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Laer Carroll
06-07-2014, 03:58 AM
In the last week I've been researching agents found from many different sources, ending up reading in detail well over a hundred agent submission guides.

In passing I've notices that perhaps 90% are women. Why is that, I wonder?

Jennifer_Laughran
06-07-2014, 04:25 AM
We're part of a vast underground syndicate bent on establishing a literary gynocracy in which male writers are our slaves!

OH CRAP I'VE SAID TOO MUCH.

kobold
06-07-2014, 04:53 AM
:roll:

Sage
06-07-2014, 04:55 AM
We're part of a vast underground syndicate bent on establishing a literary gynocracy in which male writers are our slaves!

OH CRAP I'VE SAID TOO MUCH.

Drat. I knew I shouldn't click on this thread, and now I'll probably be killed for this knowledge.

Williebee
06-07-2014, 04:55 AM
We're part of a vast underground syndicate bent on establishing a literary gynocracy in which male writers are our slaves!

OH CRAP I'VE SAID TOO MUCH.

The scary answer might be the one to this question:

How many of us would take that deal to get published?

:)

Calla Lily
06-07-2014, 05:06 AM
:roll:

BenPanced
06-07-2014, 05:51 AM
Eww! Girl germs!

Helix
06-07-2014, 05:53 AM
In the last week I've been researching agents found from many different sources, ending up reading in detail well over a hundred agent submission guides.

In passing I've notices that perhaps 90% are women. Why is that, I wonder?


I'd like to see the data.

Haggis
06-07-2014, 05:57 AM
I'd like to see the data.
Oh, you'll never get access to that data. Do you think the women are fools?

I asked the same question one time and three of them met me in the parking lot and beat the crap out of me.

Calla Lily
06-07-2014, 06:04 AM
...and you were warned never to speak of it again.:mothership:

Haggis
06-07-2014, 06:06 AM
Well, duh.

C.bronco
06-07-2014, 06:06 AM
Over 60% of college students are female. Maybe the English Major ratio is even more askew (I was an English major).

eqb
06-07-2014, 06:07 AM
...and you were warned never to speak of it again.:mothership:

Best use of an emoticon ever!

amergina
06-07-2014, 06:10 AM
Eww! Girl germs!

Humph. No tiara for you!

Hendo
06-07-2014, 06:13 AM
I'd like to see the data.This is something I've noticed as well actually... I doubt there's any hard data out there and it's not exactly 90% female but you can plainly see the difference. I just opened query tracker and picked 3 pages at random(small sample size, I know). Ignoring names I couldn't tell were male or female I got: 25-8 26-7 and 22-10 females to male.

Helix
06-07-2014, 06:15 AM
Hey! I go off to make myself a cup of tea and when I get back, Haggis has...gone.

:Shrug:

chickenma
06-07-2014, 06:46 AM
And yet women don't seem as sure of themselves as men. All the agents that have shown an interest in my work have been men, and their feedback suggests a lot more daring, a willingness to bend those cookie-cutter "rules."

patskywriter
06-07-2014, 06:59 AM
OMG, I just looked up "gynocracy," and it's a real word! o.O

amergina
06-07-2014, 07:00 AM
And yet women don't seem as sure of themselves as men. All the agents that have shown an interest in my work have been men, and their feedback suggests a lot more daring, a willingness to bend those cookie-cutter "rules."

Wow.

Verlin
06-07-2014, 07:01 AM
Women are often more relationship oriented and agenting is based on relationships, much like therapy. That's my hypothesis. It's either that or the evil conspiracy deal. It would be just like them to reveal the truth wrapped in humor to throw us off.

Quickbread
06-07-2014, 08:11 AM
Huh. Of the top 100 dealmakers listed on Publishers Marketplace for general fiction, 75 are women. For general nonfiction, 51 are women, so it's basically an even split.

Ari Meermans
06-07-2014, 08:44 AM
I can think of only one reason for taking note of whether the agent you're querying is a man or a woman: to make sure you don't address the query incorrectly, pretty much announcing right off the bat you're a raw noob who hasn't done his homework. just sayin'

shelleyo
06-07-2014, 10:30 AM
And yet women don't seem as sure of themselves as men. All the agents that have shown an interest in my work have been men, and their feedback suggests a lot more daring, a willingness to bend those cookie-cutter "rules."

