Nicola Griffith is continuing to mine data about women and literary awards, now with the help of a bunch of eager volunteers. She has a new post up on Charlie Stross’s blog, and it includes the following fascinating chart made by someone called Eric.
The chart is using female membership of SFWA as a proxy for the number of women writing SF&F. It is not perfect but I’m happy with the assumption.
What we can see here is that from the foundation of SFWA through to around 1995 the proportion of women getting Hugo nominations tracked fairly well with the proportion of women actually writing. From around 1995 to 2006 there is a catastrophic drop-off in the number of award nominations, after which things pick up again.
One interesting thing to me in all this is that 1995 to 2006 is the period in which I was publishing Emerald City. So, by the standards of proof used by tabloid newspapers, clearly the decline in the number of female Hugo finalists is all my fault.
Or maybe not. Correlation does not imply causality and all that.
Rather more interesting is there seems to be a ceiling beyond which women are not allowed to go. If we get over 30% of the finalist slots there’s a backlash. The effects of Puppygate are not shown on the chart, but I’m sure you can all envisage what they will be.
The good news is that our ceiling appears to be considerably higher than the 17% reported by the Geena Davis Institute in its famous study of women in movies. Even so, a ceiling is a worrying thing, and I’m now eager to dig further into the results for the 1995 to 2006 period to see if there are any obvious drivers (other than me) for the collapse. I’m asking myself questions such as, Is the same pattern seen in the Nebulas? and, Is there a corresponding rise in women in the fantasy novel category of the Locus Awards?
Not that I have time to do any digging right now. Is someone else does it, I shall be very grateful.