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Further to this discussion, some polls at instant_fanzine asking which authors people have read: please answer this one, this one and this one if you're a man; and please answer this one and this one if you're a woman.

EDIT: All, and indeed sundry, should feel free to pimp these links far and wide.
 
 
 
 
 
 
If you want to declare the polls closed at some point, I'll dump the data into Excel and make some pretty graphs for you.
Oh, marvellous! This saves me having to do it. [g]

I'm tempted to do a followup with "I have read but disliked" versus "I have read and liked", but that might be getting too complicated.
Also less empirical.
OK, the polls have 120+ votes each and don't seem to be rapidly accumulating more, so I declare them closed. Graph away. :)
Preliminary data is here. I have lots of pretty graphs but they're not uploading properly (grr) and I have to run off but I will make them into jpgs and upload them when I get back. In the meantime I've pulled out what I think are the most interesting stats and put them on the "notable data" tab.

And yes, before anyone asks, green is for girls, orange is for boys, and women always come first. *)
Also, seeing as the original question had to do with the existence of an unconscious bias against female authors that might prevent men from buying their novels, the issue is whether men are more or less likely to read women, not whether they're more or less likely to like their writing.
Well, yes. I'm just intrigued that the men-for-women poll is attracting "I tried X, but never again" comments, whereas the women-for-men poll isn't. (Except ajr's comment about Le Guin.)
I've tried to read Cherryh's Downbelow Station twice, but each time bounced off the exposition and numerous characters. I still ticked Yes, because I tried.

I must just not like women authors.

NOTE I AM NOT SUGGESTING THE ABOVE IS LITERALLY TRUE ;-)
I had that issue with the first Cherryh I tried, but I found that if I switch into "nonstandard-english-using author" mode, I'm fine. Mostly, this requires turning off the inner editor and to some degree the inner reader. It's not that Cherryh doesn't write coherent sentences, they just don't seem, to my brain, to be the same kind of sentences that everyone else using English uses. But I like them once I switch over.

I'm now pondering Luminous, as variant English grammars battling it out...
I might have been more expository in comments had I not been doing the poll during my tea-break at work. Because I was interpreting 'read' quite loosely to mean anything I had got a certain way into, even if I hadn't finished it, and even if I wouldn't read anything else by the author if I had run out of all other reading matter and it was the only thing in English in the only hotel on a remote Greek island without a bookshop.
Some interesting results there! I'm mildly surprised by the amount of gender difference there seems to be, actually.

Do you want the polls pushed to as wide an audience as possible? I could link on my LJ, might get a few more people that way.
Yes, definitely -- although those who don't read much sf are going to be ticking "no" a lot either way. [g]
I can't imagine what you mean... *ahem*
Well, I wasn't expecting my non-SF reading friends to bother taking it *g*. But I have quite a few fannish SF-reading friends who are unlikely to overlap with our mutual collegiate SF-reading acquaintance, so.
I frankly didn't bother for that reason :p

Looking at the lists it's pretty simple - I've read exactly one of each.
I'd like to second the observation that several Big Name women are mysteriously missing off their lists, while the men's list is loaded down with the Big Name men.
The women's list was the product of "who people mentioned in a discussion as examples of women authors they expected men to have read". The men's list was the product of a quick brainstorm. I also suspect different people are counting different writers as "big names". I get Heinlein/Clarke/Gibson/Stross/KSR/Turtledove/Gaiman/Banks vs Link/Le Guin/Russ/Butler/Piercy/Atwood/Tiptree, for instance.
And of course, the irony is that I've read more than one work by each of your 7 women listed here but only 5 (or maybe 6) of your 8 men. But!

Piercy and Atwood position themselves primarily outside the genre, even though their works sometimes go speculative. Piercy isn't actively hostile (from her forward to _He, She, and It_, she actually seemed pleased to be embraced by SF fans for _Woman on the Edge of Time_), but Atwood is another story.

I consider Russ a big name, personally, but was she ever a seller like Heinlein or Clarke? I don't know, maybe I've got the wrong impression, but I see her more as a must-read as a feminist fan than in fandom at large.

Link is a current big name, clearly, but a recent one. (I guess we can line her up with Stross and call it a wash.)

If we're allowing Neil Gaiman and Kelly Link, it sounds like fantasy is fair game -- so why not some of the big name women in fantasy?

I know, it's just a straw poll, and I'm taking it too seriously... don't mind me.
And of course, the irony is that I've read more than one work by each of your 7 women listed here but only 5 (or maybe 6) of your 8 men. But!

Equally, if the poll had included the women most people have cited as omissions -- McAffrey, Bujold and Willis -- then I'd have gotten very depressed, because my god they're all terrible. :)

Piercy and Atwood position themselves primarily outside the genre, even though their works sometimes go speculative. Piercy isn't actively hostile (from her forward to _He, She, and It_, she actually seemed pleased to be embraced by SF fans for _Woman on the Edge of Time_), but Atwood is another story.

1) No, Atwood recanted ages ago now. See here.

2) Whether or not they position themselves as extra-genre writers is irrelevant, surely?

I consider Russ a big name, personally, but was she ever a seller like Heinlein or Clarke?

Haven't a clue. But if that's the criterion, we have to kick Tiptree off the big-name list as well. My criterion was "people you would generally expect a well-read sf fan to have read". Russ and Tiptree both fall solidly into that camp, in my view.

If we're allowing Neil Gaiman and Kelly Link, it sounds like fantasy is fair game -- so why not some of the big name women in fantasy?

I think the polls were originally meant to be science-fiction only, so ninebelow and I both screwed up. Fortunately, we both screwed up once, so there's equal numbers of fantasy writers on both lists.

As is discussed in the comments, you'd really have to do an entirely separate poll on fantasy writers to cover that ground properly.

I know, it's just a straw poll, and I'm taking it too seriously... don't mind me.

Don't be daft, of course these things should be questioned. I'm just saying it was quick-and-dirty, not a carefully planned thing.
Equally, if the poll had included the women most people have cited as omissions -- McAffrey, Bujold and Willis -- then I'd have gotten very depressed, because my god they're all terrible. :)

Ah, but we weren't talking about whether or not people liked or disliked a reader were we? (And I do know several people who like those authors.)

I was missing McIntyre.
Once again you insist on pretending this list has anything to do with me. Despite what people seem to think my poll was exactly as I intented (apart from the four absent woman that disappeared when I typed it up.)
Hmm? No, I said it came from the earlier discussion. But I did think you were filtering for sf writers.
I didn't filter for owt, I just reposted the list in poll form.
(The lack of Willis and Bujold is probably attributable to the fact that it was British people having the discussion and neither writer is currently in print over here.)
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