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Odds stacked against female writers

back-roadsA few weeks ago, my colleague, Beth, wrote an article about gender bias in the publishing world and illustrated how women mostly get a rotten deal. In today’s Pittsburgh Post-Gazette author Tawni O’Dell (a one time Oprah Winfrey book club selection for Back Roads) explains how she has a hard time because she is female. Now remember ladies of writing – try not to have a name that sounds too, well, female….

I was informed over the phone one morning that Tawni was a “biker chick name” and no one would take the novel seriously if we used it. I was stunned, not only because I had naively thought art was one area where sexism didn’t exist but because standing in my coffee-stained bathrobe in my suburban Chicago kitchen handing out juice boxes to my kids, I could hardly imagine anyone mistaking me for a biker chick. My editor went on to inform me that they had decided to publish the book using my initials. That way they wouldn’t actually be lying and claiming I was a man but since the book was written in the male first person, everyone would assume it had been written by a man. Pretty sneaky.

I think Tawni is a great name.

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