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!