On the occasion of the Digital Conference on Gender Equality in Culture & Media on 8 December 2020 in the context of the EU Council Presidency Ship of Germany, EWC President Nina George takes part as Keynote speaker and rapporteur on the European book sector on the issue “Women in Literature”.
Brussels, 8 December 2020
On the occasion of the Digital Conference on Gender Equality in Culture & Media on 8 December 2020 in the context of the EU Council Presidency Ship of Germany, EWC President Nina George take part as Keynote speaker and rapporteur on the European book sector on the issue “Women in Literature”.
For this task, the European Writers’ Council was collecting examples and information from the member organisations, to present projects, reports or best practice examples on the situation of womens writers and of woman in the book sector from the countries of EWC members.
The Conference is hosted by the European Commission in cooperation with the EU Council Presidency. Speaker and panelists are, among others, Mariya Gabriel, EU Commissioner for IRCE&Y, Sabine Verheyen MEP, Chairwoman of the Committee on Culture and Education of the European Parliament (CULT), Minister of State Monika Grütters MdB for Culture & Media Germany, Graça Fonseca, Minister of Culture, Portugal.
MONITORING and DATA: COUNTING WOMEN IN LITERATURE
#countingwomen project: #frauenzählen
The pilot study “The Lack of Visibility of Female Authors in the Media. Results of a Quantitative Survey” is the first result of the long-term research project #countingwomen #frauenzählen of the cross-association WORKING GROUP DIVERSITY of literature and book world under the lead of Nina George. In the aftermath of the “Round Table Discussion on the Role of Women in Culture and Media” which was convened by the Minister of State for Culture and Media Ms. Monika Grütters, experts who had participated in it, planned and realized the project #countingwomen in order to continue the survey independently. With this and further studies the project #countingwomen aims at a compilation of data reports on the visibility of female authors in literature reviews, in the awarding of literary prizes, in publishing programmes, in teaching materials in schools, in juries or in granting scholarships.
Research Team: Janet Clark, Prof. Dr. Carlos Collado Seidel, Nina George, Dr. Valeska Henze, Dr. Kirsten Reimers. Data Analysis: Prof. Dr. Elizabeth Prommer, Department for Media Research at University Rostock. Associations & Institutions Involved: Bücherfrauen e.V. – Women in Publishing, Mörderische Schwestern e.V., Netzwerk Autorenrechte, German PEN Centre, German Writers‘ Union/Verband deutscher Schriftstellerinnen und Schriftsteller (VS) in ver.di, SYNDIKAT – Association of German Language Crime Writers.
Translation of the full study text in English: Nathalie Lenore Geise and Marie-Lou Mehrhof.
Studies show that between 1967 and 2017, 86% of the literary prizes dependent on the Ministry of Culture had been awarded to men, as reported by the newspaper La Vanguardia:
The most important award, the Cervantes Prize, has only awarded four women compared to 38 men since it was established in 1976: María Zambrano (1988), Dulce María Loynaz (1992), Ana María Matute (2010) and Elena Poniatowska (2013 ).
The Women’s Institute has partially alleviated this with the creation on October 20 of the Celia Amorós Essay Prize, a renowned feminist and academic from Spain:
- Reading beyond the female: The relationship between perception of author gender and literary quality. By Corina Koolen. https://www.corinakoolen.nl
This thesis combines methods from sociology of literature and natural language processing to answer the questions: what is the relationship between author gender and the perceived literary quality of her work? And to what extent can textual qualities be ascribed to author gender?
An updated study can be found in Koolen’s latest work, published September 2020 “This is not ChickLit”: https://www.corinakoolen.nl/ditisgeenvrouwenboek/
- Literary quality in the eye of the Dutch reader: The National Reader Survey (Feb. 2020)
Project lead: Corina Koolen ( https://www.corinakoolen.nl ), together with Karina van Dalen-Oskama, Andreas van Cranenburgh, and Erica Nagelhoutd. Participating institutions: Huygens Institute for the History of the Netherlands, Amsterdam, the Netherlands, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, the Netherlands, University of Groningen, Groningen, the Netherlands, GfK, Amstelveen, the Netherlands. Abstract: What makes some novels literary? There is little agreement within literary studies on this question.
