I want to spend the next couple of days writing and reading nonstop about the 2014 Hugo Award nominees, but alas, I'm going to have to pause for things like going to work and sleeping. So just one post this morning:
Before I dive into the political and strategy discussions in later posts, I want to focus on some notable points about the gender of the nominees and of the authors of the nominated works.
I've updated my Hugo fiction-category nominee gender stats page. This year, 39% of the nominated fiction works were written by woman, which on the one hand is a much much higher percentage than almost all years before 2010, but on the other hand is significantly lower than the past three years. I'm not so good at prognostication, but if I had to guess, I would guess that the number is likely to hover roughly in the 40%–60% range for the next few years. I hope that the days of consistently-under-25% are over. But then, I would have said the same thing during the last percentage peak in the early '90s.
One of the most happily amazing things about this year's ballot, in terms of gender, is the Pro Artist category. Last year, one woman was nominated (Julie Dillon), and she was the first woman to appear on the ballot in that category in twenty-seven years. This year: THREE women.
This is unprecedented in the entire fifty-five-year history of nominations in this category. There was only one previous year when even two women were on the ballot, and that was 1984.
So I'm totally thrilled to see three women this year. That category is one of the least-changing categories on the ballot; this development seems to me to be a great indicator that things are changing. Though of course a single year does not make a trend. I hope this continues; and I hope that the Pro Artist category continues to recognize a larger number of artists than it usually has over time.
...Argh—I wrote about five more paragraphs here, and then my server crashed and I lost them. Feh. Will try to reconstruct.
Next category I wanted to talk about wrt gender: Pro Editor, Long Form. 80% of the nominees this year are women. That's never happened before. There was one previous year (2011) when four of the nominees were women, but that year there was a field of seven nominees, due to a tie. Other than in 2011, I don't think there've ever before been more than three women nominated in any Pro Editor category. However, there've been at least two women nominated in the Long Form category almost every year since its inception in 2007; the Long Form category per se has been pretty gender-balanced. But its predecessor, the combined-lengths category, wasn't.
And the last category I wanted to mention is Fan Writer. There've often been one or two women nominated in this category, but there've also fairly often been no women nominated. This year: four out of five. However, in this category that's not unprecedented: it's happened one previous time, in 1974.
...I should note that of course I have nothing against the men who've been nominated in these categories in the past and who are still eligible and still doing fine work. But for an award that's been pretty heavily male-dominated in the past, especially in a couple of the abovementioned categories, I find it really refreshing to see deserving women getting more attention.