Inside the Australian and New Zealand book industry

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2017 Stella Count reveals drop in percentage of women reviewed

The 2017 Stella Count has found that four out of 12 publications surveyed reviewed more books by women than men—the same ratio as 2016’s count—but that the overall percentage of women reviewed has dropped from 48% to 46% since 2016.

Eight out of 12 publications surveyed have seen a drop in the percentage of women authors reviewed compared to the previous year, while the other four publications increased the percentage of women authors reviewed (the Courier Mail, Sydney Review of Books, the West Australian and Books+Publishing).

In their analysis, academics Melinda Harvey from Monash University and Julieanne Lamond from the Australian National University said that the ‘hopeful story’ proposed by the 2016 count—when all publications surveyed either increased or maintained their percentage of women authors reviewed compared with the previous year—now ‘requires some qualification’.

Harvey and Lamond noted that the two publications with the highest circulation—The Age/Sydney Morning Herald and the Australian—have never achieved gender parity in the six years of the Stella Count. They added: ‘it seems that metropolitan papers based outside of the publishing hubs of Sydney and Melbourne are more willing to approach gender parity in their reviews pages’.

When it comes to reviewers, the 2017 count found that the trend of men reviewing books written by men and women reviewing books written by women persists. Across all publications surveyed, the practice of an author’s gender matching a reviewer’s gender remained steady at 65%, with women reviewers responsible for 55% of the coverage of books reviewed. Only four of the twelve publications surveyed have fewer books reviewed by women than by men, but two of these (The Age/Sydney Morning Herald and the Australian) account for 44% of the total number of reviews.

The count also found, consistent with previous years, that male authors continue to dominate the larger reviews (more than 1000 words) and medium reviews (between 300–1000 words), In 2017, 64% of all large reviews were of books by men, up from 59% in 2016.

The annual Stella Count compiles statistics showing how many books by women and men were reviewed in Australian publications and the gender of the reviewers. For the second year, the 2017 Stella Count also surveyed books coverage beyond reviews, including bylines in leading magazines and journals.

A breakdown of this year’s statistics and its analysis can be found on the Stella website.



Category: Local news