our eyes to more than one story, whether that is a female or male story.
  • Within our industry, diversity is found in many ways including: author diversity,company diversity,genre diversity,publication diversity, and award diversity.
    • Author Diversity
      • Author diversity is not solely up to publishing houses.Authors have their own responsibility in creating diverse books by diverse authors.
        •  “creating diverse books is about creating multidimensional characters with many characteristics and aspects, whether rooted in age, race, religion, sex, or gender, which allow them to relate to many different readers who are a part of many different groups. It has to be thoughtful and meaningful.”
        • Responsibility in representation of diverse characters is very important so that diverse books do not do more harm than good.
        • Diverse authors mean distinct books, which means reaching the greatest amount of readers and the most diverse population of readers. Diverse books must be genuine and written with an accuracy that blurs the line between fiction and real life, creating books that speak to their readers’ everyday lives.
    • Gender Gap and Pay Diversity
      • Diversity, and more so gender, affects authors’ ability to be signed and find equality in compensation and representation.
      • Joanne Harris Interview
        • “When I was signed, it was alongside another then unknown male author, whose advance was four-times the sum of mine. My book went number one in the bestseller chart; His book never charted at all. Nevertheless, his promotion budgets were always significantly higher than mine, and his media profile was always high whereas media reactions to my success were mostly on the lines of ‘woman’s author’s Cinderella story.”
      • Ten Tweets series
        • Harris, with the help of Kat Brown at The Telegraph, released ten tweets from her #TenTweets series in which she focuses ten messages on a theme about the industry to spark conversation
        • Such occurrences revealed include: only being spoken to on a radio show when the female presenter was available, a rejection due to “lack of visual appeal”, men at academic parties quoted as never reading books by women, female writing being solely compared to Fifty Shades of Grey, and lastly the ever focus of women body image and motherhood.
    • Company Diversity
      • What does it mean to have company diversity?
        • “the dearth of minority employees directly affects the types of books published.”
    • Genre and Canon Diversity
      • What does literary canon mean?
        • any reference to literary canon will refer to the collection of works by which other works are measured in terms of skill and value.
        • When thinking about the literary canon, think about what you read in high school and what you read in college in your English classes. What was considered “literary” or “scholarly” work?
      • “We do live in a patriarchy and that means that the “classic” novels that are assigned reading from elementary school through college are written mostly by men (Jane Austen being the main exception). These books star mostly male characters with female minor characters.”-Mette Ivie Harrison
      • “Books by women, about women (and all variations of diversity) need to get as much exposure as books about men, by men.”
    • Reading List and Course Diversity
      • “Yale English students call for end of focus on white male writers.”
      • Yale undergraduate course offerings
        • expected vs unexpected authors
    • Review and Award Diversity
      • of the six female authors to win a Pulitzer Prize between 2000 and 2015, half wrote primarily from the perspective of a male character.
      • “between 2000 and 2015, not a single book length fiction work from a woman’s perspective or about a woman was considered worthy of a Pulitzer Prize.”
    • Topic Diversity
      • Men need to be writing fiction about women and about men, but more importantly they need to be reading fiction by women and men. They need to be able to write from a female point of view as successfully as they are writing from a male point of view.
      • The divide is still prevalent when a male protagonist story is labeled fiction, yet a story written by a female about a female protagonist is labeled as “women’s fiction.”
      • “Authors who write about their own gender use their internal experience and speak from the inside out. When they write about the opposite sex, their perspectives have to shift – from the outside in. Neither is necessarily better, but rather, they try different points of view. I think most writers see capturing the opposite sex as an ultimate goal and triumph.”

Past of Publishing

    • Education for women has not always been accessible
    • Many women were placed into the role of educator because they were not seen as having any other skill sets worthy of the workforce, nor were they wanted in the workforce by their male spouses or their fathers.
    • Literacy and reading greatly affected the role they were able to play when compared to male citizens.
    • There are books out there featuring women, but the women portrayed are not always realistic representations for the reader.
    • Depictions of women in literature such as damsels in distress and femme fatales are what men see women as. They are images of women rather than the true embodiment of women.
    • True role models can be found not only in the characters found in literature, but the women who wrote the “rich female experience.”
    • Cornelia Bradford
      • Succeeded her husband in 1742 at American Weekly Mercury
      • Needed little aid to make the newspaper a success
      • Immersed herself in all aspects of publishing including typesetting, story selection,solicitation, and advertising.
    • Mary Goddard
      • First to publish the Declaration of Independence in 1777
      • Gained this honor after recognition for excellent printing and publishing from 1774-1784 of The Maryland Journal, her brother’s newspaper
    • Elizabeth Mallet
      • Founder of a publication without any familial influence
      • Began the Daily Current in 1702 and with her partner Samuel Buckley became known for journalistic integrity for 30 years.
    • The exclusion of the above ladies from publishing books causes one to wonder if the exclusion is solely due to gender and what their limited recognition did to the material produced throughout history.
      • “The final two decades of the Victorian era witnessed the beginning of a shift in social attitudes regarding gender relations.”-Dr.Andrzej Diniejko
      • The literature that corresponds with the movements, the author focused on “highlighting her [his] own aspirations, but also served as a mirror to reflect the attitudes of society [and the female reader].