Could be that your subject matter or writing style tends to appeal more to men, or you targeted the male agents better than the female, or any number of other factors. If men are the ones interested, then their feedback is naturally going to be more in depth and enthusiastic than the feedback from agents who aren't interested.

Women agents being less sure of themselves than men is such a broad brushstroke based on faulty evidence, and fairly sexist to boot. In all fairness, I don't think coming off that way was your intention, but that's how it ended up.

Old Hack
06-07-2014, 01:14 PM
In the last week I've been researching agents found from many different sources, ending up reading in detail well over a hundred agent submission guides.

In passing I've notices that perhaps 90% are women. Why is that, I wonder?

If you had noticed that the majority were men, would you have asked why that was?


And yet women don't seem as sure of themselves as men. All the agents that have shown an interest in my work have been men, and their feedback suggests a lot more daring, a willingness to bend those cookie-cutter "rules."

My bold.

That's a really inappropriate response to have to the circumstances you describe.

Filigree
06-07-2014, 04:45 PM
Anecdotal evidence only on my part: the male literary agents I've met have tended to well-spoken, polite, and sometimes even a bit aloof. The female agents (even in the same agencies) have been direct, gregarious, and downright snarky. I don't mind either. Whatever it takes to pitch a book, make the sale, and forge a relationship with the publisher.

Quickbread
06-07-2014, 04:58 PM
There are people asking those questions, Old Hack, not about agents so much, but about who gets published. Because overall, there's still a bias toward male authors getting published, or at least getting the top recognition and awards, which is interesting when you consider that there really are a lot of female agents.

VIDA is an organization that has been tallying the publication rates of men versus women in literary/mainstream fiction (http://www.vidaweb.org/the-count-2013/), and also YA and children's (http://www.vidaweb.org/vida-count-childrens-literature/).

Chickenma, I agree with Old Hack. That's a hell of an extrapolation to take from only a handful of agent contacts. Agenting is primarily a sales job, which by nature requires risk and assertiveness and confidence. The hottest properties are the ones that do bend the rules and are anything but cookie-cutter. And if more agents truly are women, well, they're killing it in both of those areas.

Ellaroni
06-07-2014, 05:41 PM
In the last week I've been researching agents found from many different sources, ending up reading in detail well over a hundred agent submission guides.

In passing I've notices that perhaps 90% are women. Why is that, I wonder?

I have a similar experience. I noticed when I put together a list of agents to query in the YA category, that there were very few men on my list. I still add names to my list now and then since I want an agent at some point, and so far the added names have also been women.
Maybe there are more male agents in other literary categories than the one you're researching?

Toothpaste
06-07-2014, 06:45 PM
Funny how if there is a majority of women in a particular profession one seems surprised and needs to ask why, but when there's a majority of men in a particular profession it isn't even questioned, it's just the norm.

amergina
06-07-2014, 07:15 PM
And yet women don't seem as sure of themselves as men. All the agents that have shown an interest in my work have been men, and their feedback suggests a lot more daring, a willingness to bend those cookie-cutter "rules."

I'm going to come back to this because it's still bothering me, from two angles.

1) The blanket assumption that women agents aren't sure of themselves because they don't like your work. To me, an agent who gives Rs is, in fact, sure of themselves. They know what they like and aren't going to tapdance around with the author when something doesn't resonate.

2) The blanket assumption that because women agents aren't daring they are looking for cookie-cutter things. Because this implies that the *clients* of women agents are writing stuff that isn't daring and is cookie-cutter.

And as a client of a woman agent... yeah. That's not true. And insulting, too.

Mclesh
06-07-2014, 07:22 PM
We're part of a vast underground syndicate bent on establishing a literary gynocracy in which male writers are our slaves!

OH CRAP I'VE SAID TOO MUCH.

The only reasonable explanation. :evil

Ketzel
06-07-2014, 07:35 PM
Am I the only one who thought chickenma was joking? Because the response was such a perfectly stereotypical explanation of why the menz are better than the wimmenz at [fill in the blank]?
Because, if meant seriously :e2bummed:

Ken
06-07-2014, 07:53 PM
Why are most agents women?

