The other day I asked if there was a gender bias affecting student reading habits. It was a callback to a piece in the NY Times about boys and books and reading.
In the world of teaching, I am not sure what the numbers look like but I’d venture a guess that the profession of education (and classroom teaching in particular) are dominated by females. More women are at the front of our rooms… by a lot.
And more women are behind the desks of our libraries. By a lot. (What’s left of our libraries, anyway. A tragedy I’ll save for another day’s discussion.)
And, as an author, an overwhelming amount of the people with whom I work in the publishing industry are female, too. All of my book editors have been female. (I’ve now published with 4 different houses.) Almost of the people in the school and library divisions are female. Almost all of the people with whom I currently work with in the PR departments are female. There are occasional males around – my agent is male, certainly some copy-editors and company employees and the such – but indeed, book publishing, libraries and teaching are dominated by the ladies.
That’s just plain as day.
The NY Times article I mentioned above, however, points a bit of a finger at this as a potential cause for our dilemma with boys and reading. Thing is, I don’t think I ever noticed that the world of books, reading and literacy was a world being dominated by the ladies until I read the article. Gender, for me, was a non-issue. I saw ability and competence, not feminine bias, as driving factors.
For me, it’s never been about the sex of the person; it’s been about their ability. Yet, am I naive? Is something seeping into the world of books which we can’t quite put our finger on and yet is having an influence we might not want to admit.
Does it take a gal to reach a gal? Does it take a guy to reach a guy?
On one hand, I don’t think so. On the other hand, I just wrote a book called THE DOWNSIDE OF BEING UP which is a comedy about an 8th grade boy who suffers (like all 8th grade boys do) from a tragic case of unpredictable erection-itis.
Could a woman have written that book? Perhaps. Perhaps not. I dunno. But my editor on the book is female and she did one heck of a great job as far as I’m concerned. And not once do I recall her gender being a factor – much less an impeding factor – in our process.
BTW, can I mention that it feels a little bit as if I am nearing “the third rail” by even raising this topic, risking wrath and accusations of me being a sexist simply by even bringing this subject up?