Sci-Fi Sexism By The Numbers: It’s A Mean Girls’ Club

On yesterday’s blog, I talked about my interaction with a professional paying science fiction publishing group who decided to berate me on Twitter for asking a simple question about anti-male discrimination in Science Fiction. It’s been obvious for a long time in publishing that men need not apply, you’re not welcome. But now in the 2% where men were actually allowed to compete, it’s been completely taken over by social justice warriors who don’t care in the least about equality, but want to actively harm men both as professionals and readers.

Many normal science fiction readers saw the results of this year’s hugo awards — where every individual award was won by a woman in a small group of insular votes of industry professionals, who are predominantly women or an extreme SJW, and so there’s no surprise there. This was contrasted to the Dragon Awards, where it was men who won, in a large sample made up of primarily science fiction readers — not industry professionals. The establishment in publishing freaked at this result, stating the sexism involved in the Dragons, while the Hugos wasn’t mentioned. The reason for their vitriol was their fear: their rampant politicizing of women’s sex through fiction is making people not read their works, and is as a result destroying their power bases.

The truth is, there’s no sexism against women in the professional paying field. Readers may discriminate by not buying these over-politicized nonsense rags, but if anything, these companies are actively not buying stories from men. It is much harder as a man to get published in the field than a woman — and this doesn’t even go over the “female protagonist” angle, where almost every protagonist has to be a “strong female lead” whether it’s a male or female writing. There’s plenty of research to be done there, but I think if you look at those numbers it’ll be even more staggering. None of these groups produce content for men/boys.

My first look was into Escape Podcast, the group running this Artemis Rising event where they spend a month only looking at women’s fiction. I brought the numbers to someone who works for the company who was mocking me, and naturally excuses were made about the rest of the industry. The original claim of Escape Podcast was that women are deterred from Science Fiction and therefore need additional representation. Here’s what Escape Podcast looks like through every month of the year:

Escape Podcast:

As you can see, they not only have their Artemis Rising month in May, but they have a second women-only month that was not part of an event. The months where there are more female stories than men outnumber the men dominated months by a significant margin, and the only month where there was a men-only function was one where they produced significantly less stories for whatever reason.  Overall, you are a full 50% more likely to get published as a woman than a man.

When I brought this number to the person mocking me, he told me that they have to do this because the industry is so discriminatory in favor of men. Another interesting tidbit was given to me: they get so many more SUBMISSIONS from men that it’s discouraging to them.

That fact was staggering to me. It means these numbers aren’t the result of average submissions and just who submits to the podcast because of their leanings, their submissions by men heavily outweigh women. I reached out to someone who works for the company for comment, but they have not replied as of the writing of this article.

Let’s as an exercise say that the male to female submissions ratio is roughly 4:1 (which I believe it is in science fiction as it seems to range via Submissions Grinder’s stats and what I know from Asimov’s publication rate of about 2.5:1 to more than 10:1 depending on the publication). Yet Escape podcast has a publishing rate of 2:3 in favor of women. It means the odds of acceptance per submission, just for the crime of being born a man are significantly lower in an already difficult market to get published (estimates of how many stories are accepted in these markets even without the demographic issues is in the 0.5-3% range depending on the outlet). The only conclusion is, even outside of Artemis Rising month, that Escape Podcast actively throws out stories by men for the sake of being men.

Now this could be a low sample size and not representative of most of the industry… let’s proceed through other pro-paying markets and find out what they look like.

Podcastle:

Podcastle is another podcast set up, with many of the same employees as Escape Podcast. You see here that the numbers look even worse for this podcast. This is in fact the 2nd most hostile market toward men out there by acceptance rates, but I wanted to show it with Escape Podcast because both are part of this Artemis Rising discrimination. The myth of needing to represent women more is looking completely false. But we’re still talking a range of about 160 stories out of, what I found to be, approximately 900 total stories in the pro-paying monthly magazine fiction market (disclosure: I was unable to find data on Science Fiction Daily because their website only posts “recent stories”. If you have all the information for the past year, I will provide that data and amend this post). Fortunately, I went through all of them for you, dear reader.

Clarkesworld:

Clarkesworld is a bit of an outlier (edited: updated 9/11/2017 after speaking with Clarkesworld) . Like much of science fiction, they publish quite a bit of foreign fiction that’s translated which Clarkesworld has told me is to give a breadth of different fiction. Clarkewsworld’s totals over 2016 and 2017 alike are going to be very close in terms of a male/female split in terms of publication.

