Stella’s Statement on Gender

The Stella Prize celebrates Australian women’s writing and is an organisation that champions cultural change.

As we celebrate Australian literature and work with writers and readers to question gender disparities and challenge stereotypes, we recognise and support women and non-binary writers — in their diverse and holistic expressions of their gender identities.

We do not believe gender identity is reducible to the body.

As traditional binaries around gender continue to be challenged both politically and socially, we recognise that what it means to be a woman is not static. Stella advocates for a nuanced conversation around gender inequality, particularly the relationship that language and power have in creating and perpetuating it. We know that rigid gender norms reinforce inequality and limit us as individuals and a community.

Regarding eligibility for the Stella Prize, we welcome authors who identify with Stella’s mission to celebrate Australian women’s writing in ways that reconcile with their understanding of their own gender identity. This includes trans women, non-binary and cis women writers. We do not require any statement beyond an author’s self identification and interpret entry to the prize as confirmation of that identification.

In our work with young people through our Schools Program, we aim to be welcoming to all genders. This includes girls, boys, non-binary and gender-diverse teens; cis, trans and other identities across the spectrum. We have been inspired and challenged by the young people who have contributed their depth of experience of what it means to feel limited by gender and their understanding of how language can be used to liberate and empower.

Each year, we compile an annual Stella Count. Traditionally, we have identified authors’ genders on the basis of published information, both within authors’ own work and the related media coverage. This data is then anonymised and aggregated to ensure that individual can not be identified. However, if an author believes they have been incorrectly considered in a particular gender category, or have subsequently changed their gender identity, Stella will make every effort to correct that data.

We want to continue a conversation with the community around how we achieve gender equality. We are proud of our foundations in the women’s movement and do not want to invalidate gender diverse identities by assuming all experiences of gender inequality to be the same. A range of individuals and organisations have contributed to our ongoing understanding of gender; we have compiled a set of resources that have been influential to our thinking. We welcome your feedback and invite you to join this conversation.