I have been looking for an agent for a short children's book, and looking through the Children's Writer's & Illustrator's Market listings. Every one of them that I saw was a woman. Taking a look at the book publisher listings, I found that most of the editors and founders were also women. My Writer's Market came yesterday and I perused it briefly just because, well, I'm a geek, and many of those listings also listed female contact names.
That got me thinking about all of the lovely writers who have been kind enough to give me advice over the past couple of years, and all but one of those has been a woman. The ladies at the WAHM writers' board are of course women, but then so are most of the writers at Absolute Write. I used to think of a writer as some kind of Hemingway/Faulkner type, typing alone at a typewriter with a bottle of Scotch nearby. Now I think of a writer as a woman at home trying to write with kids underfoot.
Thinking that this must be some kind of new phenomenon that has made women dominant in the industry, I tried to find some stats. As far as I can tell, there aren't any. But, I found out a few startling things. The first is that the surge of women writers isn't limited to the West- women in Iran are writing books in higher numbers than ever before. The number of women writers in Zimbabwe are also rising. I thought this must be a new phenomenon, and in some countries it certainly is. But in the West, it's just business as usual.
Take a look at all of the British women writers from the Regency. From that era most people can name Austen and Mary Shelley, but there were multitudes of women novelists writing away in their corsets and empire-waist dresses. Perhaps I'll join them, though it'll likely be in sweat pants.