The publishing industry has a big—albeit unique—diversity problem: It’s got too many women. Straight, white women, to be exact.
Minority writers and others who don’t fit that above profile have spoken out in the past about the homogeneity of the industry, with Man Booker-prize winner Marlon James going so far as to accuse publishersof seeking fiction that specifically “panders to that archetype of the white woman—that long-suffering, astringent prose set in suburbia.” This week, children’s book publisher Lee & Low, a minority-led company that advocates for diversity in the publishing industry, released the results of year-long research that finds a grain of truth in those claims.
Lee & Low sent more than 13,000 surveys to publishing employees in the US and Canada. The polls—which got a response rate of 25%, including from some of North America’s biggest publishers, like Penguin Random House and MacMillan—suggest that every sector within publishing is dominated by people who identify as white, female, and heterosexual. Overall, 78% of the industry self-reported as female, and 88% as straight. (The exception to this trend is at the executive level, where there’s a more-or-less even breakdown of gender.)