A friendly professional author who will remain nameless so this author doesn’t have to risk the blackballing that is rampant is the industry did some math based on self-reporting statistics from submissions grinder. This author worked on Clarkesworld in particular, and it shows that despite the even-handedness of what’s published, when it comes to submissions it’s a different can of worms.

Based on Submission Grinder’s stats, there’s a likelihood that Clarkesworld gets about 545 submissions per issue of 6 stories. Via the site, about 436 of those would come from men, 109 would come from women, about a 5:1 ratio of submissions. Already, only 1.1% of submissions get accepted, but if there are slightly less men than women who get accepted, it makes it near impossible for a man to get published just because of the submission rates. Even if equal published it means a man’s odds are 0.7% while a woman’s odds are 2.8%.

Update 9/11/2017:. The magazine receives 60-70% male submissions to female submissions. They also receive a whopping 1200+ submissions per month, so about double what I was anticipating, wow! I have every reason to believe based on my conversation with Clarkesworld that they are a fair publication at this point and I will follow up with that on a future blog post detailing my conversation with them.

I still believe the Submissions Grinder data is interesting to look at. It may not apply directly to Clarkesworld in such proportions, but if my source is correct that Asimov’s publishes proportionately, it is an interesting look for the entire industry nonetheless.

The Smaller Markets: 

A few more here with Cast of Wonders (Part of Escape Artists), Diabolical Plots and Beneath Ceaseless Skies tell much the same story.

Where You Can Still Be A Man And Get Accepted

The oldest of the old guard of magazines still seem to be a safe place to submit if you’re a man. Now the numbers look very skewed in men’s favors and a feminist might cry foul here saying that these magazines actually discriminate against women. This is where they’re wrong.  A source that will remain nameless told me that the editor of Asimov’s, Sheila Williams, prints male to female stories in the ratio of submissions she receives. Even though the monthlies look a little suspect, if these periodicals still work in an old way of proportionate representation of submissions, this is probably an accurate picture of what Science Fiction authors make ups are overall, and what one should expect were that more the case. Even with these magazines skewing, the overall industry picture is dire for men, as we’ll see more examples of below.

The Worst Of The Worst Of Discriminatory Markets

Some are more discriminatory than others, and there’s certain markets where men need not apply at all, not even in the small numbers where they get printed. If the ratios of men to women submissions hold true in these markets, as a man, your story is likely thrown directly in the trash and maybe not even read. A frightening proposition.

Tor.com

No surprises here. Tor.com has led the way in their social justice narratives. Those who follow the blog know this dating back to #SpaceOperaWeek — a week in which they claimed was to celebrate the genre, but were mostly articles about fake discrimination both in the markets and the content of the pieces. I took the hashtag and talked about the actual art, much to the chagrin of Tor.com who banned the leading Hispanic voice in science fiction from commenting as a result.  Of course, being a man, they don’t want my voice anyway, clearly.

Apex Magazine

It’s more than a pattern at this point, it’s clearly rampant discrimination across the entire industry against men. I reached out to Apex’s editor for comment but have not received any response as of this writing.

Strange Horizons

In the middle of a fundraising drive, this is the 3rd most egregious market I could find. It’s no surprise, as they have editor Anaea Lay, who is part of the Mean Girls cabal at Codex Writers who banned me for no reason other than telling another mean girl there to stop picking on a writer. They called me “hostile” for questioning those antics and Ms. Lay proceeded to defame me on that site. They’re in the middle of a fundraising drive now. Hopefully no men are contributing to this cuz yikes, talk about self-hate!

Uncanny Magazine: (Most Man-Hating Bigoted Discriminatory Magazine and Hugo Award Winner)

Well, they like to Destroy Science Fiction as their kickstarters say regularly, and here you go. They are actively and intentionally doing just that. This was the first magazine I questioned regarding when they were going to do something for men, the magazine shot me some nasty remark back in public, wholly unprofessional, and blocked me. No wonder — they are obscenely hostile according to the numbers!

