Jenn just linked to a great piece by Justin Landon about the paucity of female sf artists on award ballots and in pro publications.
I recommend reading the article in full; lots of good stuff there. But I'm going to focus on one specific aspect: the Best Professional Artist category of the Hugo ballot.
As Landon notes (and as others including me have noted previously), in 2013 there was a woman in that category for the first time in 27 years. TWENTY. SEVEN. YEARS. The last time a woman appeared in that category was 1986.
Part of that is because the Pro Artist category is one of the least-changing categories. During the years since 1987, there've been a total of only 26 nominees; during a recent five-year span, there were a total of only 9 nominees. So I suspect that a lot of what happens is that the people doing the Hugo nominating just don't know the names of any other pro artists, so they keep nominating the same people over and over.
But there's been a huge influx of new Hugo nominators in the past few years. And this year, there were three artists on the Pro Artist ballot who had never appeared there before; that's happened before (most recently in 2008), but it's rare.
So I'm hoping that this may be a good opportunity to get more women on the ballot.
So here's my request to all of you who plan to nominate for the Hugos in 2014:
Please seek out recent art by women, and consider whether you feel the artist is worthy of a Hugo. Don't just wait to see whether you happen to notice any female artists; go out and look for them. And if you find some who you'd like to see win a Hugo, then please nominate them.
STANDARD DISCLAIMER PARAGRAPH: No, I'm not calling for quotas or for lowering standards. There are plenty of female professional artists who I believe are creating Hugoworthy art; see the Landon piece for some of them.