My initial thought for this blog post, go a different route, interview one of your published science teachers! Sounds great in theory doesn’t it? My research teacher right now Dr. Artemenko has multiple papers published on the amoeba Dictyostelium discoideum, focusing on its life cycle and ways of motility at those different stages. This quickly becomes far more complicated than just are women of science or are non white scientists published as much as straight white males? The question of number of students in graduate level science programs comes up, and this varies across countries and is far more complex than a simple blog post could hope to answer.
So instead I decided to sit down in the corner of the 3rd floor dedicated to creative writing, where all those magazines are, and investigate a little. I wanted to see if all those numbers and all those discrepancies that we talked about could be found in the very magazines in our school.
I began with Glimmer Train Issue 93, from the summer of 2015. There were seven female authors to the ten males, which isn’t too bad. That type of difference could simply be a random chance, not caused by a greater issue in the publication world. Could be…
Next I picked up The Briar Cliff Review Volume 24 from 2012. This liteary magazine includes poetry, fiction, nonfiction, Siouxland, book reviews, art and photography. (If you have no idea what Siouxland means you aren’t alone. Looking up one of the two pieces from it, called “The Blushing Fish”, I realized these pieces might be directly about Sioux LAND – as in Minnesota, the Siox River, and Sioux City.) In this entire magazine, there were approximately (if I counted right) 76 pieces. Sadly unlike Glimmer Train which gives brief author bios next to their piece, some names I couldn’t decide which gender they would go with, so five pieces I excluded in my count. The count ended up being 31 female pieces to the 40 male pieces. That’s almost 25% more work published by males than by females.
Comparing these two pieces, ratios of 7:10, and 3:4, a pattern does seem to be present. Seven isn’t much less than ten, could be chance, but when replayed over and over it stops being chance and just starts being how it is. I think one of the reason’s people chose to ignore this issue, is they look at only one piece and only one set of numbers. That’s 30 published women! There’s no way publishers intentionally gave 10 more spots to men, they just submitted better pieces.
One more thing before we go. I know everyone has head of the Harry Potter Franchise. Everyone knows it. But how many people have actually looked into her life? Or heard things about her life? Well there is this amazing movie (that was not authorized by Rowling herself) called Magic Beyond Worlds (that was based on an authorized biography so some it has to be fact right?). There’s this one scene where her editor and publisher finally choose her and they tell her to use her initials, because selling a book as a woman would be hard enough let alone a “children’s book”. This even is supported later on when she gives a reading at a bookstore and a lady is gossiping to her about the “author” who she assumes is a male. Because…why could a woman write so well?
(Well here’s a snippet from the movie showing that scene – skip to 2:30)