The gender bias in the contemporary short-form speculative fiction

    Valentin IvanovA heated discussion on the mailing list of contributors to the Strange Horizons prompted me to put some numbers on the gender ratio in the contemporary short-form speculative fiction. Following my own example ( I looked at the review column in Locus ( by Lois Tilton (, and counted the contributors by gender. In my view, she reviews the most prominent magazines and anthologies, so the statistics should refer to the leading part of the market, and both print and electronic markets are included, i.e. Asimov’s SF, Analog,, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Interzone, Lightspeed, Strange Horizons, Subterranean, etc.


    (1) The cleanest way to carry out this study is to ask the authors to define their own gender but it is not practical, so I resorted to checking aotheor’s web pages and Wikipedia entries, and I also run the statistics by the mailing list where the discussion happened (THANKS FOR THE CORRECTIONS!).

    (2) The statistics is relatively small but this is a time-consuming study. I strongly encourage others to add more numbers.

    I counted only the latest (at the time) two editions. I started with the males because Tobias S. Buckell happened to be the first reviewed author.

    * * *

    20 March 2013


    1 Tobias S. Buckell

    2 Jay Lake

    3 William Browning Spencer

    4 Brian Francis Slattery

    5 Chris Butler

    6 Carlos Hernandez

    7 Anthony Mann

    8 Jake Kerr

    9 Rich Larson

    10 Toh Enjoe (Japan)



    1 Kat Howard

    2 Caitlín R Kiernan

    3 Melanie Tem

    4 Damien Walters Grintalis

    5 E Lily Yu

    6 Lisa Tuttle

    7 Sarena Ulibarri

    8 Karen Tidbeck

    9 Yukimi Ogawa (Japan)


    Other or unknown:

    1 An Owomoyela

    * * *

    6 March 2013



    1 Nick DiChario

    2 Alex Shvartsman

    3 Stephen Leigh

    4 Robert T. Jeschonek

    5 Ian McHugh

    6 Jason Helmandollar

    7 Bill Ferris

    8 David John Baker

    9 Michael Wehunt

    10 Thomas Brennan

    11 Rich Larson

    12 Alexander Austin

    13 J. T. Petty

    14 John Chu

    15 William Alexander



    1 Shannon Fay

    2 Kali Wallace

    3 Jessica Brody

    4 Aliette de Bodard

    5 Genevieve Valentine

    6 A. C. Wise

    7 Liz Argall

    8 Rachel Swirsky


    Other or unknown:

    1 Lou J. Berger


    * * *


    If you find errors, I encourage you to contact the author so the statistics is fixed.

    I ended up with total of 44 contributors: 25 male (~ 57 ± 11 %), 17 female (~ 39 ± 9 %), and two in the unknown/other category (~ 5 ± 3 %). I assumed Poisson statistics, the uncertainties are just square roots of the numbers. The total percentage is 101 because of the round ups. Roughly, the M/F disparity is 3:2 but also this is not nearly fully man-dominated landscape like it was back in the 40s or 50s. I guess that the ratio for novels is probably more uneven because of the longer duty cycle of the larger genres – the short story market is faster responding to the change in the writer’s demographics.

    Some of the contributors to the mailing list pointed at more statistics, generally older. I am adding the links here, for comparison:

    A few words about the women in the Bulgarian speculative fiction. I have no statistics, but I can offer two reviews:

    – (1) the first science fiction, written by a woman in Bulgaria – The Treasure of Planet Earth, by Zora Zagorska:

    – (2) excellent short story – Ticket to Vega, by Miglena Nikolchina:

    Finally, I would like to point that two contributors reviewed by Lois Tilton are foreigners living outside the English speaking world, which is music to my ears. 🙂


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