Why do we need a day to celebrate and recognize women’s accomplishments? All I have to do is look through the floor to ceiling bookcases in my office to know why. Most of the books are by men. Most of the history books are by men. Most of the textbooks are by men. Most of the novels are by men.
But surely that’s changed? Ruth Franklin of the New Republic looked at the number of books by men versus women published by major book publishers.
Here are a few of her percentages of books written by women [Note these statistics are from 2010 and do not include genre books.]:
- Riverhead 55%
- Random House 37%
- Norton 30%
- Little, Brown 30%
- Harper 30%
- Knopf 23%
- FSG 21%
- Harvard University 15%
The lower percentages published and acknowledged means that fewer books by women are reviewed or win prizes.
Now I will admit that these numbers may be a bit skewed. The largest book market is genre romance, and I can guarantee that if you hit the romance shelves in my library, you will find hundreds of women authors and nary a man. So why weren’t romance authors counted above? Because they are women who write for women and therefore don’t count as literary works. So even when they write, most women writers don’t get counted.
Now there is no logical reason for women to write fewer books than men. Men and women are both equipped to hold a pen, tap on a keyboard, and spill their guts and imaginations. But every woman I’ve featured on this blog no matter when she lived or wrote would know the answer to why we need to have a day dedicated to women…
But hey, wait a minute. This problem is not going away any time soon. One day won’t do it. One week won’t do it. One month won’t do it. We need a whole year, a whole life time, a whole forever!
What is the biggest obstacle for women writers?