Maybe we should all just pretend to be white, straight, men and everything will be fine. Maybe…

Dicty Life Cycle: Starting from amoeboid stage (left worm thing) to stalk with spore (used to survive harsh environment conditions)

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.

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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 whi1briar-cliff-reviewch 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)

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5 thoughts on “Maybe we should all just pretend to be white, straight, men and everything will be fine. Maybe…

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  1. I love the touch of actual statistics and bringing in the view of even J. K. Rowling had an issue. I always just considered her using her initials to be like J. R. R. Tolkien because they both made their own worlds.
    Something to consider might be to add how we might go about getting over this bias of always excluding women, or touch more on the women of color. I think eventually it would be cool to have an interview with your science professor as well and see about the difference in publishing scientific articles compared to more literature based materials.

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  2. Hey Maggie,

    I really like your blog post! I think you did a lot of research and really took the time to be a detective and look for these issues. Not to mention you brought in J.K. Rowling and she is just amazing. For more research, maybe you can look at the sales of women writers who have their full name on display and ones, like J. K. Rowling, who use initials to kind of hide their names. You can even go further and see what sales are like for men versus women. It’d be really interesting to see.

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  3. Your post seems a little bit unfinished. Unfortunately I can’t watch the video at the time of writing this comment, and maybe that would have helped to round out the post a bit, but I still feel like some kind of more concrete conclusion would have been better. Yeah, it’s relevant that even JK Rowling was told that she might be less published because she’s a she, but I’d like to hear a bit more on your opinion of the state of things, rather than just someone else’s declaration, or video.

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  4. It was good to see that you took the time to do some research here on the home front. There was something I was a bit confused about though. When you said, “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.” did you actually look at more than the two publications that you specifically mentioned and find a 7:10 ratio in others? Or were you extrapolating data based on the two publications for which you provided hard numbers? Since you didn’t mention any more specific titles, I was a little confused as to just how far the research went. I might be inclined to agree with you if 7:10 is being seen across the board, but I wasn’t sure if such a ratio had actually been found elsewhere.

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  5. You pick up on three interesting threads, here: women publishing in the sciences, equity in literary journals found here on campus, and the way authors are perceived based on gender. I think any one of these would make a compelling post! I encourage you to come back to this and zero in on one of these topics (I confess I’m interested in science publishing, since we haven’t otherwise seen that on the blog!). That said, you might be able to organize all three threads all more clearly into a single piece with an overarching theme (even explicitly stating that you’re considering women writers in science, literary publishing, and children’s lit. could help). Bottom line: productive start, but we need a bit more focus.

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