Sisters in Crime Releases 2016 Monitoring Report
Study Monitors Gender Parity in Mystery Fiction Reviews in National Media
Sisters in Crime volunteers have monitored published reviews of crime fiction since 1986 to determine the percentage of reviews accorded women writers. During the twenty years of the Monitoring Project, through 2015, a long-term upward trend existed. The 2016 results are stagnant in the digital category and show statistically insignificant changes (1% up or down) in the national newspapers, local newspapers, pre-publication sources, and genre-focused magazine categories.
It is of significant note that many of the print and digital publications monitored are printing less reviews than in the past. For example, although the percentage of reviews of books by women remained constant for digital sources at 52%, the monitored reviews from the same sources dropped from 1600 to 1565.
The national newspaper category continues to be the most resistant to reviewing women writers. This is important because these review outlets, The New York Times, The Toronto Globe & Mail, The Washington Post, and The Wall Street Journal, have prestige and wide readership. Of the pre-publication review sources, both Booklist (43%) and Publishers Weekly (46%) continued to favor male writers over women authors, but both improved a percentage point from 2015. Library Journal, which has devoted a majority of its reviews since 2011 to women dropped from 60% in 2015 to 56% in 2016. The Wall Street Journal, which almost reached parity in 2015, returned to its traditional approach of only according a quarter of its reviews to books by woman (26%) in 2016.
What percentage of published mysteries are by women?
Because there is no master list of published mysteries, Sisters in Crime estimates the percentage of mysteries written by women by counting submissions to the Edgar Awards in four categories: best novel, best first novel, best paperback or e-original, and any books submitted for the Mary Higgins Clark award not submitted in one of the other categories. Combining all of the categories, women authors accounted for 49% of the books submitted. Prior to this, women had written slightly over half of the books submitted during four of the five past years (2015-51%). The past trend of male authors dominating the Best Novel (57%) continues. Women authors again had the majority of Best Paperback or E-Original (56%), but lost ground in the Best First Novel category (2015-52%; 2016-48%).
About the 2017 Sisters in Crime Monitoring Project
The 2017 Sisters in Crime Monitoring Project will continue to count reviews in its five general categories, but, reflecting changes in publishing and readership, will be adding two new monitored areas: Canadian publications and Young Adult/Middle Grade.
About Sisters in Crime
As a 30-year-old organization that is dedicated to the ongoing advancement, recognition and professional development of women crime writers, Sisters in Crime continues to affirm its mission to leveling the mystery genre playing field. Reports like these shed light on which outlets stand out in their coverage of female authors and which still have room to grow. Trade publications like Library Journal and RT Book Reviews and newspapers like USA Today and Boston Globe devoted more than half of their 2016 crime fiction reviews to women authors.