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The Locus Reading List has already appeared here. It’s clearly one of those lists that is influential on the SFF awards nominations, and also on who wins. Chaos Horizon notes that works which appear on this list have a 92.3% likelihood of receiving a Nebula Award. Now there’s an analysis of the race/gender breakdown of the 2011-2015 Locus Reading Lists available from Natalie Luhrs.

Luhrs presents a short description of her methodology, about how she obtained the data and determined who’s who on the list. Then she presents the gender breakdown in the different categories. Overall, over 50% of the works that appear are by men, followed by 35-40% by women, then mixed gender works and other. However, she notes that women do dominate in the young adult and fantasy first-novel categories. She also notes a strong dominance of male editors in the anthology category. Numbers on gender seem to have remained about the same over the five years when data was collected.

Next Luhrs looks at figures on the racial/ethnic breakdown of the authors/editors. There was a promising increase in the number of people of color (POC) appearing on the list in this five-year period, ranging from 6.37% in 2011 to 15.61% in 2015. Of course, all categories of works during the five years were dominated by white authors as opposed to POC.

Last, Luhrs looks at the tendency of names to reoccur on the list once they first appear. She notes that the same names often appear year after year and in multiple categories. Specifically, there were 676 authors/editors on the list, and of these 255 had multiple entries. This amounted to about 70% of the works on the list. Men were much more likely to repeatedly appear than women or other gender categories, and whites were much more likely to repeatedly appear than POC. Luhrs comments that she finds these statistics troubling, especially the dominance of men in the anthology categories and the way particular individuals dominate the list with repeated appearances.

These are interesting figures to compare against Susan B. Connolly’s gender analysis of pro SF&F markets. I’ve previously featured Connolly’s analysis. She looked at the submission and publication rates for several pro magazines/anthologies and found strong differences in the number of men versus women published by each. She also found that there were notable differences in the submission rates between women, men and POC. This does something to explain the breakdown of the Locus list, but it doesn’t explain why more women and POC don’t submit their work to the kinds of markets that would get the on the list.

Why don’t they?

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