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CWILA’s 2014 count suggests “quantifiable shift in gender representation” in literary media

CWILA-overallCanadian Women in the Literary Arts, which tracks gender parity in literary criticism, has released its 2014 survey, with results that are marginally positive for women authors and reviewers.

The annual report tracks the ratio of male to female authors and critics represented in Canadian literary media (including Quill & Quire), newspapers, and websites. In its summary, the organization identifies a “quantifiable shift in gender representation” over the past three years, which it credits to the “CWILA Effect.” However, there are still areas where imbalances exist, such as non-fiction, which remains dominated by reviews of books by male authors.

In total, CWILA volunteers counted 5,866 book reviews from 32 publications (4,462 English; 1,404 French). Here are some highlights:

  • Of the 5,866 reviews across all outlets, 39 per cent feature books authored by women – up two per cent from 2013 – while 57 per cent feature books authored by men.
  • In over half of the publications counted, the number of reviews written by women reached parity.
  • Of the top 20 reviewed books, 55 per cent were written by women. The top reviewed title of 2014 was Adult Onset by Ann-Marie MacDonald, followed by All My Puny Sorrows by Miriam Toews, and This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate by Naomi Klein.
  • Male reviewers are predominantly still reviewing books written by men (65 per cent).
  • Reviews of women’s non-fiction titles comprise only 29 per cent of the total 2,341 reviews in the category.
  • Matrix magazine scored the highest percentage of overall reviews by women, 88 per cent, but out of an annual total of only eight reviews. By comparison, the overall percentage of reviews written by women in the Toronto Star was 65 per cent, with an annual total of 878 reviews, the highest number of reviews of any publication surveyed.
  • Quill & Quire scored well in nearly every category. With an annual total of 424 reviews, 63 per cent were written by women, while 53 per cent of all books reviewed were authored by women.

A complete breakdown by publication and a explanation of CWILA’s methodology is available here.