I read not one, but two articles today talking about the dearth of women writers working in the industry today. One talked about the small number of women working in the television/film industries, and the other talked about the small number of women writers who appear in the major literary magazines.
This is bad news for women writers looking for work and it's bad news for our culture. Women writers bring a perspective no man can share, regardless of the amount of research he does. A woman, all women, have a decidedly different way of looking at life from men because, well, they're decidedly different.
I know as many, if not more, women writers than I do men. In fact, when it comes to poetry and fiction and stories about life, love and loss, the women writers I know far out number the men. The male writers I know tend to be journalists; beat reporters, sports writers and occasionally a poet or short fiction writer. I happen to know a number of writers and the fact that fewer women writers are finding professional success than men simply does not compute.
I keep hearing that there are economic factors at work here. Those who defend the status quo say that men have limited interests and are less likely to read something written from a woman's point of view. This makes no sense when you consider the across-the-board success of books like "The Color Purple" and films such as "Bridesmaids." Both of those were written by women, of course.
There are also those who continue to postulate that it is perhaps the fault of the women writers who prefer to stay home and raise babies, or clean house, rather than pursue a career in an industry fraught with long hours and low pay.
This is, of course, rubbish in my opinion. In my experience women have shown they can work longer and harder than their male counterparts for much less, especially when it is something close to their heart. (As a writer I can also say that writing is ALL heart.)
No, I think there is something much more insidious at work here: A male dominated industry continuing to defer to men so they can maintain business as usual. Women, they seem to think, offer nothing worth their time and effort and therefore should be relegated to shuffling papers, answering phones and "looking pretty."
Am I being harsh? Yes. For good reason. Half of the humans living on this planet are women and it's long past time they get an equal share of everything this world has to offer. If they choose not to pursue something let it be because they have chosen differently, not because too many obstacles have been placed in front of them just because of their gender. Those days are (should be) over.
Welcome to the 21st Century.