As has been widely noted, on this year's Hugo ballot there's only one work by a woman among the twenty works nominated in the four fiction categories.
I agree that this situation is very unfortunate. The number of works by women in the fiction categories has never been great, but this year it's unusually low.
Here's a list covering the past ten years, in case anyone's interested. I'm looking only at fiction here; ignoring all the other categories.
(Edited later to add a percent-by-women column and a total in the last row.)
It's late and I'm sleepy, so my counts may not be entirely accurate; please let me know if I made any mistakes.
As I mentioned in my previous entry, the easiest way to try to improve things in future years is to nominate more works by women.
But there are other approaches that might help too. For example:
- Recommend more works by women, in places like the hugo_recommend LJ community.
- If you're an editor, publish more works by women.
- If you're a female writer, write and submit more.
- Help get more girls interested in reading and writing science fiction and fantasy, and/or in math and science.
- Join Broad Universe.
While I'm on the topic: the other day, I happened across my mention from a while back of the "regender" tool, which lets you view a web page with most of the gendered words (including names and pronouns) changed. But it didn't occur to me to take the next step, and regender this year's Hugo ballot; that was genius Sharyn November's idea. (Thanks to Gwenda, Meghan, Ben, et alia for passing the idea along.)
Some sample lines from that press release:
"The Helen Awards are science fiction's highest honor for professional and fan work."
"The 2007 Helen Awards nominations include finalists in 14 categories, plus the Joyce W. Campbell Award (not a Helen)."
Sadly, regender fails to change the title "A Billion Eves" to "A Billion Adams," and there are several names it doesn't have equivalents for, including "Geoff." But I'm pleased to see such distinguished authors and editors and artists as Samantha R. Delany, Nellie Gaiman, Joyce Scalzi, Patricia Nielsen Hayden, Goldie Van Gelder, Dawn Langford, Frances Wu, and Samuel Monette on the Helens ballot. Also that fine semiprozine Lord Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet, edited by Gail Grant and Kenneth Link.
And, of course, you can actually read Betty Rosenbaum's Helen-nominated story. At some point, presumably, all or most of the Hugo-nominated short fiction will appear in free online versions; at that time, I'm hoping to put together the equivalent list for the Helens.
I honestly don't think Betty's story works as well as Ben's (even if regender were to recognize the name "Matthias" as male and change it), but I do agree with Ben that the changes reveal some fascinating things about the way gender works in the story, and/or about the real-world gender assumptions that we take into the story with us.
Um, if you haven't read Ben's original story, I do recommend reading that before reading Betty's.
. . . Okay, a couple of the novellas are already online due to having previously been nominated for the Nebula, so I may as well regender them while I'm here: "The Walls of the Universe," by Paula Melko, and "Inclination," by Wilma Shunn. As with Ben's story, I recommend reading the originals of these ("The Walls of the Universe," "Inclination") before the regendered versions; both of the originals are worth reading.