Because the publishing industry is awesome. It is more open to hiring women than other industries and has been doing so for many, many years.

Aspiring to be a writer is a fine thing and I am glad to be making the attempt, made all the better in that the industry itself is ubercool. Feels good to be a part of the industry even if nominally at this point.

Perks
06-07-2014, 08:23 PM
Women buy more books, so it stands to reason there might be a weighted interest in the business end of the industry for women.

I've met lots and lots of agents, both female and male, and the only traits I've noticed across the board is that literary agents tend to be well-spoken and direct. Beyond that, literary agents seem almost like regular human beings, even though I know that can't really be true.

Jennifer_Laughran
06-07-2014, 09:50 PM
In all seriousness, if you really want to know, like, SOCIOLOGICALLY:

* Sexism-fueled biases (combined probably with some natural tendencies) starting in early childhood lead more girls to thrive in language-based majors and careers. You'll also notice that a majority of EDITORS are women. And, oh yeah, the majority of PEOPLE WHO BUY FICTION are women.

* The publishing industry as a whole has, since the middle of the 20th century at least, been comprised of mostly women. Male owners/publishers/bosses, surrounded by dozens of lady receptionists, secretaries, typists, and yes, editors.

* Luckily, time passed, the typists became editors, the editors became senior editors, the senior editors became bosses in their own right. And hired women to take over the more junior jobs again.

* Why? Probably because women are more likely than men to take shitty pay for long hours of thankless work, and still be able to smile whilst being condescended to by egoistic schmucks. I'm guessing.

* Agents are a somewhat more recent invention, but many came from that same world to begin with, so it follows that they'd have a similar set-up.

* Besides love of reading, skills of an agent include but are not limited to: Being well-spoken, being persuasive, being at least somewhat nurturing/patient/good with tantrums, being good communicators generally. "Girl stuff."

* Obviously nobody is saying that there aren't highly successful and fantastic dude agents and editors. Obviously there are. And they often seem to be "noticed" more because of their relative rarity. Like how there are a million female cooks for every male STAR CHEF. . . This is especially true on the kids side -- I have no idea about the grownup book world ratios, which I think would be CLOSER to even, but on the kids side it is probably more like 10% men, if that.

Williebee
06-07-2014, 09:58 PM
Okay, but I'm still not discounting the phenomenal cosmic power of girl cooties.

:)
Thanks, Jennifer.

Chase
06-07-2014, 10:02 PM
We're part of a vast underground syndicate bent on establishing a literary gynocracy in which male writers are our slaves!

I'm already a slave, so why get all pushed out of shape when discovering more/other masters? Mistresses?

Oh, no! Here comes another beating. :whip:

Little Ming
06-07-2014, 10:03 PM
Funny how if there is a majority of women in a particular profession one seems surprised and needs to ask why, but when there's a majority of men in a particular profession it isn't even questioned, it's just the norm.

Oh, you silly dental care product. That's because men are supposed to be the bread-winners and bacon-bring-homers of the world.

Maryn
06-07-2014, 10:29 PM
Wait, there's supposed to be bacon? Mr. Maryn is in so much trouble.

Maryn, not enough bacon for years and years

Calla Lily
06-07-2014, 10:46 PM
Mmm, bacon.

Little Ming
06-07-2014, 10:54 PM
Wait, there's supposed to be bacon? Mr. Maryn is in so much trouble.

Maryn, not enough bacon for years and years

I blame all those unsure, cookie-cutter women taking jobs away from the more daring, willing and sure-of-themselves men.

BenPanced
06-07-2014, 11:59 PM
Okay, but I'm still not discounting the phenomenal cosmic power of girl cooties.

:)
Thanks, Jennifer.
:chair

Aggy B.
06-08-2014, 12:22 AM
I've noticed that any industry that is not fairly evenly split between men and women is raising questions about why lately.

I noticed back in college that casting agents were predominantly women in the otherwise male dominated film industry. I don't know exactly why that is, but it is.

I happen to have a male agent, but I've noticed that if I mention "my agent" in discussion with other writers they do seem to default to "What is SHE doing with your MS?" I haven't been able to pin down whether the assumption is that most agents are women or if it's that, as a woman, I would have a female agent.

