Women of Mad Science

Earlier this week, I received a link to an article on Slate entitled “Why Aren’t There More Woman Sci-Fi Writers?

Here at Mad Scientist Journal we are certainly well-intentioned and try to evaluate each story on its own merits. We don’t actively try to get more submissions based off of gender or anything. So we were curious about how we were doing in terms of gender equality. We aren’t a strict sci-fi market. We publish a healthy dose of fantasy, with the occasional horror or other genre along the way.

So we dug through our submission logs to see who submitted to us and who we accepted. I thought I’d share the results.

In just over a year of accepting submissions, we have received 220 submissions. That doesn’t distinguish regular submissions from re-submissions or anything. That’s just a count of how many people have submitted something to us through our standard means, plus a few that bypassed our regular submission form (but were easy for us to track down). This doesn’t include people we’ve specifically solicited something from. It’s just people who sent us a manuscript.

Of these 220, we accepted 121. About 55%. (Duotrope lists us as 60.6%, rating us #4 in terms of highest acceptance ratio for magazines and anthologies listed on their site. Yay us!)

Of those who submitted to us, 26% were women. That’s right, three times as many submissions have come from men than women. Again, this is a pretty raw count. We also have more men who have submitted more than one piece to us than women who have done so, especially when it comes to things like our mad scientist classifieds. The numbers start to balance out if you start looking at just the number of individuals who submitted to us. But I think it’s still biased towards men. We haven’t taken the time to really dig with that.

In terms of what we’ve accepted from this pool, 35% of our acceptances were for pieces written by women. Broken out by gender, our acceptance ratio is 48% of pieces submitted by men, 74% for women. Again, not planned, but certainly interesting.

So, how do we get more women to submit?

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3 Responses to Women of Mad Science

  1. Torrey says:

    I’m pretty sure you have to be cackling madly & rubbing your hands together with evil intent when you say,

    “How do we get more women to submit?”

    (also, thanks for the peek inside the numbers! Fascinating.)

  2. In regards to sci-fi, I think the problem is that it requires some form of science, and I’ve heard many girls were discouraged from learning science or from thinking that science was something they could learn easily. As an only child, I’ve always been a substitute for a son to my parents, so when I was little I was “Daddy’s little physicist” and “Daddy’s little chemist” and it was implied that science should be easy for me to learn and understand. But my father was quite a misogynist and kept saying that women couldn’t drive and so, even though he kept saying that didn’t apply to me, just to other women, I still don’t have a driver’s licence, nor did I ever try to take a driving test. And that’s really the important part: he said I couldn’t do it so I never tried.

    My advice for getting more women to write sci-fi is to tell little girls that there’s nothing more feminine, more appropriate for a young lady to learn, than science. And, of course, to show them that it’s easy and fun to learn. Keep at this pro-science campaign for about 10 years and 10 to 20 years from now we’ll have a new generation of women scientists and sci-fi writers. Then they will find a way to genetically engineer men to wash their own socks and cook their own lunches and especially to take their wives out on a proper date every week even 50 years after they got married. And yes, with all that extra spare time from having to do less washing and less cooking, they’ll be writing and submitting a lot more stories than men.

  3. This is an interesting topic. I’ll admit that I chose to write under the name K. Esta for a few reasons, the main one being: My full last name, Estabrooks, though only three syllables and spelled phonetically, seems to baffle people. I wanted something easy to remember and type into Google—assuming someone might someday care enough to do so.

    The benefit of gender neutrality, however, was not lost on me and was the main motivation behind K rather than Kate. My favorite genre is Sci-Fi and I have a strong science and engineering background from both my education and previous work. Even so, I was afraid that my writing wouldn’t be considered as seriously if the reader knew up front that I was a woman. Was my concern justified? I’ll admit, I was also curious to see what assumptions people would make if they didn’t know my gender.

    As it turns out, even though there is more than one post on my blog that should lead someone paying attention to the conclusion that I’m likely a woman (like reference to ‘my husband’, so either I’m a woman or a gay man)—and at no time have I ever deliberately written something to imply that I’m a man—there have been multiple comments, on my blog and elsewhere, where the readers’ assumptions are clear. For example, I’ve been referred to as ‘old chap’, and in one review of my serial novel, Dosterra, any reference to ‘the author’ was accompanied by the personal pronouns ‘he’ and ‘him’.

    I certainly agree with the above comment that children, male or female, will make a lot of assumptions about their abilities based on the feedback they get from their parents (and society as a whole) and those assumptions will stick with them for their entire lives. How many girls didn’t take an interest in science (science fiction, monsters, insects or other ‘gross’ things) because they were Daddy’s little princess, and how may boys didn’t take cooking or dance lessons because they were Mommy’s tough little man??

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