Inside the Australian and New Zealand book industry

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The Stella Count: 2012 gender and reviewing stats revealed

Last year, Books+Publishing compiled Australian statistics showing how many women and men were reviewed in local newspapers and literary journals in 2011. This year the Stella Prize, in conjunction with Books+Publishing, has compiled Australian statistics for 2012.

The 2012 red and blue pie charts, which are modelled on those produced by US-based organisation VIDA, reveal that a significantly higher proportion of books by male authors were reviewed than books by female authors. The statistics are remarkably similar to those from 2011.

Chair of the Stella Prize Aviva Tuffield told Books+Publishing that she wasn’t surprised by the results. ‘As we’ve learnt over the past few years from VIDA’s statistics for their count of the leading US and UK literary journals, the statistics don’t change quickly, or much at all. Some Australian media have improved their gender balance in terms of the number of books written by women versus men that they review, but others have slightly deteriorated. Overall, there’s not much change, which is what we have surmised impressionistically by reading the literary pages of the newspapers and literary magazines regularly.’

Tuffield said the statistics show that ‘there is still work to be done to make literary editors and beyond more aware of their unconscious biases and to raise awareness of the disparity in the gender of the authors of the books they review’.

Notes on the data: anthologies and other books with both male and female authors were excluded from this count. Every effort has been made to ensure these statistics are accurate, and any publication for which we were unable to obtain sufficient or reliable data this year has been excluded from the count. However, there is always a risk of human error.

With thanks to 2012 Stella Count coordinator Kate Goldsworthy and Dominic Keating.