The problem with biases is that they often sneak into our work without us even realizing. You don’t have to have bad intentions or discriminatory beliefs to be perpetuating biases. Getting rid of subconscious gender biases requires a conscious effort! This might sound hard, but it doesn’t have to be. Here are some tips to help you get started: When deciding which books to review…

  1. Keep track of the authors whose books you review
    • Are they disproportionately male? Are you reviewing books by a diverse range of women and gnc folks? Keeping track of the authors’ identities may feel weird, but it’s a simple way of making sure subconscious biases aren’t creeping in.

  2. Are they disproportionately about traditionally ‘female’ topics?
    • Male authors tend to be over-represented in non-fiction categories, particularly politics and economics, as well as more traditionally masculine subjects such as books about war and crime. Searching out books on these topics by female authors can go a long way towards undoing norms about who can be an expert on what topic.

  3. Set a concrete target for improving
    • Setting a concrete target (for example, 50% of reviewed authors are female or gender non-conforming) will help make this a systemic consistent change, as opposed to a one-time effort to include more diversity. Having a specific goal to achieve makes change more tangible, and gives you something to be proud of once you’ve accomplished it!

  4. Be proactive!
    • Say, for example, you figure out that you’re not reviewing many non-fiction books by women - seek out those books, instead of waiting for them to come to you! Publishers have their own biases, too. It takes a lot of work to roll back deeply engrained norms.
We have developed a google spreadsheet to help publications keep track of their topic biases according to gender. The spreadsheet is easy to use and produces visual references that map out the gender ratio of each theme present is a set of reviewed books that users can use to track their own selection biases.

We highly encourage you to try it out and use it as a quarterly or yearly reference to help improve the inequality in gender representation in certain genres and book themes.

You may download the file here. Please read the READ ME sheet first!