Journal Entry

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Gender breakdown for "Tumbarumba: a frolic of intrusions"

Since there's an ongoing conversation in speculative fiction publishing on gender representation in short fiction markets (where gender, I think, tends to get used as a proxy for all kinds of issues of inclusion, since it's relatively easy to measure and there's a gut feeling that there are, or ought to be, about as many women as men involved in the enterprise), I thought I'd offer -- as a data point -- the figures for Tumbarumba (the Turbulence-funded art project that Ethan Ham and I will be releasing December 1st).

On the "front end", where the user sits, Tumbarumba is a conceptual internet artwork, but on the "back end", from the perspective of the authors, it's an invitation-only anthology of short fiction. It was invitation-only because I don't really aspire to editing as a calling, so while I liked the idea of this project, I wanted to do as little editing work as possible on it. That meant asking people who I thought would be interesting, singly and mixed together, and who I had a strong sense would reliably produce something I would love. And then, of course, they had to actually have time and want to be involved with something as strange as this project.

I didn't want to ask too many people -- I had a limited number of stories I could take, and I wanted to try and get just those stories: any rejections would be a sign of inefficiency. In the end, I did reject some stories, I asked for lots of rewrites, and stories were pulled or didn't get done in time; but by and large it was a pretty efficient process nonetheless. I sent initial mails to 36 people -- some of them long shots. Twenty (56%) said yes or maybe, fourteen (39% of asked) submitted stories, of which twelve (33% of asked) will be fed into the Art Machine.

And here is the gender breakdown:

Tumbarumba: a frolic of intrustions gender stats
% male, of those asked58%
% male, of those who said yes or maybe65%
% male, of those who actually submitted71%
% male, of those accepted67%

Posted by benrosen at November 18, 2008 09:15 AM | Up to blog

I don't get it. So where's the female stats?

Posted by: Mom at November 22, 2008 09:52 PM

In this particular instance, all of our contributors happened to be either male or female.

I forgot to mention that. :-)

Posted by: Benjamin Rosenbaum at November 22, 2008 09:55 PM

I got that much. But how can you call it a gender breakdown when you only list the male stats?

Posted by: Mom at November 24, 2008 01:59 AM

I was a bit confused about that at first because I mentally added an "of" into the stats (i.e., "% [of] males who said yes or maybe").

But what Ben means is "The percentage of all who said yes or maybe who are male."

So the stats could also be presented as:

% female asked 42%
% female who said yes or maybe 35%
% female who actually submitted 29%
% female who are in the project 33%

Posted by: Ethan at November 24, 2008 05:48 AM

Yes, Mom, my snotty remark was meant to indicate that the female stats would be 100 minus the male stats.

It is true that the table could be interpreted as meaning "58% of all males were asked" -- this would, however, require me to have sent out over two billion emails, making me the King of All Spammers.

But, okay, okay, I will clarify the wording....

Posted by: Benjamin Rosenbaum at November 24, 2008 09:57 AM

Thank you, Ethan, for clarifying. So, Ben, the point is that even though you asked nearly as many females as males, the bottom line is you got only 33% females represented. It sounds like the percentage of girls we get (at best) at TIC Summer Camp, whose combination of computer learning and sports seems to attract scads of boys.

Posted by: Mom at November 28, 2008 06:44 PM

That would be TIC Summer Camp. And yeah.

Posted by: Benjamin Rosenbaum at March 17, 2009 05:19 PM
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