Or do men write better than women?
It depends on who you ask.
As a librarian whose main job is to select items for people who can’t get to the library, I can tell you reading tastes are highly individualized. I also know I send out as many books by women as I do by men.
Unfortunately, the judges of most major literary prizes seem to feel differently. Women are consistently, well, shorted, when it comes to the short lists of such awards. Since there are many excellent blog posts and articles about this issue, I won’t go into here except to say the subjects many women write about — families, love, daily life — are seen as trivial in the “literary world.”
Except when a man writes about them.
I don’t get it. But I’ve always had difficulty understanding someone who thinks a woman’s work (of any kind) is of less value simply because it was done by a she rather than a he. I remember reading somewhere that the original “typewriters” (a person using what we now would call a typewriter) were men. The job was viewed as too strenuous for a woman … until they realized they could pay women less money to do it. Suddenly, it wasn’t strenuous at all, but the perfect career path for a female. Unfortunately, I can’t find reference to that article now. (I’m sure a male blogger would have.)
As I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to believe the value of work has more to do with who’s doing it than what the job actually is. But you don’t want to get me started on that (just ask The Engineer), so I’ll return to the subject at hand.
In an effort to be objective, I will point out that it’s rare for a man to win the RITA, which is given each year to recognize outstanding published romance novels and novellas, probably because few men write in the romance genre.
Fair enough. Not many women win the Spur awards (given to recognize excellent writing in the western genre). I’m okay with that too. Not many women write westerns.
If fewer women wrote literary fiction, I’d accept the same reason for the dearth of women winning those awards.
But that’s not the case.
So, who writes better? Women? Or men?
A fairer question might be, do you prefer to read books written by women or men?
Or does it depend on the book?
All of the above?
I pick “all of the above.” How about you? Leave a comment to tell me what you think.
Still, it’s good to know the statistics (as seen below) would seem to indicate that women are, in fact, better writers than men.
Disclaimer: I chose to write about this subject after Grammarly, an online grammar checker, contacted me. They volunteered the use of their info graphic (above) and will be donating $20 in my name to Reach Out and Read (http://www.reachoutandread.org) as a thank you for featuring their name, website and graphic in this post.
Further reading on sexism in literary prize giving
Literary Women, Literary Prizes. Not Often to Be Found in the Same Room
Man Booker Prize Winner Eleanor Catton Targets Literary Sexism
by Emily Keeler
The Second Shelf: On the Rules of Literary Fiction for Men and Women
by Meg Wolitzer