Conclusions:

If you’re a man, even with the skewed results of the legacy three magazines of Asimov’s, Analog and F&SF, that are vocal about the fact that they’re proportionate in representation of submissions, you’re hosed. An analysis of all the markets that accept these submissions on a monthly basis (I left out Lightspeed Magazine from graphics but are included in the total which has dead even results), the total discrimination against men is big. The totals of all stories published in this market survey over a year are:

Men: 426

Women: 487

Which means women have a 14.3% advantage just in sheer numbers of stories published. If the industry holds with ratios of 4:1 submissions, and say the accepted represents about 1% of all submissions, it means there’s about 91,300 submissions in the industry. Rough estimates puts men at 73,040 submissions and women at 18,260 submissions.

Update 9/28/17: I added in Intergalactic Medicine Show into these numbers. Once alerted to the magazine, I added it for accuracy. The overall rates did not change much though they do skew slightly toward males in publishing.

Complete acceptance rate odds:

Men: 0.58% 

Women:  2.67% 

Staggering. Men are at an extremely severe disadvantage in the industry. Of course there’s anthologies and all that — and those mostly get their big name authors and only have a couple slots for submissions anyway based on editorial invites. There are several women only anthologies per year, and never any men’s only.

Really, if you’re a man, you cannot submit to these markets. It is a waste of time for your career because you will fail, and it’s because you’re a man. If you’re intent on being in this industry I highly recommend taking an androgynous or female pen name so you don’t get discriminated against, and don’t give the editors clues to your sex until after a story’s been accepted.

And if you’re white, it gets worse. I didn’t track race because it’s very hard to do and I don’t have time to look up everyone’s profile, but of the non legacy 3 magazines, there were only a handful of white acceptances, many from the same couple of authors who already have names and probably weren’t blind submissions. You will not get an acceptance as a white male ever. Self-Publishing and indie markets are your only options, sad as it may be. The discrimination against whites who happen to be male is frankly at near blackballing levels. It’s utterly insane.

For those who are women cheering this on: I’ll also note for you that I see the same handful of names across these magazines. Most these magazines have about the same 50 authors they print over and over, you’re competing for a smaller spot than you think even with your better odds than men. The submissions aren’t truly open, and if we opened that can of worms, the stats would get far worse I’m sure, but this is the best I can do under the assumption that everyone is equal, which we know is not true.

As the Hugo and Dragon awards showed us, there’s a huge disconnect between what the industry insiders hail and what fans of the genre want to read. Don’t give up hope, but these institutions are beyond repair. Don’t support them just to keep these markets going, as many authors do. They are only out there to hold your career down.

 

58 thoughts on “Sci-Fi Sexism By The Numbers: It’s A Mean Girls’ Club

  1. To be fair to Diabolical Plots, they do blind submissions. David Steffen doesn’t know who the author is until he actually accepts the story.

    Honestly, I wish everyone would do that. Then it wouldn’t be about what box you check, it would be about the story.

  2. So when you say “Where You Can Still Be A Man And Get Accepted” you imply that you cannot be accepted elsewhere, but your own analysis shows that men are accepted elsewhere.

    Also, your percentages are off by a factor of 100%. You want to divide the difference by the initial, not the final by the initial.

        • I’m not. I just did a lot of research and wrote a very time intensive aritcle, you are the one who came here and nitpicked the way my cells lined up rather than looking at my heavily researched topic which makes you the troll homie. And all you do is just come and say negative stuff to me ever. Why not go troll the mean girls who are shutting your own people out of SF.

  3. Ahhh, Strange Horizons. Back when I was a newbie looking for venues I stumbled onto them via SFWA. They were the only magazine to proudly make their militant SJWism obvious right out there on their site. Incidentally, they were the only one I decided not to bother considering as a possible venue.

    Who knows what made me do that.

  4. Interesting. I can’t help noting that the three magazines that apparently don’t discriminate against men (Analog, Asimov’s, F&SF) are also the only three with any significant readership (other than writers). I can’t imagine most Sci-Fi fans have even heard of Strange Horizons etc., hence these venues having to constantly crowdfund from within the writing community to keep themselves going.

    They’ve chosen to put a political agenda ahead of being commercially viable – which is their choice to make, of course, but does imply that you aren’t missing out of much by not being accepted there (assuming your goal in publishing is for your work to reach an audience).

  5. Pretty sure that the short story market isn’t like a raffle where buying more tickets gets you a better chance of winning. I think the quality of the story you write has some influence on whether or not it gets published.

    Write a really good story, and you boost your chances of getting published close to 100% regardless of who you are.

    If you’re not getting published, maybe it’s not so much the number of theoretical “slots available” for men and more that the story isn’t good enough?

