To highlight the gender gap in fiction writing, Harriet Logan turned all of the books written by men page-side out on the shelf.
Logan, the owner of Loganberry Books in Cleveland, takes the time every March to show the gender disparity in fiction writing for Women’s History Month, she said in an email.
The store is mostly comprised of older works of fiction, and she said she believes the gender gap has gotten smaller. She estimated that 37 percent of the fiction works were written by women.
Though the gender disparity in literature may be shrinking, women authors still struggle to receive recognition for their work.
Vida, a non-profit organization dedicated to women in the literary arts, compiled data that breaks down statistics of book reviews. Of the 988 authors reviewed in The New York Times, about 40 percent of the books were written by women. On The New York Times Bestsellers List for hardcover fiction, six of the top 10 books were written by men.
Gillian Berchowitz, the director and editor-in-chief of Ohio University Press, feels major book review outlets are trying their hardest to give exposure to women writers, which also extends to publishing houses.
Publishing follows a lot of current trends, Berchowitz said, but publishers and editors are looking for more women and minority writers.
“They want diversity,” she said. “I do not think that if there are prejudices at work, it’s not a straightforward one.”
Because women face certain problems and have different perspectives, they can write about topics relevant to women, Elizabeth Loring, a sophomore studying communication and marketing, said. Women are more qualified to talk about their bodies and social movements like feminism, she added.
“If it was a man writing it, no one would understand. I think it’s good as a woman writer to be really relatable to other women,” Loring said.
OU Press publishes African and Appalachian literature, and Berchowitz said there are a mix of male and female authors. The big-hit books have been by men, Berchowitz said, but the women authors do well too.
Reasons books are successful, Berchowitz said, is because of name recognition, the quality of the writing and the topic — it does not have to do with gender.
“For me, an author is an author, (but) I want to make sure there is a good mix of authors,” she said. “(Editors and publishers) are trying to connect readers and writers, and women are big readers. Women readers actually have a lot of power.”
Something women authors can do to help themselves is to self-promote their writing, Berchowitz said. When it comes to promoting books, publicists can only do so much, she added.
“Gender and race still plague us — they are unsolved societal problems,” she said. “You cannot understand them … if you don’t have women at the table presenting their points of view.”