Canadian Women in the Literary Arts‚ the Ontario-based organization that addresses unequal gender representation on the national literary scene‚ has released the results of its 2015 survey.
CWILA surveyed 5,268 book reviews from 30 Canadian newspapers, magazines, and journals in both English and French. For the first time in the group’s research history‚ the numbers reveal that gender parity has essentially been reached in at least one aspect‚ with 48 per cent of reviews written by women and 49 per cent written by men.
CWILA chair Erin Wunker said in a press release‚ “This positive trend signals a significant shift from the first CWILA Count in 2011. This suggests to me, among other things, that the count is having a positive, tangible effect on review cultures in Canada.”
Unfortunately‚ the French-language publications reviewed – Le Devoir, Lettres québécoises, Liberté, Nuit blanche, and Spirale – brought down the cumulative statistics‚ with reviews by men accounting for 67 per cent of the total‚ compared to only 29 per cent by women‚ which CWILA board member Evelyne Ledoux-Beaugrand called “alarming‚” though not representative of all Québécois publications. The studied English-language outlets‚ in contrast‚ dedicated an average of 55 per cent of their review space to female reviewers.
In examining the titles reviewed last year‚ CWILA found the gender ratio among authors still unequal‚ though improving: 40 per cent of all books reviewed were written by women (compared to 39 per cent last year)‚ 52 per cent were by men (compared to last year’s 57 per cent last year)‚ 7.5 per cent were by mixed-gender co-authors‚ 0.1 per cent were by authors who identified as non-binary‚ and less than one per cent were written anonymously. Reviewers still tended to review books by their own gender (men reviewed books by male authors 64 per cent of the time‚ and women reviewed female-authored titles 53 per cent of the time). (Fifty-nine per cent of Q&Q‘s reviews last year were written by women‚ 33 per cent were by men‚ and eight per cent were by reviewers of anonymous/unidentified gender.)
CWILA indicated that these numbers represent a one to two per cent increase each year in female-authored books reviewed in Canada since the organization began its count.