|Flickr Credit: Izabela Pawlicka|
I am in my second semester of college now, and I love it. It’s fun to be in an environment where there is always learning and always questions and always books. I like the community and I like what I do there.
Even so, life is not perfect.
It’s niggled at me a little. Every now and again, just a thought—the times when I maybe don’t like what I am reading at that very second and so let my mind wander into the critical. And in my criticisms, I have noticed this:
We don’t read as many books written by women in college.
I mean, yeah, I’ve only been around two semesters, but I don’t think I’m completely off-base here.
I took a look at my reading log to recall my AP Literature class, which I took last school year and is the most comparable course for this discussion, and all of the books that I’ve read for school during this semester and the last. And I have read fewer full texts by women in college.
For my AP Literature class, we read 10 full-length texts. Of those texts, six were written by male authors and four were written by female authors. If you like ratios, the female/male ratio is 0.66; if you like percents, 40% of all the texts were written by women.
Also, as I scour my reading log, the beginning of the year was top-heavy with male authors, but after that, the authors’ genders switched off. One of our books was a choice novel, so that isn’t how it worked for everyone, but that’s how it turned out for me.
Thus far in college, I’ve read 21 full-length texts. Of those texts, 14 were written by male authors and five by female. The f/m ratio, 0.36; the percent of the total, 26%. And I’m on the cusp of finishing two more books, also written by men.
And... I have had classes where we read no books by women at all.
That is a 14% drop in full-length books written by women that I’ve read for school since enrolling in college. This isn’t a representation of all my school reading material—in both scenarios my classes often included short stories, excerpts from textbooks, or articles written by various men and women. These are of course important sources we rely upon, but I only count books I’ve read cover to cover on my reading log. What’s more, books we are asked to read cover to cover generally receive a greater focus in the curriculum.
And now I don’t really know what to do with that.
I don’t have any desire to change my classes from the way they are. I’m not an enforcement agency. I’m motivated to read more women’s voices outside of class… but there is every chance I might have done that anyway. And mostly I just have this observation.
Since it’s only my observation, I decided to bring it to you.
Tell me about what you read at your school. You don’t have to be as specific as I was, but give me your guesses! Do you think your academic reading hails from more male or female voices? Why do you think that is?
As for me, I have no answers. But I am planning on finding them. Until then, I stalk my prey…