Is Employing Men Over Women a Nefarious Plot?

From Digital Pubbing:

Publishing is often considered to be a female job. It revolves around emotional intelligence and creativity. There are a lot of soft skills necessary to work with authors and their pieces of writing. Unfortunately, when the statistics get broken down, the numbers paint a different picture. While there’s a majority of women in the editorial department, the executive positions see fewer women involved.

In 2017, there were only two female CEOs among the top 30 publishers. The pay gap also exists, and it’s a reflection of men taking on higher-level roles. That only proves that even though women are pillars of the publishing industry, men will find their way to the top.

Gender Inequality Among Authors

It’s not the gender inequality burden per se that’s been placed on the authors—it’s a fear of recognition. Many female authors decide to use the male pseudonym to explore what it’s like to publish as a man. That way, they could experience anonymity, reach a male audience, and publish without prejudice.

It seems that nothing has changed since the 19th century when the Bronte sisters published their works under male names. Today, J.K. Rowling is just one example. She used the pen name Robert Galbraith to publish Cormoran Strike novels. However, there seems to be a difference. While female authors of the past feared public judgment and used the new identity as an escape, female authors of today use male pen names to distance themselves from their previous work. Today’s reason seems a tad bit better.

Unconscious Bias and Books

Many female authors felt the pressure of unconscious bias on their skin. Some have sent their manuscript to publishers and received a meager number of responses, but the numbers increased when they used male pen names. Books written by women are also priced 45% less than those written by men.

Fewer women are featured in publications than men, which can be considered strange since women generally buy and read more books. When it comes to purchasing, people are usually inclined to buy books written by their gender. This only means that the readership also expresses unconscious bias.

Link to the rest at Digital Pubbing

PG notes the bio of the author:

As the SEO manager of TeamStage, Tina also relies on her degree in Modern English & Literature to write about the importance of project and team management in executing a successful strategy, top to bottom. Off work, she likes to look for the perfect green curry spots, explore temples in Southeast Asia, and treat herself to cheesecake and matcha latte, in that order.

PG also suggests that J.K. Rowling used the pen name Robert Galbraith for branding and marketing purposes.

J.K.’s name was and is gold in the childrens/YA market. PG suspects that she was likely concerned that, if parents and others automatically purchased the newest J.K. book because their kids loved the last one, book stores would have been inundated with returns as soon as Little Susi/Little Johnnie realized that Hermione and Harry were nowhere to be found. Plus, after listening to Susi and Johnnie’s heartbroken wails of disappointment, the adult book purchaser might have hesitated before picking up the next book with J.K.’s name on the cover.

What is described in the OP as J.K. “distancing” herself from her previous work, a plight that is “a tad bit better” from whatever hellhole to which she would have been condemned in some other, even less-enlightened age is simply additional evidence that J.K. is a very intelligent woman who is smart about managing her publishing career.

As far as the antediluvian nature of the power structure of Big Publishing, PG agrees in a broad sense but points out that female publishing CEOs show no sign of being any less blinkered than their male peers and no reasonably-intelligent 2020 female college graduate is likely to go to work in publishing and suffer through Twentieth-Century wages and working conditions. A degree in Modern English and Literature might possibly condemn one to such a fate, however.

9 thoughts on “Is Employing Men Over Women a Nefarious Plot?”

  1. When it comes to purchasing, people are usually inclined to buy books written by their gender. This only means that the readership also expresses unconscious bias.

    Unconscious? Why? It seems pretty deliberate. What’s the problem?

    And that bio? Is it from the Babylon Bee?

  2. “Books written by women are also priced 45% less than those written by men”

    I always notice stats like this and wonder what’s the source, are they true, what part of the market they apply to, …

    In this case there is a bit of recycling of old surveys involved, and it was in fact discussed on TPV twice (on 23 April and 1 May 2018) where there were some good comments, most notably that the headline 45% falls to 9% when adjusted for genre and, as Felix pointed out, the survey data is not even recent (certainly pre e-books and the Indi revolution).

    And as for Elliot’s correctly pointing out that reader bias is conscious, would you buy a pure romance from a male author who was so ignorant of genre conventions that they didn’t know to use a female – or at least androgynous – pen name? I certainly wouldn’t do so for a new-to-me author. I can’t think of another genre where I even look at the authors sex; I might be a little surprised if a paranormal romance had a male author, but I spent several years buying books by Devon Monk for my wife before I discovered that Devon was not a boy’s name.

  3. Is it okay for me to prefer the writing of one sex over the other? Or is that a case of “as long as you prefer the right sex you can be discriminatory, but if you choose the wrong one then no, you’re not allowed to have preferences.”

    Inquiring minds would like to know.

    • My opinion, MC, is that anyone can prefer whatever they want in the writing and many other worlds. It’s the buyer’s money and the buyer can decide how to spend it (excluding informal markets for the buying and selling of certain narcotic drugs, etc.)

  4. “people are usually inclined to buy books written by their gender. ”

    Personally, I feel you have to be a bit of a chowder head to choose your reading material based on gender, race, religion etc. You end up with a very limited view of fiction and also can read some horrendous material (but it’s by the right type of person so it must be OK).
    Unless I’m searching for a favorite author, I choose my books by the genre and the description and a quick look at the text. If it grabs me, I don’t care who wrote it.

    Also if women are being priced lower, that seems to be a failure by the publisher or the author if it’s indie. Price for the market.

    • Who cares about unit price? What’s the breakdown of total fiction revenue by sex? Profit maximizers will indeed price to the market, and the price will be the one that generates the maximum profit. That’s the unit price such that an increase in unit price results in less profit, and a decrease in price results in less profit.

      If a woman generates maximum profit with a price lower than the average male price, should her publisher raise the unit price so she makes less?

      • One thing we’ve seen with Indie, Inc, is that the different genres have their own pricing sweet spot.
        It does not vary with tbe author’s gender so commingling book data by author gender (or ethnicity) throws away the useful data in favor of meaningless correlations.

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