gender gap

Today, it seems, is a day I am going to be easily irritated.

So PW blogs about the gender gap among publishing employees:

“In PW’s recent Salary Survey (Aug. 2) one statistic stuck out: 85% of employees with less than three years of experience in the industry are women. So, while everyone knows there are more women than men working in this business, that statistic raises the question: is an almost all-female publishing industry bad for business? Does it matter?”

The article goes on to suggest that acquisitions might be affected, that women might start acquiring women-only books, and the literature of America will suffer because of gender imbalance! Dear lord, protect us from the females and their girly taste!

Thank you, PW, for bringing up the gender gap issue and missing the key point (or at least, what is for me the key point). It lies in those words “with less than three years of experience.” Because the statistic doesn’t hold–women are not promoted and advanced the way men are. I won’t rattle off my own personal evidence here, but I don’t even need to–the article goes on to obliquely reference the fact:

“As our salary survey indicated, women make on average $64,600 compared to men, $105,130.”

So coincidentally, although there is a 4:1 (or higher) ratio among entry-level publishing professionals, as an industry AVERAGE men are obviously in much higher-paid positions of power? In order to make up for the incredible discrepancy at one end of that spectrum and end up at the incredible discrepancy at the other, exactly how much glass-ceiling oppression and old-boy promotion must be accomplished? A lot. Just … a whole heck of a lot.

And you want to talk about unfairness? And people are seriously making noise about the possibility that there might not be enough books for men (?!?) acquired?

Just a little side note. We editors, male or female, must acquire what makes money. This is part of the glass ceiling. The gender of an editor does not always match the gender of the money, FYI.

I actually had to step out and buy myself a hot chocolate after reading this. Blargh.

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5 Responses to gender gap

  1. emilycross says:

    I’m actually examining gender and leadership as part of my PhD. I’m glad you zoomed in on the three years experience thing! This kind of oversight can be seen in so many ways – for example, in a article examining leadership in nonprofits, stats showed that overall there is higher % of women ceos/directors than men. But still when you look closer at the stats – women are ceos more than men in charities worth less than 5 million – anything higher and there are more men on the corporate board – so although overall more women, not in charge of big charities. Similarly there is higher % of women than men in labour force, but many times people forget to highlight that this includes part-time work.

    Statistics can be interpreted many ways – I just wish people would scratch the surface a bit.

    Sidenote: Cannot believe that they think women would skew the world of publishing!

  2. Merry says:


    That’s the first word that pops into mind and it’s annoying as hell that anyone would seriously think women only buy girlie books. wtf. From my experience, women are much more widely read and more likely to read a book about/from the perspective of the opposite sex/class/etc… Men, on the other hand, well, they don’t normally read girlie books, do they?

    ack. double ack with a cherry on top.

  3. ugh. i got into this conversation last night with someone i really respect and that person disagreed with me that there’s any problem with gender gap. “women just choose to leave the industry” is not a working answer for me; it’s only 15% of the picture (eg … WHY do they choose to leave?). in the end, i just decided to stop talking instead of fighting about it. but.

    whenever something like this comes up, i’m surprised by the violence of my feelings, but there they are.

    • Linda says:

      We have the same thing in the Ivory Tower. LOTS of assistant profs, fewer higher up the food chain. When we do get to full prof, still tremendous disparity in wage. I am the primest example.

      One argument you see in rags like the Chronicle of Higher Ed is women take longer on the tenure path because they ‘take time out for children’. BS. I got 12 weeks between 2 kids, and even when I was on bedrest with the second for 3 months, I worked (I had to, I hadn’t accrued enough time in my new position for ‘vacation’).

      Like the others, makes me want to spit expletives. But I must hurry along my multi-tasking day and need to stay calm.

      And lovely place you have here! peace…

      • Thanks, Linda! Glad you made it over ok. Although I did find your comment enraging! (The subject matter, not the fact you said it 😉

        So our friend Wendy shared this TED segment with one o f the Half the Sky authors/creators: She claims that slavery was the battle of the 19th century; totalitarianism was the battle of the 20th; in the 21st, THE major struggle is going to be equality/improved living standards for women. And of course I know in the context of other women’s struggles around the world, mine is kind of meaningless. But things do string together in my mind.

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