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Why Women Don’t Win Literary Awards: The Saltire Society Literary Awards and Implicit Stereotyping

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journal contribution
posted on 2019-05-13, 08:34 authored by Stevie Marsden
The purpose of this analysis is to consider the Saltire Society’s Book of the Year and First Book of the Year Awards in relation to wider issues pertaining to media representations of Scottish literary and publishing culture. Through a statistical analysis of the Society’s Book of the Year and First Book of the Year shortlists and winners between 1988 and 2014, this examination shows the extent to which the Society’s Literary Awards reflect, as opposed to subvert, historic and existing gender imbalances in Scottish literary and publishing culture. Indeed, despite critics arguing that there was a change in tide in the late 1980s and early 1990s regarding the balance in gender representation in Scottish literature, this analysis suggests that Scotland’s book award culture, and in turn, literary culture more widely, remains dominated by men. Perceptions of the apparent ‘balancing’ of the gender disparity in Scottish writing do not align with the statistics discussed here, a fact further evidence by misconceptions held by members of the Society’s own Literary Awards judging panels. Accordingly, this article contends that such inconsistencies lend credence to the argument that the Society’s judges have participated in implicit stereotyping based upon culturally pervasive stereotypes’ that Scottish women writers play a ‘minor’ role in Scottish literary and publishing culture.


This work was supported by Arts and Humanities Research Council [grant number AH/J010200/1].



Women: A Cultural Review, 2019, 30(1), pp.43-65

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/Organisation/COLLEGE OF SOCIAL SCIENCES, ARTS AND HUMANITIES/Department of Media, Communication and Sociology


  • AM (Accepted Manuscript)

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Women: A Cultural Review


Taylor & Francis (Routledge)



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