A little acknowledged revolution in the publishing industry is the fast and furious acceptance of women authors and publishing executives. Women writers are recognized experts in every field of nonfiction, and women are among the top earners in fiction writing. In publishing, women hold nearly three-quarters of sales, marketing, editorial, and operations jobs in the industry and share about half the managerial positions with male counterparts.
Women have come a long way in the past century since novelist, poet, journalist, and translator George Eliot (Mary Ann Evans) was forced to write under a male sounding sobriquet. Eliot (Evans) published more than half-dozen popular novels. Her Middlemarch was acclaimed in 2010 the greatest novel in the English language by BBC Culture’s poll, and Jane Austen the third best novelist.
Prior to Eliot (1790-1820), a slew of women novelists published in England on topics of money and social order. Researcher Edward Copeland points to the common themes throughout ten novels of Charlotte Smith. She and other women told tales of genteel women with claims to station but suffering from economic disaster and shortages of funds.
Women in Publishing Today
In 2016, money continues to be one of the hottest topics for women writers spurred by the specialization of topics in the publishing industry. Close behind are topics about gender, fashion, sex and sexuality, culinary subjects, health, and beauty.
Women have cracked but not smashed the glass ceiling in publishing. In a Publishers Weekly annual salary survey, some of the barriers for women in publishing were listed:
* Women get far fewer book review bylines
* Women authors are more often receiving less advances and review coverage
* Women hold far fewer top management positions in publishing.
Things are changing, according to Erin Cox, business development director for Publishing Perspectives. Writing in July 2015, she noted that the paths into management are changing for women. Many women are graduating with MBA degrees, so more women have the potential to move into financial management of publishing firms.
Additionally, women’s attitudes and pictures of “self” are changing: “I was raised for business and had my eye on being publicity director, then publisher, then president, and on up,” writes Cox. “Never once did I feel like I did not have that opportunity because of my gender.”
Diversity in Publishing
Cox points out that Carolyn Reidy currently holds the titles of president and CEO of a major international publishing brand; minority women, however, are underrepresented. A 2016 survey report conducted among thirty-four publishing houses reveals publishing staff and professional reviewers are mostly white.
Penguin Random House recently announced it no longer requires a college degree of applicants, in order to diversify its staff. The colleges publishers largely recruit from are private and white dominated, and the requirement does not reflect diverse society in which publishers live and sell.
A changing culture and striving for inclusiveness at all levels show that the publishing industry has come a long way.