Anna Spargo-Ryan
06-08-2014, 12:48 AM
In all seriousness, if you really want to know, like, SOCIOLOGICALLY:

* Luckily, time passed, the typists became editors, the editors became senior editors, the senior editors became bosses in their own right. And hired women to take over the more junior jobs again.

I heard a great interview on the radio recently about the installation of women as editors. Apparently "editing" was deemed unskilled (because the only requirement was to fix spelling and grammar, right?) So the task was assigned to women. The men published the books and newspapers and magazines, while the women just did the menial, lowly editing. The interview talked about the effect that has had on the gender balance of publishing today, but I'm afraid I can't remember any of the data.

Hapax Legomenon
06-08-2014, 01:16 AM
Huh, I would have guessed because more women bought fiction books and therefore agents/publishers are mostly selling towards women's tastes and a woman would be better able to divine that than a man. Someone said previously that agents for non-fiction were more of a 50/50 split and men do seem to read more nonfiction than fiction so the readership is likely closer to even for nonfiction.

If it has to do with selling to a readership a better question is to why the rest of the industry is not mostly women as well.

milkweed
06-08-2014, 01:39 AM
I can neither confirm nor deny that the majority of the editors out there are women, or that women even exist.


:evil

Chase
06-08-2014, 02:56 AM
Oh, you silly dental care product. That's because men are supposed to be the bread-winners and bacon-bring-homers of the world.

Just a rumor started by women wanting more executive opening in bakeries and pork processing plants. Like the one why ladies haven't yet walked on the moon is due to NASA going cheapo and only installing urinals in lunar landers.

Siri Kirpal
06-08-2014, 02:57 AM
I've noticed that any industry that is not fairly evenly split between men and women is raising questions about why lately.

Sat Nam! (literally "Truth Name"--a Sikh greeting)

You may be noticing it lately, but the phenomenon has been going on since at least the 1980s, probably the 1970s.

Blessings,

Siri Kirpal, who was born in 1953

BenPanced
06-08-2014, 03:24 AM
I can neither confirm nor deny that the majority of the editors out there are women, or that women even exist.


:evil

Somebody once told me my own mother is a woman. My world was shattered at that moment and I didn't know what I could or couldn't believe any longer.

Verlin
06-08-2014, 04:41 AM
Theory #2: women are way cooler and agenting is a way cool gig.

Laer Carroll
06-08-2014, 05:18 AM
If you had noticed that the majority were men, would you have asked why that was?

Probably, because Iíve been a feminist since the 60s.

Especially interesting to me is the fact that I only selected the 200 or so women collected from many sources who specifically said they wanted to see science fiction. That has long been a field with predominantly male writers and readers. In the last few decades this has been slowly changing, but it is still the norm. (Also interesting: one of the most popular military SF series is by a woman: Lois McMaster Bujold (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lois_McMaster_Bujold).)

Yet of the 37 agents I selected (after much reading of their submission guidelines and interviews) for the first cut of my list the proportions are 32/5 women/men, or 86%.

I find this very interesting, though I doubt if it will effect the agent I finally pickóif any pick me!

gingerwoman
06-08-2014, 05:48 AM
OMG, I just looked up "gynocracy," and it's a real word! o.O

I'm not sure it is. Webster doesn't recognize it, and those sources that do inlcude it seem to be linking back to urban dictionary and calling it slang.
Slang can be considered a real word in some cases, but linking it to urban dictionary. I don't think that makes it a "real word"?

As for the gender of agents I'm pretty sure genre plays a role. You might find more male agents than female agents looking for horror? (Just a guess.)

Old Hack
06-08-2014, 10:46 AM
I happen to have a male agent, but I've noticed that if I mention "my agent" in discussion with other writers they do seem to default to "What is SHE doing with your MS?" I haven't been able to pin down whether the assumption is that most agents are women or if it's that, as a woman, I would have a female agent.

I often default to her/she when talking about agents and editors because most of my publishing friends are women--particularly the big-hitters. It's not because I assume women will be represented by women.


Someone said previously that agents for non-fiction were more of a 50/50 split and men do seem to read more nonfiction than fiction so the readership is likely closer to even for nonfiction.

