I saw this list of life-changing books, and couldn’t help but notice the comparative lack of women on the list, even when it came to fiction. Of more than 70 titles, a mere 7 were by women (2 of those co-authored with men, and 1 was a biography about a man). Less than ten percent.
I don’t want to pick on the author of the list, because I see this happen time and again. I’m sure it wasn’t intentional. He may yet be unaware. But it makes me wonder where this deficiency starts:
- from a lack of women in the literature of habits and productivity (I feel like I have noticed this since starting to seek out female voices in this sphere) – and is this due to publisher gatekeeping or author self-selection in what they write about?
- from different marketing angles used to sell women’s works in those genres – do men read Gretchen Rubin and Laura Vanderkam or are they marketed to a female audience? (Not that I would necessarily include their books but they’re the biggest women’s names I can think of in the genre) Or a real, different way in which women write about these things? Are women writing in this field for women, perhaps specifically speaking to mothers? Or writing in an emotional way that conflicts with traditional masculinity respected in the business community?
- or a cascading succession of best of lists created by people who decided what was worth reading from older lists that centered male authors? Does more effort need to be taken to seek out other voices?
I think this is just a sign of how important it is to be conscious of who we are reading in addition to what. Men and women, Black and white, straight and queer, cis and trans, disabled and neurodiverse as well as able-bodied and neurotypical. Because I can’t believe that women only have ten percent of the wisdom to share.