Literary Prizes Just for Women? Yay or Nay?

A must read article that asks a very interesting question! Does it speak Gender Equality to have a Literary Award just for women writers or does it put the whole notion backwards?
The fact that there were very few women nominees in spite of having 60% women authors begs a question at the same time how/what do we gain by having literary awards just for women! What do you think? Yay or Nay to Literary Awards for Women?

Poetic Parfait

Do you think there should still be literary prize categories just for women? Is it actually setting back the clock on gender equality or helping the cause?

Sometimes I have wondered about this point and today wanted to put it out to the crowd (aka you wonderful peeps). For example, there is the Baileys Woman’s Prize for Fiction. It has good intentions by celebrating excellence and originality in women writers around the globe. But, is separating out women really doing a disservice to the female gender? After all, doesn’t gender equality in its purest sense mean not differentiating between different prizes for each gender?

Interestingly, the original name for Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction was Orange Broadband Prize for Fiction. Note that there is no mention of the female gender in the previous title.

However, on the other hand (just to play devil’s advocate), maybe women do need to be…

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18 thoughts on “Literary Prizes Just for Women? Yay or Nay?

  1. Honestly, I don’t know. I guess it would depend on the reason, if I used initials because I was hoping to not give away my gender to the readers, then I guess I would keep it as is.
    If my reason is anonymity then I would rather use a pen name.

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  2. I agree it will look better if both men and women are competing for the awards, but the judging panel also needs to be fair to ensure that the content is judged based on the work and not on the gender preference.

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  3. Probably not. When I finished my first manuscript, I was told to use my initials on the book cover because the majority of readers would skip over women titles. I’d make a sad face it I could. Question to you. If you were in my shoes, would you redo your book covers with your full name?

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  4. I’d say ‘No’, awards for women only to my mind means women are not capable of winning if both male and female authors are included. It looks better when women come out on top when both are included. Then it’s only my thought. 🙂

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  5. Very valid point there, Meg! I think that’s what is happening now. In such a case it might help to have literary awards just for women writers. I believe that a solution could be to include a panel of judges with equal number of men and women writers. Probably that will help increase the number of women authors who deserve to be awarded for their work!

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  6. The other question to ask is who is deciding who gets these awards? Are the judges on the review panels equally divided between the genders? If a male dominated panel is choosing the prize winners does that skew the results toward authors that men prefer to read?

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  7. Well, couldn’t the subtle message also be perceived as they need an award of their own because they are not given their due for all the other ones.
    Here’s some interesting statistics about the Pulitzer:
    From 1917 to 1947, the committee awarded 27 prizes in the novel category, but only 12 went to women. After 1948, Sixty Pulitzer Prizes in fiction have been awarded. The final count for women fiction winners overall: 18. Ouch! Does not really speak balance, does it?

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