Represent | Object | Advocate | Rewrite

Fighting for equality in Scotland’s literature

ROAR hero image

ROAR 2017 research findings

Findings from a study of Scottish book publishing, book reviewing and book festivals, Jan-Dec 2017

Christina Neuwirth, PhD researcher, University of Stirling, University of Glasgow, Scottish Book Trust

Research statement by Professor Claire Squires:

“Many of us operating within the Scottish literature and publishing sector have observed or encountered forms of structural inequality and discrimination, in terms of gender and its intersections. The research underpinning ROAR’s activities aims to bring a rigorous quantitative and qualitative understanding of these lived experiences, through data collection, analysis and communication. The initial set of data for 2017 represents a rigorous quantitative approach, based on those of the VIDA (https://www.vidaweb.org/the-2017-vida-count/) and the Stella (https://thestellaprize.com.au/the-count/) Counts. Through the provision of ongoing counts, the research aims to provide longitudinal evidence for inequalities, in order to facilitate conversations about those inequalities, and also to urge for and work towards change.”

“The research is funded by the AHRC (Arts and Humanities Research Council) and SGSAH (Scottish Graduate School of Arts & Humanities) Creative Economy studentship, and conducted by Christina Neuwirth with the close academic supervision of publishing and literature experts Professor Claire Squires (Professor of Publishing Studies, University of Stirling) and Dr Elizabeth Reeder (Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing, University of Glasgow), and in collaboration with Scottish Book Trust, and with the wider ROAR group.”

Book festivals in Scotland, Jan-Dec 2017

  • This study considered Edinburgh International Book Festival, Aye Write and Bloody Scotland
  • The printed programmes for these festivals were used to obtain information
  • The study considered the adults programmes, children’s programmes, and fringe/evening programmes
  • Overall, these festivals hosted events with 1,392 authors, and 463 solo author events
  • The study considered gender of author as well as the number of panelists per event.


  • Of all author events featuring 1,392 authors, 775 authors were men (55.7%), 612 women (44.0%) and 5 were non-binary (0.4%).
  • Of all solo author events featuring 461 authors, 285 authors were men (61.8%), 175 women (38.0%) and 1 was non-binary (0.2%).

Publishing in Scotland, Jan-Dec 2017

  • Initial count considered book publishing in 404 Ink, Acair Ltd, ASLS, Barrington Stoke, BHP Comics, Birlinn (incl. imprints Polygon and BC Books), Black and White Publishing, Canongate, Charco, Cranachan Publishing, Curly Tale Books, Fledgling Press, Floris Books, Freight Books, HarperCollins Publishers (Glasgow), Little Door Books, Luath Press, Luna Press Publishing, Ringwood Publishing, Sandstone Press, Saraband (incl. imprint Contraband), Scotland Street Press, Serafina Press, ThunderPoint Publishing and Vagabond Voices.
  • Overall, these publishers together published books by 454 authors
  • Study conducted using the National Library of Scotland catalogue supplemented where applicable by records listed on individual publishers’ websites


  • Overall, of the 454 authors whose books were published in 2017, 288 authors were men (63%), 166 were women (37%) and none were non-binary.

Genres with ten or more authors represented:

  • Equal numbers women and men:
  • Historical fiction: 10 authors total, 5 men and 5 women.
  • More women than men:
  • Children’s books: 77 authors total, 37 men and 40 women.
  • Romance: 14 authors total, 3 men and 11 women.
  • Non-fiction about literature: 10 authors total, 1 man and 9 women.
  • More men than women:
  • Literary fiction: 57 authors total, 32 men and 25 women.
  • Thriller, mystery and crime: 44 authors total, 30 men and 14 women.
  • Non-fiction about Scotland: 34 authors total, 30 men and 4 women.
  • Memoir: 24 authors total, 16 men and 8 women.
  • Young adult: 22 authors total, 13 men and 9 women.
  • Non-fiction about politics: 16 authors total, 10 men and 6 women
  • Biography: 13 authors total, 10 men and 3 women.
  • Non-fiction about nature and science: 13 authors total, 10 men and 3 women.
  • Non-fiction about history: 12 authors total, 11 men and 1 woman.
  • Sci-fi, fantasy (fiction and non-fiction): 11 authors total, 7 men and 4 women.
  • Non-fiction about travel: 10 authors total, 6 men and 4 women.
  • No women:
  • Humour: 10 authors total, 10 men and 0 women.

Book reviewing in Scottish national newspapers, Jan-Dec 2017

  • Initial count considered book reviewing in The Herald, The Sunday Herald and The Scotsman
  • Research conducted using Access U.K. & Scotland Newspapers (aka NewsBank Access U.K. and Scotland Newspapers) through National Library of Scotland
  • Together, these newspapers reviewed 604 authors’ books in 591 reviews credited to individual reviewers
  • The study considered gender of authors and reviewers.


  • Of these 604 authors reviewed, 395 were men (65%), 209 were women (35%) and none were non-binary.
  • Of 591 reviews, 507 were authored by men (86%), 84 were authored by women (14%) and none were authored by non-binary reviewers.
  • Male reviewers reviewed 353 books by men (58%) and 165 books by women (27%). Female reviewers reviewed 42 books by men (7%) and 44 books by women (7%).

On methodology: Wherever possible, this study used biographical information from authors’ websites, interviews, publishers’ websites etc to record gender. Where this information was not available (43 cases of 2,969 data points (1.4%)) genderize.io was used to note the person’s gender. Genderize.io uses big datasets of information from social media user profiles to assign a probability value of gender to a name.

The figures without genderize.io are:

Festivals: overall events: 1,388 authors, 772 men (55.6%), 611 women (44%), and 5 non-binary people (0.4%). Solo author events featuring 459 authors, 283 men (61.7%), 175 women (38.1%), 1 non-binary person (0.2%)

Publishing: genderize.io was not used for this section of the study.

Reviewing: genderize.io was not used for the authors in this study. For reviewers, without genderize.io, the study found 552 reviews credited to individual reviewers (incl multiple reviews credited to the same reviewer, who was then counted multiple times), 498 men (90%), 54 women (10%)

Male reviewers reviewed 350 books by men (62%) and 159 books by women (28%). Female reviewers reviewed 28 books by men (5%) and 44 books by women (5%).

Share this: