In the case of Gender and Diversity I’m going to report the facts while avoiding commentary, opinion or analysis.
I know this isn’t particularly brave on my part, but I’m not willing to draw conclusions based on one year’s worth of award data. That’s not to say some clear conclusions can’t be drawn. The stats, as you’ll see, do lean a certain way – especially in regard to genre and diversity – but just for the moment I’m going to let the statistics speak from themselves. If they spark conversation, all the better.
Let’s begin with the overall figure including duplicated books (that is the novels that appears on more than one list).
154 books – 79 Male / 75 Female (51% vs 49%)
Now if we take out the duplicated novels and only count them once we get the following:
108 books – 56 Male / 52 Female (52% vs 48%).
So only a very slight change in the distribution.
Things get a crapload more interesting when we do the Genre / Literary split. For this I’m not going to consider duplicates, in other words the figures here will be drawn from the 108 unique novels rather than the overall figure of 154.
Genre – 62 books, 38 Male / 24 Female (61% vs 39%)
Literary – 46 books, 18 Male / 28 Female (39% vs 61%)
But, I hear you cry, you’ve counted the Bailey Prize in your analysis and that only nominates literary books written by women. Fine. Here are the figures without the Bailey Prize.
Literary – 40 books, 18 Male / 22 Female (45% vs 55%)
In conclusion, while the overall figures show a close to equal split in terms of gender, this is most definitely not the case when we divide the books between Literary and Genre fiction (even without the Bailey Prize). Why is this the case? Again, I don’t feel confident enough to answer that question – but it does look like that you’re more likely to be exposed to a female voice if you’re reading literary fiction compared to genre.
I should point out that my analysis doesn’t include Young Adult novels – other one Locus award category. Others, with more expertise in YA fiction can explore whether an award like the Andre Norton has better female representation. A very quick look at the last couple of years would seem to indicate that this is the case.
This is a very, VERY basic analysis of diversity given that I’m only looking only at people of colour (POC) – non-white writers. I’ve tried to ensure accuracy when determining an author’s cultural background though I’m aware that making such assumptions is controversial and treacherous waters. Consequently, I’m not willing to put my hand on my heart and say that the figures below are 100% accurate. Though, I think they’re pretty close.
I’m skipping straight to the overall (unique) figures, that is only counting a book once.
108 books – 18 POC (16%)
And now the Literary and Genre split
Genre – 62 books, 5 POC (8%)
Literary – 46 books, 13 POC (28%)
The figures are low no-matter how you cut it. But if you’re a person of colour than your chances are more than tripled in terms of featuring on a literary awards list than a genre award.
In genre we know there’s an issue of diversity in terms of the publication and promotion of novels by people of colour. Again, why this is the case is not something I feel confident enough to comment on. But by the by these are the five books by a POC that were nominated for an award:
- Elysium – Jennifer Marie Brissett
- The Three Body Problem – Liu Cixin
- Confessions – Kanae Minato
- Lagoon – Nnedi Okorafor
- The People in the Trees – Hanya Yanagihara
On the above, I’m more than happy to make the raw stats available if anyone wants to check my figures.