Inequality in Book Reviews: Does it Matter?
Written by
Randy Susan Meyers
November 2010
Written by
Randy Susan Meyers
November 2010
The first time I looked for a job, Help Wanted was divided into three sections: Men, Women, and General. If memory serves me (I doubt it) men’s jobs were the professional ones, women’s were the handmaiden ones, and general included dishwashers and drivers. Trust me, the career paths were separate and not equal. I remembered those categories while writing this post (which I wish I wasn’t writing) when I came across the terms microinequity and micro-affirmation, first coined by Mary Rowe, who defined micro-inequities as “apparently small events which are often ephemeral and hard-to-prove, events which are covert, often unintentional, frequently unrecognized by the perpetrator, which occur wherever people are perceived to be ‘different.’" A micro-affirmation, in Rowe's writing, is the reverse phenomenon. "Micro-affirmations are subtle or apparently small acknowledgements of a person's value and accomplishments. They may take the shape of public recognition of the person, "opening a door," referring positively to the work of a person, commending someone on the spot, or making a happy introduction. Apparently "small" affirmations form the basis of successful mentoring, successful colleagueships and of most caring relationships. They may lead to greater self-esteem and improved performance." On the front page of today’s Boston Sunday Globe is an article entitled: “About-face at Harvard: A push is on to make the portraits on the walls— white men, almost all — reflect the diverse face of the university today.” In this article, Tracy Jan reports: “There’s a significance to portraiture, in demonstrating to people of all backgrounds that their presence and contribution are appreciated,’’ said Dr. S. Allen Counter, director of The Harvard Foundation for Intercultural and Race Relations, which for eight years has been quietly commissioning portraits of distinguished minorities and women to hang in Harvard’s hallowed halls. “We simply wish to place portraits of persons of color and others who’ve served Harvard among the panoply of portraits that already exists,’’ Counter said. “We will not displace any portrait, just simply add to them.’’ A micro-affirmation of great proportions. Also in today’s Sunday Boston Globe are four full reviews of books by men, no full reviews of books by women. (“Short Takes,” a column of brief reviews covered two books by women and one by a man.) Monday through Saturday, during the past three weeks, there were 17 reviews of books by men and one review of a book by a woman. Microinequality. Last weekend, when I briefly touched on this on my Facebook page, a friend asked “but how many books by men vs. women are published?” I’d love to know and spent too many should-be-writing hours looking, but I CONTINUED (this long post is continued on Beyond The Margins)

Let's be friends

The Women Behind She Writes

519 articles
12 articles

Featured Members (7)

123 articles
392 articles
54 articles
60 articles

Featured Groups (7)

Trending Articles

  • Ana Sharma

    Randy, many authors publish under their initials to avoid disclosing a female first name. I am a physicist for living and I experience those differences you mentioned everyday. I hate to be patronized...
    As far as books are concerned, women are "expected" to be writing romance and girly things while men are supposed to more interesting subjects.
    The best we can do is to keep writing!
    Cheers, Ana