As you may know, the theme for this month at 50ayear is feminism, and I thought it would be a nice introduction to take a look at the distribution of women writers on my shelves.

I’ve done a something similar on this blog before, looking at how many books by female writers I own, compared to male ones. This time I thought I’d get a bit more detailed and that means … BAR CHARTS!

First up, let’s look at the number of books by women I own, compared to the number of books by men. In total, I own 87 books by women compared to 227 books by men. And here’s how they divide up by genre:

women writers by genre


It’s pretty interesting that women writers make up less than half of my collection, but they do manage to beat the men in just one genre: biography. Maybe I enjoy reading real life stories about badass women?

But it isn’t just about quantity. Quality is important too, so let’s take a look at the number of books I’ve awarded 5 stars on Goodreads:

women writers goodreads rating


Once again, the men take the lead, with far more 5 star ratings for male writers than female ones.

But star ratings are a pretty oversimplified way of rating a book. Another way I can get a decent idea of quality is by looking at the writers I have given prizes to in my Annual Book Awards:

women writers book awards by gender


Now, I’ve had to discount some awards, such as best book cover and best book to movie adaptation, and the number of prizes I’ve given each year has also varied, but once again the men dominate.

Of course, that doesn’t mean the women writers I read aren’t as good as the men – it’s pretty clear from the first bar chart┬áthat I simply don’t own as many books by women writers.

A large part of this unfair distribution might also have to do with the books I choose to read (which depends on all sorts of factors, including what I’m sent to review and my mood when I’m picking). In fact, last year’s Book Awards painted quite a different picture. Here are my Book Awards by year:

women writers book awards by year


After a complete no-show of women in my 2013 awards, the ladies absolutely blew the men out of the water in 2014!

Of course, this is all just a bit of fun. I’m not trying to claim that either men or women writers are ‘better’, but I do find it fascinating to look at my bookshelves in a new way.

So why these big differences between men and women? I imagine the answer is hugely complex: perhaps the types of books I go for are more often written by men, or maybe there have historically been more male writers in the market. I certainly wouldn’t say that I am biased against women writers – in recent years especially I have discovered some female writers who have become firm favourites of mine – and, if that last bar chart is anything to go by, I’m getting much better at finding women writers who I thoroughly enjoy reading.

How gender-biased are your bookshelves? Do you have any thoughts about why they are that way? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

- gildius -

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