Last month Vidaweb.org released a series of pie charts that showed women made up less than 50% of Authors reviewed at many of the most influential literary review sources in 2012. The results often dovetailed with the number of female Book Reviewers on staff at the leading newspapers and literary journals. Perhaps the trend will change at the New York Times Book Review with Pamela Paul named top editor, a promotion from her role as Children’s Book Editor.
The New York Times Book Review wasn’t the worst offender in the Vidaweb report. Though just under 33% of NYTBR reviewers in 2012 were women, about 45% of female authors were reviewed under outgoing editor Sam Tanenhaus. We don’t know the gender breakdown of the authors of books that got sent for review consideration, so that number might reflect no — or at least very little — gender bias.
That said, books by men are disproportionately reviewed and with the NYTBR among the most esteemed of the review pack, Paul is in a position to lead the way to more proportional reviewing across the board. Of course, just because she is a woman I can’t assume she will behave one way or another, but I can hope, and I will.