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14 May 2013 @ 09:04 am
More on genderflipping  

After last week’s post on genderflipped covers, my friend Flit dug up an article she remembered reading about a a bias study regarding female playwrights.

The article is well worth reading, but for the TL;DR folk among us (sorry, I only just learned that TL;DR meant “too long; didn’t read”, so now I have to use it at least once), the take-away is “in an as-controlled study as is possible, it turns out women discriminate against female playwrights more strongly than men do, even though plays written by women make more money.”

That doesn’t really do the article justice, but it’s as close as I can get in a sentence-long summary. Go read it, really, if you’re at all interested in the topic at hand.

The reasons behind the above two take-aways are complex. It appears that women discriminate against women more strongly because they percieve that if they don’t, when they bring too many womens’ work to the table, the men around them will dismiss it/them. So they’re culling early. And it appears the reason womens’ works make more money is that people will take a chance on a promising young male playwright and produce his play, but will tell a promising young female playwright “Now all you need to do is write a hit!” and only after a truly remarkable script has been written will it be produced.

The latter in particular seems to me to fall in line with what I’ve read any number of times regarding women submitting material to anthologies/editors/conference papers/etc: that women are accepted in higher proportion relative to the percentage of submissions, because the work is of higher quality. This is due, evidently, to women being taught that they have to be perfect before they can risk trying, because anything less will fail.

This is not saying men will throw any old shit to see if it sticks, but evidently that they’re trained to believe that they should try, whereas women are less so trained.

So that may in effect be the answer to the Great Social Experiment I’d like to try, the one of writing two series of the exact same type, one under a male name and one under a female name. (Although to properly balance it I couldn’t even write one under CE Murphy, because that’s a name with a known quantity and reader base, which would skew the results. They’d have to be two equally unknown (or known) names, which makes it an even more impossible project.) Or perhaps that actually has no reflection at all on what the results of a Great Social Experiment might be. But it does feel like it all ties together, although of course the way it ties together most basically is “Society: it am broked.” @.@ :)

(x-posted from The Essential Kit)

irishkateirishkate on May 14th, 2013 09:37 am (UTC)
I wonder if you could get it to work by writing the same story and selling it twice under two different names - no - that wouldn't work... the publishing company would have to be in on it which would defeat the purpose...
kitmizkit on May 14th, 2013 12:43 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I keep thinking even just trying to pitch one story to two editors at each house, but since final decisions are made en masse, that wouldn't really work either... :)
The Bellinghmanbellinghman on May 14th, 2013 01:44 pm (UTC)
In software development too there are few female applicants. On the other hand, it's not unknown for the success rate of those applicants to approach 100% because (as you indicate in your example) the quality is so much higher. We've only got one woman in this department currently, but it's almost entirely because we get very few trying to join.
kitmizkit on May 14th, 2013 01:48 pm (UTC)
On the one hand, it's *wonderful* they're so competent. OTOH...argh!
The Bellinghmanbellinghman on May 14th, 2013 02:53 pm (UTC)
I think experienced interviewers start accepting them on sight.

(We did have one who was a bit of a waste of time and who departed after half a year, but she was the exception. And we're quite prepared to employ people working from home from the other side of the world - literally so: our last two women were working from Kyoto and NZ, though the former is now back in this office after two years away. The latter got herself a job in her home town after a year or so and is no longer with us.)

But women trainees in this field? Almost non-existent. The ones I have encountered have tended to be in the big companies - the typical small-company programmer is almost stereotypically male. And no longer young, the way it was when I started - our two most recent hires have been over 50.

(All the above being In My Experience.)
Alix (Tersa): Arnold--bleh! (tersa)tersa on May 14th, 2013 04:49 pm (UTC)
And did you know that 'teal deer' is another variation of tl;dr? That one took me forever to suss out, haha.

Otherwise: what you said is stuff I've heard before. It's true, but sad. :/

ruford42 on May 15th, 2013 01:43 am (UTC)
Hrmm is it bad if your first take away from the article is wha?!? There are still playwrights in this day and age? Who knew?!? Ok, that might be a little stretch, but given that I can count the number of men I know who (will admit that they) like musicals on my fingers -- and realizing the number who like plays is actually fewer than that...I have to wonder if playwright isn't a self selecting field for where one gender tends to excel?

Likewise in technology, it's rare to encounter a woman -- especially once you're past the tech support and graphic/web designer stages. Even odder, at least half of the women I've known who were (and likely still are) competent in the more technical areas such as programming and system administration...have left the field altogether and gone into different careers ranging from teaching to organ tuning.

Now while there are numerous stories about women who have distinguished themselves and risen through the ranks, but this is also a field where women also rank among the pioneers with the likes of Ada Lovelace being credited with being the first computer programmer and Admiral "Amazing" Grace Hopper is sometimes credited with the first use of the term "bug" to refer to malfunctions in electromechanical computers.

Now I realize that not everyone who enters the computer field bothers to delve into it's history. Furthermore, it seems that most of the women I've encountered who liked working with numbers (and thus math), tended to go into business or finance.

I'm left wondering how much of the gender biases in these fields is related to external pressures and criticisms to people entering the field -- and how much of it is based on the general appeal within a given gender?
silkiemom on May 15th, 2013 05:12 am (UTC)
Thanks for the link to that playwriting study. I am glad that there is no place for comments, because after seeing that 60% of the ticket-buying audience is female, I envision the comments asking, "But what about the MENZ audience? We need to have more plays for them to view!"