    • It is statistically improbable–to put it very mildly–that the men submitting stories are so much worse on average than the women submitting stories as to justify the wide discrepancy in male- and female-published short stories through story quality alone. It is much more likely that the stories are not actually being chosen with respect to quality but are being weighted by demographic factors such as gender–and thus that truly meritorious stories are being unjustly dismissed from consideration simply because the author was male.

      • Yeah I’m hearing that now. In this big of a sample size that is a disingenuous argument to go “WOMEN ARE BETTER!” When these magazines actively state they’re preferring women to try to shore up women numbers — and they do state that, the whole point of this research was because of that — it actually is more reasonable to conclude the opposite.

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  8. You should revise this to include Lightspeed. If you want an accurate representation of the field you should include everyone, not just the numbers that you feel like including. Dead even numbers are just as interesting as numbers in which the proportions are different. That’s how data analytics work.

    The number of published authors is pretty darned close. Yes, right now, in the cases that you chose to publish, a few more women were published than men. Over the past years, the numbers were reversed. In future years, the numbers will likely swing back and forth in each direction. I’m not really sure what the point of the exercise is when the numbers aren’t all that different.
    Men: 426
    Women: 487

    As for the comparison to submissions versus publications, publishing isn’t only about publishing the absolute best story you get. It’s about publishing the best selection of stories that will attract the readers and the advertisers and the future submissions that you want to get. There are a lot of different factors that play into who gets published and it goes way beyond gender. The same is true for college admissions at tech schools to hiring at tech companies…or anything else where applications/acceptances are involved.

    This would be a very interesting article if you had included all of the available data and also addressed the varying factors (including readership, target markets, advertising, etc) that each magazine has to consider when making its publication choices. Right now, it feels very skewed. If you do this again, it would be great to get a wider view of the market and data.

    • I mentioned lightspeed just didn’t put a graphic. 47 male 47 female stories it’s in the article. Thank you for your concern. Those are included in those total numbers too.

      I included every pro market that has been a monthly magazine that takes submissions that I could think of.

      Those numbers are not close. That’s a full 16% different. When the submissions numbers — of which multiple editors said HEAVILY skew male, as does the reporting data on Submissions Grinder — are factored in, it’s a big difference. Men need not apply. Especially if white.

      • To be rigorous, you’ll need to analyze all the magazines listed as qualifying markets for SFWA membership. Otherwise, you are just cherry picking.

        • Did I miss any? I asked around and this was what I got plus what I already knew of. I tried to hit everything for real that’s a monthly mag that pays pro rates and takes submissions.

  9. Thanks for self-identifying yourself as someone who I will never have any interest in reading further until you grow up, get a clue and stop whining like a spoiled child. Grow a pair, broflake.

    I have been reading SF & Fantasy for almost 50 years, read many excellent male AND female authors, and have been disgusted to see the pathetic antics of a few whiny misogynist male children who never grew up, like the Sick Puppies, who would rather whine instead of doing the hard work of being an author. You STILL have everything going for you in our male-dominated culture, but don’t seem to be willing to do the work. Success is not handed to you just just because you are a man anymore, thankfully. Never was, though it gave you a few advantages. You have to put in the time and do the work. Always have. DO THE WORK.

    Anger is fear in disguise. Conquer your fear, don’t direct it to hurt others. Do the work instead.

    Quit being afraid you are not good enough and lashing out. You are just going to prove yourself right and fail. Do the work instead.

    Quit whining and wasting time cherry-picking statistics to try and justify your failure and instead JUST DO THE WORK AND PAY YOUR DUES ABD TAKE THE TIME as a writer, if you want to succeed.

    Quit expecting overnight successs just because you are a man. That ship has sailed. It is never coming back. Get over it. Do the work.

    Your article is SO full of biased bullshit, it is just pathetic. Grow up and quit your pathetic whining. It’s unmanly and childish. REAL MEN AND WOMEN DO THE WORK.

    I will say you do seem able to write fiction and fantasy….this article is GREAT proof. Just sadly misdirected.

    Do better, do the work, or go away and quit wasting our time and yours on pathetic whining like this. There are plenty of other good male and female authors if you want to be a whiny quitter, as you seem to.

    Quit wasting our time.

    • Self-Identifying as what? I identify as the leading Hispanic voice in Science Fiction. Do you hate Hispanics?