The two main approaches focus either on text-intrinsic factors (e.g., aesthetic, stylistic), or text-extrinsic social factors (e.g., author prestige, critics). Until now, there has not been a comprehensive study taking both text-intrinsic and social factors into account. The project The Riddle of Literary Quality examines both factors by connecting literary texts to the appreciation of those texts: can we identify textual characteristics that are connected to readers’ literary appraisal of texts? https://www.researchgate.net/scientific-contributions/Corina-Koolen-2107488615
(Started on 9 January 2021): www.FIXDIT.NU (fix this now)
Fleur Speet, Jannah Loontjens en Manon Uphoff started the action and campaign for diversity and gender equality “fix this now”. Main aim: to ask secondary school-teachers to mention more female writers in the list of books pupils have to read for their final exam – at least 50 percent! The core missions of FIX THIS NOW is also to plead for more diversity in media and ask journalists, writers, and poets whenever, where ever they have the opportunity:
—In debates, on television or in social media to mention female writers.
—Or, when organising book-clubs, dear book-shops: choose a female writer!
VISIBILITY OF WOMEN IN CRITICISM AND REVIEWS – European & International
Gender relations in literary criticism: a quantitative study. By Veronika Schuchter.
Literary criticism in figures – in Germany, Austria and Switzerland – www.uibk.ac.at and
Visibility of female authors in the media – in Australia.
The Stella Prize – The Count https://thestellaprize.com.au/the-count/2018-stella-count/
Visibility of female authors in the media – in USA and UK – of VIDA COUNT
Women in Literary Arts https://www.vidaweb.org
Female authors generate on average 30% less turnover than their male colleagues, according to the white paper of the Spanish authors’ association ACE, which compiled a comprehensive report together with the CMO CEDRO:
They also coincide with the figures provided by other research works carried out by the media, such as the documentary that TVE aired on the Day of the Writers in 2018:
A long-term study of SYNDIKAT (Association of German Language Crime Writers) revealed a gender reading gap between 15-25 % of less remuneration for female writers. But the gap between male and female is closing – and growing between young and mature writers: the best age for being paid for a reading is between 40 and 55 years. Over 70, writers of all genders are paid the lowest fees.
There are two fundamental pillars in the Norwegian authors’ economy – the procurement scheme and the grants. Both are regulated as to not benefit any particular gender. There is also precise regulations on gender equality both in boards that distribute collective means as scholarships, and public bodies/boards distributing public grants. An example (in Norwegian) is gender equality provisions applied by Norwegian Arts Council: https://www.kulturradet.no/fi/norsk-kulturfond/vis-artikkel/-/fagutvalg-for-norsk-kulturfond-2020-2021.
This is to ensure that no gender is being preferred when scholarships and grants are assigned. Statistics show that full equality is still not present, but the gender gap is about to close.
RECEPTION and LITERARY CANON
The project “Portuguese Writers in the Time of the Military Dictatorship and the Estado Novo” (Escritoras portuguesas no tempo da Ditadura Militar e do Estado Novo), is a result of an international partnership that aims to integrate the writing produced by women within the Portuguese heritage, given that, with regard to the 20th century, the canon of Portuguese literature is essentially masculine. More information: https://ielt.fcsh.unl.pt/projetos-de-investigacao-aprovados-pela-fundacao-calouste-gulbenkian/
More flagrant is the poor representation of women in the Real Academia Española RAE (Royal Spanish Academy). In all its history, only eleven women have been designated academics of it.
The first elected one was Carmen Conde in 1979 (Spanish poet, prose writer, playwright, essayist and teacher, who founded the Popular University of Cartagena, and almost forgotten among the great names of the Generation of 27). The second woman who entered the RAE in 1984 was Elena Quiroga, author of La soledad sonora o viento del norte, one of the most relevant female authors of the 1950s and 1960s.
Since 2010, the pressure of the feminist movement and women writers has been reflected with the entry of the writer Soledad Puértolas in 2010 (Premio Planeta with Queda la noche); the philologist Inés Fernández-Ordóñez a year later; the Catalan writer Carme Riera in 2013; the philologist Aurora Egido in 2014; the poet and translator Clara Janés, and the lexicographer and emeritus professor of Spanish Philology at the Pompeu Fabra University, Paz Battaner.
With these and other women who have been incorporated at the head of institutions such as the Dirección General del Libro (General Directorate of the Book), the voice of women has begun to arrive in the institutions that rule over the literary and language canon.
For Norwegian fiction writers the normative contract ensure that all authors, regardless of them being an established or a first-time author, male or female, will receive the same conditions and pay. This benefits not only the economic equality between age groups, but also between genders.