The Stella Count: 2013 gender ratios in books pages revealed

Books by male authors received on average 55.4% of coverage in Australia’s major newspapers and literary journals compared to 44.6% for books by female authors, the 2013 Stella Count has revealed.

For the third year in a row—and the second year in conjunction with the Stella Prize—Books+Publishing has compiled Australian statistics showing how many women and men were reviewed in Australia’s major newspapers and literary journals.

The 2013 red and blue pie charts, which are modelled on those produced by US-based organisation VIDA, are relatively similar to those from 2012 and 2011, with some publications recording an increase in coverage of female authors and others recording a drop. The two publications with the largest bias towards male authors were the Australian Financial Review, with 85% of its reviews devoted to books by male authors (up from 80% in 2012), and the Weekend Australian, with 65% of its reviews (down from 70% in 2012).

This year, the Stella Count also considered the genders of literary reviewers, and found that while female reviewers reviewed books by both men and women, male reviewers overwhelmingly reviewed books by men.

‘The Stella Count reveals that not only are books by men reviewed more often, but male reviewers tend to review books written by men and these reviews are often longer and given more prominence,’ Stella Prize chair Aviva Tuffield told Books+Publishing. ‘All of this suggests that there is still a vital role for the Stella Prize to play in highlighting Australian women’s contribution to literature and in bringing more readers—male and female alike—to books by female authors.’

Notes on the data: anthologies and other books with both male and female authors were excluded from this count. Every effort has been made to ensure these statistics are accurate, and any publication for which we were unable to obtain sufficient or reliable data this year has been excluded from the count. This count surveyed print publications only.

With thanks to 2013 Stella Count coordinators Fay Helfenbaum and Veronica Sullivan.


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