Where are all the top women writers?


FORGET Larry Summers, the whole women and math brain thing. This isn’t about men dominating women in math and science.

We’re talking here about writing, language, the place where anti-feminist men are still kvetching that they are discriminated against, that girls in school have an unfair advantage for being “girly” and enjoying books.

Yes, we’re talking about books. And about Publisher’s Weekly, once heralded as THE address for the book and publishing industry, where men are not just dominating, but completely excluding women.

The New York Times reports that:

In its issue of November 2, Publishers Weekly compiled its Top 10, a decidedly subjective ranking of the best fiction and non-fiction published in 2009.

The list included the biography Cheever: A Life by Blake Bailey; the novel Await Your Reply by Dan Chaon; and the graphic novel Stitches by David Small.

But as The Guardian reports, the ranking has drawn protests from a women’s literary group, which notes that there are no female writers on the list.

Cate Marvin, a founder of the group Women in Letters and Literary Arts, told The Guardian: “The absence made me nearly speechless.”

She added: “It continues to surprise me that literary editors are so comfortable with their bias toward male writing, despite the great and obvious contributions that women authors make to our contemporary literary culture.”

Sexism is not about brain differences or biology. It’s about power and decision-making in the halls of power. This is what women continue to go through.

I think it’s time for women to boycott Publishers Weekly.

American-born Elana Sztokman lives in Modi’in in Israel with her Australian-born husband Jacob and their four children. She is a lecturer in education at the Schechter Institute for Jewish Studies. From 2002-05 she worked in Australia as Educational Director of JNF Victoria and also lectured at the Florence Melton Adult Mini School. She blogs at blog.elanasztokman.com