Women, YA and the NYT Bestseller List

Yesterday, StackedBooks released a study on the gender of YA authors on the New York Times bestseller list. Conventional wisdom would tell you that the majority of bestseller YA authors are women. After all, young adult fiction is dominated by female writers. This domination is neglecting male readers. And on purely anecdotal evidence, the bulk of YA writers (or at least the ones I see on social media, which may be a different thing) are women. So it would make sense that the NYT bestseller list would be dominated by women as well.

Except that it's not.

I recommend checking out the original article for the full statistics and analysis (it's compelling, depressing stuff), but here's the jist: on average in 2013, 7 books in the NYT top ten have been written by men, and 3 by women. When you consider individual authors, rather than titles, the numbers get worse: 5 men appear, and only 2 women.

And yet we perceive the genre as "dominated" by female writers. 2 out of 7 names, or 3 out of 10 titles, is considered "domination."

Perhaps this should be unsurprising. Studies have shown that people perceive women as "dominating" a discussion when they speak 30% of the time, and only consider things equal when they are speaking 5-10% of the time. Typically, 30% of the New York Times list is written by women. So of course, they are perceived as taking up an unequally large amount of space in the genre.