Gender Imbalance, Again. Mansplaining, Again. Bleh.

Gender Imbalance, Again. Mansplaining, Again. Bleh.

The latest entry in the Gender Imbalance Hall of Fame appears to be Solaris Rising: The New Solaris Book of Science Fiction edited by Ian Whates. Of the 21 contributors there are 4 women1.

You may facepalm now.

But, you see, the editor totally knows that this whole gender imbalance thing is a probem. This is why his other anthologies have more women in them! And that makes this all okay.

The thing is, as an editor, it’s almost inevitable (given the aforementioned imbalance) that you’re going to fall foul of somebody’s opinion somewhere. I’ve just released the TOC for Solaris Rising, an anthology I’ve been commissioned to produce for (you guessed it) Solaris. … Already the book has attracted a drearily predictable comment of “How’s that mistressworks thing goin’?” from Nick Mamatas. It’s strange, but last year when I released the anthology The Bitten Word (ten female authors, seven male), nobody accused me of being a feminist. Nor was gender commented on that June when I released Anniversaries (seven female authors, two male). I suspect that next month, when I release a new collection of stories by Liz Williams – A Glass of Shadow – with an intro by Tanith Lee and cover art by Anne Sudworth, no comment will be made then either, nor when I release the next NewCon Press anthology Dark Currents in 2012 – which looks set to once again feature more female contributors than male. The detractors are very selective, it seems.

Shorter Ian Whates: WHERE ARE MAH COOKIES?!!

Someone call the wahmbulance and pick this mansplaier off the ground before he hurts himself.


  1. Oh look, Paul DiFilippo is in it, too! That’s a sure sign of quality… /sarcasm []

13 thoughts on “Gender Imbalance, Again. Mansplaining, Again. Bleh.

  1. Just a couple of points. ‘Solaris Rising’ is the first un-themed anthology I’ve ever produced, so to try to see a pattern between themed and un-themed regarding gender balance in previous books is a little pointless.

    The anthology Charlie refers to was written as homage to a very male orientated book ‘Tales from the White Hart’ by Arthur C Clarke and I was trying to stay as true to that original as possible. In that instance, therefore, I sought largely male authors, just as in other instances I’d approached largely female ones. Despite that aim, I had already invited two female authors (one of whom was too busy to submit) because I didn’t want to stay THAT close to the original. After Charlie highlighted his concerns, I reconsidered and approached a couple more. In the end, one author I would dearly love to have included, Pat Cadigan, was unable to take part due to illness in her family, no matter how far I stretched deadlines.

    At the end of the day, all I’m trying to say is that I believe the problem of too few women authors in SF (in the UK at least) has its roots in a perception among the wider public that SF novels are for ‘boys’, involving nothing but spaceships and big guns and explosions, that many see the genre’s literature as not having anything to offer women. If we can start to change that perception (which is a false one), we might start to see more women coming into SF as both readers and writers.

    I’m sorry if that’s a view that offends people. It certainly wasn’t intended to.

  2. “nobody accused me of being a feminist.”

    Because being “accused” of being feminist is such a dirty thing to be! Reverse sexism, rah!

  3. This doesn’t surprise me. When I was invited to submit to the Solaris SF 3 anthology, it was because they’d noticed that they didn’t have enough women in it. Imagine my surprise upon opening my comp copies to discover that “not enough” meant “none until they invited me.”

  4. “Maybe I should publish an anthology of all women authors at some point to silence the sceptics…”

    Ah yes, the true goal of feminism: SILENCING WOMEN.

  5. My favourite part is that information from one (male) agent is proof that there are only 20% women writing speculative fiction in the UK. And then, of course, it’s obvious that only a small percent of those 20% actually write science fiction, and the rest only deal with that girly fantasy.

    1. Ah, that’s not what John Jarrold said – the 80/20 split referred to all MS that he receives, which covers a wide range of SF to fantasy and horror etc.

  6. I can’t help noting that the anthologies he uses to toot his own feminist horn all seem to be themed, whereas the ones that raise the questions seem to be more generic: the best science fiction, or the masters of science fiction, or this new one that’s just a science fiction book commissioned by a publisher.

    So it seems like women can haz representation when it comes to specific interests that might be loosely grouped as speculative fiction (The Bitten Word… vampire fiction, right? And Dark Currents sounds like more of the same), but “science fiction” still equals “men”.

  7. Ian has done this before.

    Last time, I discovered — after I’d submitted a story to an anthology he was editing — that there was one female author in it. I kicked him. So he apologized … and invited another.

    Next time … I don’t want there to be a next time. I don’t want to play in the NO GURLZ ALLOWED club. So I’m not going to write stories for anthologies edited by men where the editor can’t assure me that at least 30%[*] of the invited contributors are female. And if they do so and it turns out they’ve been lying to me, I will call them on it in public.

    [*] I’d rather aim for 50%, but I suspect some of these editors can’t think of that many female authors. I reckon giving them an easy target will at least improve the likelihood of them meeting it, rather than not bothering to try. The bar can be raised later: the important thing is to put it in place to begin with.

  8. Depressing statistic I heard this weekend about the UK gender imbalance in SF: there are currently no British female sci-fi writers having their books published by UK professional publishers, according to a friend of mine.

    I don’t know how strict the definitions of this are. Someone in one of those posts mentioned a female Warhammer 40k author; I don’t know whether or not Justina Robson’s SFish-UFish series is still being published here; I do know Liz Williams has been dropped by her UK publishers; Lauren Beukes is with Angry Robot, who apparently aren’t ‘big’ enough to be ‘professional’.

    But even after accounting for things like that, the big names of SF being published right now in the UK are dudes.

    (This is not meant as an ‘excuse’ for gender imbalanced TOCs, as clearly there are women writing excellent SF even if they’re not being ‘pro’-published and we’re evidently not getting UK-only TOCs at Solaris anyway, more of a remark on how ridiculous things are and did I mention that this makes me very angry?)

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