More on genderflipping

After last week’s post on genderflipped covers, my friend Flit dug up an article she remembered reading about a a bias study regarding female playwrights.

The article is well worth reading, but for the TL;DR folk among us (sorry, I only just learned that TL;DR meant “too long; didn’t read”, so now I have to use it at least once), the take-away is “in an as-controlled study as is possible, it turns out women discriminate against female playwrights more strongly than men do, even though plays written by women make more money.”

That doesn’t really do the article justice, but it’s as close as I can get in a sentence-long summary. Go read it, really, if you’re at all interested in the topic at hand.

The reasons behind the above two take-aways are complex. It appears that women discriminate against women more strongly because they percieve that if they don’t, when they bring too many womens’ work to the table, the men around them will dismiss it/them. So they’re culling early. And it appears the reason womens’ works make more money is that people will take a chance on a promising young male playwright and produce his play, but will tell a promising young female playwright “Now all you need to do is write a hit!” and only after a truly remarkable script has been written will it be produced.

The latter in particular seems to me to fall in line with what I’ve read any number of times regarding women submitting material to anthologies/editors/conference papers/etc: that women are accepted in higher proportion relative to the percentage of submissions, because the work is of higher quality. This is due, evidently, to women being taught that they have to be perfect before they can risk trying, because anything less will fail.

This is not saying men will throw any old shit to see if it sticks, but evidently that they’re trained to believe that they should try, whereas women are less so trained.

So that may in effect be the answer to the Great Social Experiment I’d like to try, the one of writing two series of the exact same type, one under a male name and one under a female name. (Although to properly balance it I couldn’t even write one under CE Murphy, because that’s a name with a known quantity and reader base, which would skew the results. They’d have to be two equally unknown (or known) names, which makes it an even more impossible project.) Or perhaps that actually has no reflection at all on what the results of a Great Social Experiment might be. But it does feel like it all ties together, although of course the way it ties together most basically is “Society: it am broked.” @.@ :)


  1. T.A. (Tim) Pratt’s MARLA MASON series covers seem to me more gender neutral, even though featuring a female protagonist. I tend to think this androgynous approach was deliberate. Most of the titles in Urban Fantasy are written by women, even those trying to casually pass as male–like Rob(in) Thurman.
    What gets under my skin are covers where the protagonist(s) are depicted considerably different from how the author paints them. Imagine Hugh painting Jo as a 5-2, chubby blonde with a DD rack, sporting an assault rifle!

Comments are closed.