The Stella Count for 2014 is in!
This wonderful little study, conducted by the same people behind the Stella Prize, looks at gender (im)balance in book reviews across Australia. You can see the full results here.
What’s the take-home message? Most of the regionals seem to be getting things right. There are fairly equal numbers of male and female reviewers, ditto for the gender of authors reviewed.
The nationals – the Australian, the Financial Review and the Monthly – all have significantly higher numbers of male reviewers, and significantly higher numbers of male authors reviewed.
AND there’s a bias towards men reviewing men and women reviewing women across the board, with men showing this preference more strongly.
So, what to do? Well, on a personal level, if you tend to reach for books by men, maybe it’s time to try something by a woman. We at Wakefield Press have suggestions (of course!).
1. Hunger Town by Wendy Scarfe
Shortlisted for one of Australia’s premier writing prizes, lauded by reviewer after reviewer (of all genders), this ripping tale of a political cartoonist caught between idealism and reality is a great read.
2. Nature’s Line by Janis Sheldrick
This is the definitive biography of George Goyder, whose understanding of rainfall and arability was miles ahead of many in his time. Sheldrick’s biography is meticulously researched and well written, making it a real pleasure to read.
3. Silver Lies, Golden Truths by Christine Ellis
The tale of an illegal German immigrant caught between two world wars and part of the only enemy attack to take place on Australian soil in World War I – at Broken Hill.
4. Sweet Boy Dear Wife by Heather Rossiter
Hot off the press! A fascinating story about Jane Dieulafoy, an archaeologist who worked on sites throughout the Middle East in the nineteenth century, often dressing as a boy to work unhindered. Rossiter makes Jane’s world come alive.
5. Fables Queer and Familiar by Margaret Merrilees
Yes, it’s about lesbian grandmas, no, that doesn’t mean you have to be a lesbian grandma to enjoy it. In fact, every single person I’ve met who’s picked up this book has loved it. Hilarious, is the word that comes up over and over again.