Women in Science Fiction

Yesterday was International Women’s Day. There were all sorts of events to mark the day. But in one way, it saddens me to think we need such a day, because it means that there is discrimination against women.

This discrimination can take various forms, some of them utterly horrific. It is right that the more dire should hit the headline news. But these are supported and encouraged by the little ways in which women are belittled. One such is the way they are treated in the science fiction writing and publishing community.

Let me make this clear. A lot of people in this community treat women and men equally. It is the minority that don’t, but it is enough of a minority that makes a difference: women get less pay for the same amount of work; women are persuaded to hide their identity behind a nom de plume that is either neutral in gender or worse, male, in order to increase their pay and market presence; and women do not get anywhere near the fair share of awards given the proportion of literature that is published.

Steps have been taken in recent years to highlight this issue and some redress has happened to give women more equal opportunities. But it has not gone far enough in the right direction. In my view, this redress should not have been needed in the first place.

Worse, the lack of women writers in science fiction is clouding and detracting from what is excellence in the genre. Yes, science fiction is suffering from this issue. It is being constrained, held back and stopped from being something better.

What is better, you may well ask? That extra richness in both breadth and depth.

The sooner the discriminators realise they are shooting themselves in the foot by their actions and stop doing so, the better it will be for the whole of science fiction. Simples!

4 thoughts on “Women in Science Fiction

  1. It is sad that we need a special day for women, and you are correct, that it only reinforces the notion that we are lesser and of lower quality. I was just talking to another blogger about introducing Divine Feminine Week. I am now going to make this a year long project of planning for this week. It would be nice to hijack International Women’s Day and to do with the support of men and women as a united body.

    1. Good luck in your efforts, which I for one would find very welcome. Juliet McKenna has done some insightful posts on her blog: http://www.julietemckenna.com/ if they are of any help.

      At the moment she’s concentrating on the VAT for e-books debacle – and been to 10 Downing Street to get her point across on behalf of all those small publishers that are affected.

      1. Thank you so much for this update. It seems as if there is nowhere we can go to find some relief from overfed beaurocrats. I think when you strangle people’s capacity to self determine, all of the social problems you’re taxing them to fix will only grow bigger. Thank you again for the link, and I hope that other women will speak up.

  2. Science fiction so often features male heroes with females included for love interest. My novel ‘Mother Moon’ (hard SF) turns that notion on its head. Let me know if you’d like to read it.

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