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2019 Sisters in Crime Monitoring Project Report

Sisters in Crime began its Monitoring Project in 1986 as a means of promoting and gaining parity for women crime fiction writers. The project required the monitoring of published reviews of crime fiction to determine the percentage of reviews accorded women authors. For the first time since 1986, the overall results of the monitored publications indicate women authors were reviewed more than men (52% to 48%), but this statistic doesn’t hold up when the numbers are examined by publication type and the repetitiveness of reviews accorded to a specific author.

The publications reviewed include national, regional/local, genre specific, and pre-publication review sources. Juvenile and Middle Grade also are considered but those numbers are analyzed separately. It is impossible to determine the impact the Me Too Movement may have had on the internal process of the various publications for targeting reviews. In addition, because this year’s best-seller, Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens, and several similar authors were reviewed across the board, there also was a slight skewing of female reviews that cannot be quantified.

The tipping of the final percentage finding in favor of women authors is attributable to the increase in genre and pre-publishing reviews accorded of women’s works. Last year, only one publication in the mystery genre, Mystery Scene, accorded parity or better to female authors. The remainder favored male written works sixty plus percent (62%-66%) to thirty plus percent (34%-38%). In 2019, the numbers for monitored crime publications changed to forty-five percent accorded to male writers versus fifty-five percent of the reviews given to women writers. Drilling down, the individual publications ranged from 33-58% in favor of males to 42%-67% for female authors. Mystery Scene remained a leader in its approach to parity, but it was joined by Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine.

Pre-publishing reviews historically have tilted in favor of female writers over male writers, but this year the spread between forty-five percent for male and fifty-five percent for female reviews changed to forty-two percent to fifty-eight percent. Although publications including Bookletters, Kirkus, Publisher’s Weekly, and Library Journal have always skewed higher in publishing female reviews, the big change was reflected by Booklist. In 2018, Booklist favored male authors fifty-three percent to forty-seven percent, but this year, the printed reviews were fifty-fifty. This change, plus higher percentages of female authors reviewed by every other publication monitored, explains the difference in the final totals.

The weakest areas for parity, which still showed increases, were in the traditional publications. These sources had similar results. Men received fifty-four percent of the printed reviews nationally and fifty-three percent at the regional /local level. Accordingly, the women’s statistics were forty-six percent and forty-seven percent, respectively.

Children’s and Middle Grade results have traditionally skewed higher for reviews accorded female authors. The trend continued this year with men receiving thirty-three percent of the monitored reviews, while women had sixty-seven percent.

An attempt was again made to monitor the impact of the sex of the reviewer on the number of reviews given to males or females and how much multiple reviews impact final totals, but the numbers obtained were not quantifiable and accountable for the standards of this report.

In conclusion, the overall percentages, for the first time, favor female over male authors, but a more detailed analysis demonstrates improvement still needed in terms of the traditional media to meet the overall statistics.


----Respectfully Submitted by Debra H. Goldstein – Monitoring Chairperson




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