Dogged by controversy after last year’s all-male shortlist, the organisers of the Arthur C Clarke awards have responded in 2014 by raising the profile of female authors, publishing a separate list of the submissions from women writers.
When I served on the World Fantasy Awards jury a couple of years back, I saw a number of comments that our shortlist’s ‘gender balance’ was tipped in favour of male writers.
The truth of it is that works by women dominated the early stages of the selection process. The catch being that each judge favoured different ones. When it came to distilling our individual lists through several stages to find consensus, that very diversity thinned the field. No way were we working a gender bias, conscious or unconscious. It was hard enough just to push our way through to a result that our process could show to be fair.
And, bottom line, we were discussing the works, not the authors.