Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Writing by women in Radio 4's Short Story strand

I spent a day - a whole, long, exhausting day - just before Christmas, researching a theory that the #storycuts on BBC Radio 4 will affect more women writers than men. Here's the result of that research.

NB - these figures are based only on the BBC's own programme information, and may not be complete (for instance, not all the National Short Story Award broadcasts appear to have been included)

BBC Radio 4 short story broadcasts from 2007 to 2011

year        male      female
2007          36            44        8  more by women
2008        127            82      45  more by men
2009          85            82        3  more by men
2010          51            86      35  more by women
2011          51            79      28  more by women

I'm arithmetically challenged, I'll admit, but this does seem to fit my theory.

It suggests to me that more women writers of short fiction are getting commissioned, or that there are more women aiming their work at the radio market by writing short stories, or both.

Dates given are for their first broadcast on R4, not most recent/repeats.

Until 2009 there were 5 stories a week plus a Sunday repeat, after it 3 a week plus a Sunday repeat, hence the overall drop in quantity in last 2 years.

It's also worth noting that proportionately, of work by dead/classical authors broadcast, there were a larger number from men.

Of stories by living authors (either newly commissioned or taken from women’s own collections) there were a larger number from women.

There were a few stories where the author’s name was either missing entirely from listings, or was an arabic or chinese name, or gender details could not be identified via google

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