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Gender Balance in Hugo Nominees

Disclaimer 1: I am not a statistician. I studied some stats as a psych major, but that was two decades ago. I’m pretty good with math, but don’t ask me to calculate standard deviations or give you exact models of statistical significance here.

Disclaimer 2: This is a simplified look at the gender breakdown of Hugo Award nominees from 2010 – 2015. I used binary M/F gender for simplicity.

I started by looking at the nominees in the four fiction categories: Best Novel, Best Novella, Best Novelette, and Best Short Story. Data comes from the Hugo Awards website.

Gender Balance in Hugo Fiction Nominees

I’ve seen a lot of back-and-forth about whether or not the Sad and Rabid Puppy campaigns were racist, sexist, homophobic, etc. I highly doubt Brad Torgersen (leader of the current Sad Puppy campaign) was deliberately, consciously, and intentionally trying to favor men over women. That said, the effect of the campaigns is pretty clear here, and breaks a pattern of better gender balance going back at least five years.

Next, I checked the other categories where a single individual was nominated. (Again, I was going for simplicity here.) Those categories include the Best Editor for Short and Long Forms, Best Professional Artist, Best Fan Artist, Best Fan Writer, and the Campbell Award for Best New Writer. The Campbell is not a Hugo, but as it’s part of the same voting process and ballot, I thought I’d include it.

Gender Balance in Hugo Nominees

Both the history and the effect of the 2015 puppy campaigns are less clear cut here. While I’m not a statistician, the balance of male and female nominees in 2015 seems to fall within the range of normal variation. It breaks the four-year trend of increasing female representation, but it’s not the drastic imbalance we see in the fiction categories.

What can we conclude from this? Not too much. Diversity and representation are intersectional, and can be examined in many different ways. This is just one.

What we can say is that, when you put everything together, the puppies have brought us the most male-dominated ballot in the past six years, sharply reversing a trend toward gender equality.

Hugo Gender Balance (Total)

Now, the first defense to this kind of thing tends to be, “I don’t care about gender (or race, or orientation, or whatever); I just want to read good stories.” To which I’d ask, “Okay…then why is it you seem to believe it’s mostly men writing those ‘good’ stories? Or is it just that your reading is biased toward male authors, so that’s all you know?”

How to wrap this up? I’m gonna do so by recommending some awesome female authors for folks to check out:

  • Marie Brennan
  • Nnedi Okorafor
  • Elizabeth Bear
  • Delilah Dawson
  • Aliette de Bodard
  • Karen Lord
  • SL Huang
  • Charlie Jane Anders
  • Ambelin Kwaymullina
  • Deborah Blake
  • Jaime Lee Moyer
  • Tanya Huff
  • Eugie Foster
  • Lois McMaster Bujold
  • Alethea Kontis
  • Seanan McGuire
  • Katherine Addison
  • N. K. Jemisin

I’ve reviewed many of these folks’ books over at Goodreads. If your reading has been rather imbalanced, there’s no time like the present to broaden your horizons.

Feel free to leave other suggestions in the comments!

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.



( 13 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 10th, 2015 08:24 pm (UTC)
Kari Sperring, obviously...
May. 10th, 2015 08:26 pm (UTC)
Obviously :-)
May. 10th, 2015 09:06 pm (UTC)
Pat Cadigan! Martha Wells! Greer Gilman! Jo Walton! Carla Speed McNeil!
May. 10th, 2015 09:41 pm (UTC)
Cat Valente! Beth Bernobich! Robin McKinley! Diana Wynne Jones! Kristin Cashore! Maggie Stiefvater! Barbara Kingsolver! Dorothy Dunnett! Sarah Rees Brennan! Ellen Kushner! Mary Robinette Kowal!

I could keep going.
May. 10th, 2015 09:57 pm (UTC)
Rosemary Kirstein! Science fiction in which the main character *actually does science* in puzzling out what "wizards" are doing in her apparently-fantasy world! The Steerswoman books are the best.
May. 11th, 2015 06:53 pm (UTC)
Oooh, that sounds pretty neat.

Also, I love that userpic. What's it from?
May. 11th, 2015 09:19 pm (UTC)
Thanks! The pic is from a brewery/hotel/hostel in Portland Oregon, the McMenamin's Edgefield. The interior is all painted with surrealistic mural things. Here's someone's photo of the whole work this came from: https://www.flickr.com/photos/jafryl/2976608241/in/photolist-hXRSh3-9JiBk-9hC3WV-49trC7-pkVCAj-6QpWPc-5x2TVK
May. 10th, 2015 11:22 pm (UTC)
Wow! That is some pretty impressive company to be in! Maria V. Snyder, Jeri Smith-Ready, Devon Monk, C.E. Murphy, Patricia Briggs, Patricia McKillip!
May. 11th, 2015 01:04 am (UTC)
Shira Glassman, whose books are all on sale in the $2-3 USD range on her publisher's website until midnight tomorrow :Db
May. 11th, 2015 04:41 am (UTC)
Sharon Lee, both on her own and with Steve Miller, Emma Bull. I'd think of more but I need to get back to my marking.
May. 11th, 2015 11:59 am (UTC)
Whether or not Torgerson is intentionally favoring men is one thing, but the Rabid Puppies definitely are. And that is observed the most in the Fiction categories.
May. 11th, 2015 02:59 pm (UTC)
To be honest, I tried not to get into intention with this. I just wanted to focus on the actual results.
May. 12th, 2015 04:44 am (UTC)
Ah Eugie. She is missed. (I spent most of Good Friday evening visiting with her widower)

Many authors of my acquaintance are of the female identification, although more in the horror and fantasy genres

Elizabeth Donald mostly writes horror, but ventures into SF now and then
TW Findley
Julian May for crossing Celtic myth and galactic intrigue
Tonia Brown is writing some really good steampunk
So does KZ Snow
Gabriel Belthir is writing and editing some interesting work in the field (but I'm biased)
( 13 comments — Leave a comment )


Jim C. Hines


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