Wicked Sisters (in Crime)

By Julie, desperately seeking signs of spring in Somerville

Were it not for Sisters in Crime, this blog would not exist.

Sisters in Crime is a national organization with a mission to “promote the ongoing advancement, recognition and professional development of women crime writers.” The values of the organization include:

  • Promote respect and embrace diversity
  • Continue our non-hierarchical tradition
  • Support members along the publishing continuum
  • Advocate for women crime writers
  • Cultivate a positive presence within the crime writing community
  • Educate and inspire
  • Foster integrity and ethics
  • Celebrate writing excellence

There are over 3600 members world wide, with 48 chapters. We have a strong chapter here in New England, and all of us are national and regional members of the organization. Sherry is also a member of the Chesapeake chapter.

The import of this organization on our careers is fodder for several blog posts. Today I want to talk about one aspect of the organization–promoting gender parity in the field. This is, after all, why Sisters in Crime was founded in the first place. The Monitoring Project, overseen by Barbara Fister, has years of data on the coverage of women mystery writers in the press, and now in digital channels. Barbara wrote an article for Bitch Magazine entitled “Women Make Up More than Half of Mystery Writers—But Get Criminally Few Reviews” which is well worth the read.

These conversations matter for so many reasons. Talking about gender parity in any field is important, but in my worlds of mystery literature and theater (my “day” job) the issues around gender parity are significant, and shouldn’t be this many years later. One of the benefits of social media is that is allows individuals to have a voice in conversations, removing some of the gatekeepers. Still, traditional media channels still matter, and there remain issues around true gender parity. Think about it–what is considered “important” literature? Who are the bestsellers? What subgenres are dimissed, yet in actuality represent a huge swath of book sales every year? How does gender play a role in all of that? And is that fair? Complicated conversations, but important to think about.

As cozy writers, and readers, we are used to a very woman-centric world view. I am glad to be part of this world, but also recognize that I am a member of a larger field. And while my gratitude to Sisters in Crime includes mentoring, friendships, support systems, and access to opportunities, of late I am also very grateful for the bigger picture work that the organization does, and the efforts that they/we are making in creating gender parity in the field.

Diversity is another issue to tackle, and another blog post. For today, I celebrate my wicked sisters in crime, Sisters in Crime, and the goal of gender parity.

5 Thoughts

  1. I certainly see this when it comes to awards. The biggest and most prestigious awards are rarely won by women. But in my own reading? I’m lucky if I’m reading a book by a man and not a woman.

      1. And that’s more a matter that very few men write books that would qualify for the awards than anything else. Believe me, I’d love to find more male cozy authors (since that’s what I love to read the most). They just aren’t out there.

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