If it has to do with selling to a readership a better question is to why the rest of the industry is not mostly women as well.

I'm a woman, and I edit non-fiction. Thinking back, most of the editors I've worked with have been women too.


Probably, because Iíve been a feminist since the 60s.

I think you need to brush up (http://absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?p=8592712#post8592712) on your feminist skills (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?p=7729421#post7729421), Laer.

WeaselFire
06-09-2014, 01:55 AM
In passing I've notices that perhaps 90% are women. Why is that, I wonder?
Hmmm... Both the agents I've had were male. Did you consider genre and type of work in your search?

Then again, all my friends that are agents are female. They all rep genres I don't write. Why is that?

Jeff

hikarinotsubasa
06-09-2014, 07:35 AM
I've seen it suggested that it's partly because most agents start out as unpaid interns, and that women (particularly white, middle- or upper-class women) are more likely to be in a position where they are able to work full-time without pay and live in New York.

That's kind of an awful thought, but there's probably at least an element of truth to it. Of course, I have no idea of any individual agent's family or financial situation or how agencies do or don't pay their interns and assistants. I'm sure it depends on the person and the agency.

I'd also guess that a BIG part of it is that women are more likely to be avid readers (and I'll let other people speculate on the biological and/or sociological reasons for THAT one, but the statistics are there... women read more than men), and you'd have to be a big reader to even WANT to be an agent, much less be any good at it, right? ;)

Personally, I've queried more women than men, but I haven't chosen to query or not query anyone based on their gender, only genre and category preferences, wishlists, reputation, etc.

Namatu
06-09-2014, 05:35 PM
I've seen it suggested that it's partly because most agents start out as unpaid interns, and that women (particularly white, middle- or upper-class women) are more likely to be in a position where they are able to work full-time without pay and live in New York.Who can live without pay in NYC? That's not to say that there aren't unpaid interns from wealthy backgrounds, but this would seem the exception to the norm.

In my editorial department, there are five men and more than fifteen women. The disparity was greater at my previous company.

Niiicola
06-09-2014, 06:35 PM
I'm an editor and I've never had a male boss in my entire professional career. Can't speak for agenting, but I do feel like this is one of the few fields where there doesn't seem to be any obvious promotion of men over women and where women are encouraged to thrive. Not sure why or how, but I'm pretty happy about it.

TerryRodgers
06-09-2014, 07:26 PM
There has to be more women agents than men agents. Who else would listen to or up with the the whining and crying of male authors. Surely not another dude.

Verlin
06-09-2014, 07:31 PM
Okay. Here's a new theory. We've got hemispheres in our brains that are organized around different sorts of cognitive tasks. Perhaps the right side -- simplistically, the more creative hemisphere -- tends to be more developed in women, so that's why writing and reading embody deeper affinities in them. After all, it's business that's not oriented around typical left brain production. Are art gallery owners women? What about music managers, etc?
By the way, I'm not sure if I believe any of this. Some things are too complex to be reduced down to a paragraph, aren't they?

Namatu
06-09-2014, 08:13 PM
Mostly I go with this:
* Why? Probably because women are more likely than men to take shitty pay for long hours of thankless work, and still be able to smile whilst being condescended to by egoistic schmucks. I'm guessing. With or without the egoistic schmucks.

Jamesaritchie
06-10-2014, 01:20 AM
If most were men, someone would ask why most agents are men. Sometimes it just happens this way. You don't really expect a fifty, fifty split, do you?

Medievalist
06-10-2014, 01:50 AM
I've seen it suggested that it's partly because most agents start out as unpaid interns, and that women (particularly white, middle- or upper-class women) are more likely to be in a position where they are able to work full-time without pay and live in New York.

That's not really accurate. The number of salaried editors who live in tiny (and quite often shared) apartments, in NYC is not small.

Full time salaried editors working for big five publishers are not making large sums of money. They're really not. It's not a business you go into to make lots of money; it's one you go into because you're really good at it, and you like it, and you can make a living at. You're not going to get rich.

Chase
06-10-2014, 05:00 AM
It's not a business you go into to make lots of money; it's one you go into because you're really good at it, and you like it, and you can make a living at. You're not going to get rich.

Oh, hear hear! Or see see in my case. :D