Steps of Action

Things you can do right now to advance women’s writing and eradicate literary gender bias.

READERS

  • Have a look at your bookshelves: how many books are written by women, and how many by men? Work towards equal numbers.
  • Challenge your book club to read the same number of books by women as by men.
  • Be aware of the space given to women in the newspapers and journals you subscribe to or read and, where results fall short, write to their editors and publishers to tell them you’d like to see better gender representation.
  • Tell your friends and family about great books by women that you’ve enjoyed. 

WRITERS

  • Make sure your writing passes the Bechdel Test (it features at least two women who talk to each other about something other than a man).
  • Take time to consider how unconscious gender bias plays into the way you write, whose stories you tell, and how you tell them.
  • Women writers: Pitch and submit your work, widely and often.

EDITORS & PUBLISHERS

  • Actively seek out pitches and submissions from women. Consider not only the gender but also the race, sexual identity, age and other identity markers of the writers you publish.
  • Be mindful of the gender of the authors of books reviewed in your publication, and of the genders of reviewers assigned to them.
  • Review your Stella Count results, or conduct your own gender representation and diversity survey. Be open with your outcomes and commit to improve where you fall short. 

TEACHERS

  • Select texts written by a diverse range of authors and about characters with a wide range of experiences and backgrounds.
  • Equip your students with the knowledge and skills to engage critically with the ways gender representation is handled in their own writing and that of others, and with how books are marketed and presented to them by publishers.

BOOKSELLERS AND LIBRARIANS

  • When ordering or recommending books, strive for equal gender representation. Be mindful of race, sexual identity, disability, age and other identity markers.

SCHOOL STUDENTS

  • Ask your teachers and librarians for recommendations of books by women. If they don’t know of any, discuss why not, and find some together.
  • Be conscious of gender bias and diversity in the writing you do now and into the future.