Bias in book choice

Letter in this weekend’s Guardian.

Following your article (Why is British public life dominated by men?, G2, 3 December), readers might be interested in my analysis of the choice of Christmas books in the Guardian, published the previous week. Books were chosen by 33 men and nine women. The gender imbalance in those asked to choose books might not have mattered if men and women were similar in their choice of books. But they were not. Among the books the women chose, half were by men and half by women. Among the books the men chose, three-quarters were by men and only one-quarter by women. The result was that the Guardian “recommended” 44 books by women, but 87 books by men.

Gender bias is often unnoticed. I suspect most readers will not have seen that twice as many books by men were recommended, compared with books by women. This is just one example of the way in which women’s contribution to culture is devalued and made invisible.
Jan Pahl
Canterbury, Kent

The article on lack of women is here and the book choices here.

Jan Pahl is Professor Emeritus of Social Policy at the University of Kent.

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