Ladies of the Book World

When the phone rings in the tiny, rustically decorated office home to Patriot Construction, my mother is usually the one to answer. While my father manages the field work, making site visits and presenting to clients, my mother is in charge of all things “business.” She writes the contracts, balances the books, and signs the checks. But when clients call in with questions about any of these things, they insist on speaking with my father. Why? Because he’s a man.


It doesn’t matter how many times my mother tries to tell them that she is, in fact, the person they need to speak with. These clients are adamant, and often they’re downright rude.


Now, as much as this seemingly baseless gender bias really grinds my gears, it makes sense, right? I mean, it’s the construction industry. That’s a man’s world.


So what about the publishing industry? Is that a man’s world, too? I wouldn’t say so. According to Publishers Weekly’s 2014 salary survey, females make up 74% of the industry’s workforce. But, much like my mother, many of these women are still getting a raw deal. Publishing’s wage gap has improved in recent years, but there’s still a mountainous difference between the average male salary at $85,000, and the average female salary at $60,750. Even when we consider men and women holding the exact same job titles, the gap decreases, but only marginally.


PW’s salary survey, released this past summer, also revealed a significantly higher concentration of men in management positions than at any other level of the industry. Are men just naturally better at being in charge? Is that why they make more money? Not if you consider my mother. Without her managerial skills, my family’s construction company never would have made it off the ground.


Construction, publishing—it doesn’t matter the industry. A woman’s work has just as much value as a man’s. I know quite a few book ladies that are excellent at what they do. In fact, most of the people I work with in the publishing industry are female, and they’re all pretty darn talented. My managing editor and her business partner just launched a successful publishing resource company last January, and most of my coworkers are women. I’d say we’re just as innovative and capable as our male counterparts.


It’s about time the publishing industry, and the rest of the world, caught up. Because, frankly, gender bias and pay inequality should be a thing of the past.