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Author gender and Asimov's

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One of the high points of WorldCon for me was getting to chat more than I usually do with Sheila Williams, editor of Asimov's. One of the things we talked about was the whole author-gender-balance thing; I wanted to post the information she gave me, but first I had to check that (a) I was remembering the numbers correctly, and (b) it was okay with her if I posted publicly about it.

Sheila verified both of those things a couple days ago, so here's the info.

Sheila did count author gender for submissions over a couple of months last year. She found that somewhere between 27% and 33% of the stories she received during that period were by women. (That's a range rather than a specific number because the genders of some authors weren't obvious.) That's the most recent and longest-period count that I've heard of being done at a major print sf magazine; I'm pleased that Sheila took the time to do it. (And Brian B., too, if he participated.)

She also found that 27% of the stories appearing in Asimov's from January 2006 through December 2006 (going by issue cover dates, I assume) are by women. That date range is her first full year as editor; the first issue that contained no stories bought by Gardner was the December 2005 issue.

So in terms of what Sheila is buying, we now have real data that indicates that women are represented in the Asimov's TOC roughly in the same proportion as they're represented in the Asimov's slushpile.

(This parenthetical paragraph isn't about Sheila or Asimov's per se, but I feel obliged to mention it: I worry that some people will take those numbers as another indication that in fact there isn't a problem in the field as a whole and that we can therefore stop thinking about it. So I want to explicitly reiterate, going back to things I said in my previous entry on this topic, that I would still like to see the percentage of submissions by women go up for all sf venues, and I still think that there's more to helping that happen than just saying "Well, it's up to women to submit more." Again, Sheila hasn't said anything like that, so this paragraph isn't about her; in this paragraph I'm talking about the general issue, not any one specific venue.)

On a side note, Sheila also told me one other submission-related number: Asimov's receives roughly 300 to 500 submissions a month. The months with 300 are rare, though; a typical month is closer to 500 submissions.

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