Straight White Women Run Publishing According to New Survey
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Last year, Booker-winning author Marlon James caused a stir in the literary world when he suggested that writers of color have to pander to white women to get published. Although many other writers of color publicly agreed with James, he was the target of several rebuttals. However, a new survey of the publishing industry by Lee & Low shows James might have been right all along. The survey looked at 70 publishers in the US and Canada, including three of the Big 5 (Hachette, Penguin Random House, and Macmillain) as well as many smaller publishers. The survey revealed that the publishing industry is overall 79% white, 78% women, and 88% straight. Even at the executive level, straight white women accounted for the majority of positions and at the editorial level a huge 84% of desks belong to white women.
The overwhelming whiteness of publishing has been a major subject in the literary world with campaigns such as #WeNeedDiverseBooks seeing to highlight the lack of books by and about people of color.
Hannah Ehrlich at Lee & Low Books noted that “just because you are a woman, that doesn’t make you an expert in the marginalization that people of color face or people with disabilities face. Do not assume that because women are successful or are in positions of power that that means that that success or power will automatically be offered out or shared with other marginalized groups.”