      Only time waste is a multi-paragarph essay telling me how you hate me and won’t read me no matter what — then lecturing me on my writing even though you said you will never check out my writing. Irony. It’s all about politics of hate from your folk who control this indsutry. That’s why I expose it. Stop doing it.

    • Last time I checked, the founder of Sad Puppies is buying a mountain with the money he makes from his fiction royalties. I know very few people in this industry who work harder than Larry Correia. Also, it’s super cute that you’re telling Jon to “do better” when he’s already an award-nominated author. Typical puppy-kicker behavior.

      The point, which seems to have sailed right over your ranting, repetitive head, is that women are hardly “under-represented” in SFF. I have been reading SFF for 40 years and am pretty disgusted at the behavior of certain people myself, though I suspect we fall at opposite ends of our disgust spectrum. Were you also disgusted by the fact that Toni Weisskopf was no-awarded twice by Hugo voters? Asking for a friend.

    • Also, Mr. Davis, I’m going to call you on your utter bullshit line that Larry Correia (I mean, you’re talking about Puppies here, and he’s the founder, so you’re lumping him in there, right?) is a misogynist. For one thing, have you seen his missus? She would never put up with that kind of crap. Also, in case you missed it, he nominated his lady publisher for a Hugo. His female characters are hardly shrinking violets waiting to be rescued by their men–instead, they are Awesome Proactive Women Who Kick Ass and Take Names. And he blurbed my book, and book bombed it.

      Once at a ComicCon, he was holding forth in the hall to a group of (mostly male) fans. I hovered around in the periphery waiting for him to finish so I could say “Hi.” He pulled me forward and said “Everyone, this is Julie Frost. She’s awesome.”

      Your nonexistent argument is invalid. Screw you and your name-calling, sir, and perhaps do your own research and reading instead of walking in lockstep with the (stupid, stupid) Narrative.

  10. I just did an “analysis” of the gender of those featured in John Scalzi’s Big Idea posts for YTD 2017. For those of you that don’t know, John Scalzi is the author you are required to anti-virtue signal towards to join the club…

    Anyway, the break down is 40 male, 38 female. Surely there’s some mistake?

    • LOL. I see someone is very aggressive and opted to call me a bunch of names over data. He’s also wrong that I discounted lightspeed in my totals. I did not. You might want him to correct that so he doesn’t have false information. But it’s not about that is it? It’s just about attacking. 🙂

  11. Where did you get the 4:1 ratio from? There’s nowhere on my Subs Grinder profile for me to record my gender, nor is there a way for me to see other people’s personal data anyway–so I don’t know how you’re claiming that as a source.

    I see from your Twitter timeline that Cirsova claims a 4:1 M:F ratio in its submissions, but it also claims a 30% acceptance ratio which is 2 orders of magnitude higher than Clarkesworld, F&SF, Asimov’s etc. (going by the Subs Grinder, where these data are shown!). It’s a new market less than two years old and it’s a low-paying semi-pro–neither of which are problems in themselves, as everyone starts somewhere, but both are strong reasons why Cirsova is unlikely to be representative of the established pro-paying markets you’re passing judgement on here. Extrapolating out from a single magazine is statistically useless anyway, but this seems a particularly poor (even irrelevant, as you’re not discussing semi-pros) example to go from.

    Furthermore Cirsova has a graphic of Vivian James in its sidebar and a prominently displayed “Gamergate” tag in its wordcloud, both of which are likely to put female submitters off.

    Given that your entire conclusion is based on this 4:1 figure that you gloss over so quickly early on, I’d say its essential you demonstrate rigor in deriving this ratio to support your claim at all.

    I’m not sure “submissions” is a useful metric anyway–“submitters” would be more relevant, as you’re trying to evaluate the chances of a writer being published, not of a story being published. And if the gender ratio of submitters is 51:49 over those 90,000 (US 2010 census of the general population; no guarantee this is relevant, of course, but it seems a more reasonable starting position over this sample size than “one semi-pro magazine told me”), you get a result of 51% of the population producing 53% of the published fiction–a much less dramatic figure than what you’re claiming here on the basis of a swiftly asserted 4:1.

    Without any ability to defend that 4:1 ratio–and given that very few markets gather demographic data on submission, I doubt the data are even available–your conclusion is useless.

    • Ok. Every magazine I’ve talked to has had much higher male to female submission rates. Whether they give me an actual ratio or not depends on whether the magazine editors are reasonable people to me so far.

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