Stella count finds female authors outnumber male authors in Australian book reviews for the first time | Canberra time

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For the first time in the long history of Australian book review, as many women are seeing their books reviewed as men. Probably. That’s the conclusion of the latest data gathered by the Stella Count, a joint effort by the Australian National University and Monash University that tracks books reviewed in a series of leading Australian periodicals. This has led researchers to question whether Australia has the most egalitarian book review landscape in the world. However, fewer books are reviewed across all publications surveyed, with a 15% drop in total reviews between 2019 and 2020. In 2019, more women were reviewed in Australian book pages than women. men for the first time since the count. began in 2012. Representation on the pages of books has evolved significantly since researchers started counting. Only 40% of authors reviewed in 2012 were women. In 2020, 55% of book reviews published in Australia were for books written by women, up from 53% the previous year. Nine of the 12 publications studied in 2019 examined more female authors than male authors. But men continue to dominate the long reviews and non-fiction works that receive critical attention. Men are also more likely to review books written by men, while women review books written by women. Dr Julieanne Lamond of the Australian National University, who is working on the tally, said the statistics likely prompted publications to take action, paying more attention to the books they reviewed. “I think a lot of times when people talk about bias, it’s all in the anecdotes. People have a feeling it’s happening but they don’t have any proof, and anecdotes are easy to ignore,” said the Dr Lamond. “But I think when you have stats that show in great detail what each post is doing, I think it’s a lot harder to ignore.” There are still more than 2,000 book reviews published each year in the Stella Survey publications and around 22,000 books are published in the same period. The countdown is organized by Stella, the non-profit organization that runs the Stella Prize, a literary prize for women and non-binary Australian writers born out of frustration with the male dominance of the Miles Franklin Literary Prize. Dr Lamond said book review remains an important part of the publishing discussion in Australia, although fewer people get their recommendations from a newspaper or magazine. Volunteers manually counted reviews for the 2019 and 2020 counts, which were released with delays during the pandemic. “You talk to any author and they’re extremely keen on getting into the critics’ space because it’s one of the few places where their work is discussed in detail in the public eye and where it’s is assessed,” she said. . Dr Lamond said it was important that gender was not the determining factor in determining whether a book appealed to a reader. “I think there’s sometimes some trepidation going over gender boundaries, but I think it’s important,” she said. The tally covers Adelaide Advertiser, the Melbourne Age, the Sydney Morning Herald, the Australian Book Review, the Australian Financial Review, Books+Publishing, The Courier-Mail, the Hobart Mercury, The Monthly, The Saturday Paper, the Sydney Review of Books, The Australian and The West Australian. The Canberra Times, which resumed publishing locally commissioned book reviews in 2019 after a seven-year hiatus, was not included in the tally. Our reporters work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. Here’s how you can continue to access our trusted content:


Alycia R. Lindley