Dragon Award by Gender

With this year’s finalists announced, we now have a hefty data set of who gets nominated for the Dragon Awards. I haven’t been counting the game of movie categories but I have been including all the story categories including comics and graphic novels. I’m still looking at publishers but that’s going to take some more work in terms of defining who is what.

I’ve done a binary classification (M v F) of gender of authors based on name or profile pronoun. I don’t think there are any non-binary authors who have been finalists as yet. More generally, apologies to any author I’ve misclassified.

Year AllNovelsCounts
  M F M F M F
2016 56 15 35 11 35 11
2017 69 19 47 12 41 12
2018 58 16 38 12 31 12
2019 45 23 30 18 26 18
  • “All” includes all novel categories, comics and graphic novels
  • “Novels” is novel categories only
  • “Counts” is novels but instead of the sum of authors by gender it is the count of novels with an author of a given gender

That “counts” column sounds odd but it’s there because there are a lot of dual authored books nominated and most of those are two male authors (outside of comics, I think there is only one exception). With the counts column a book with two male authors gets counted once and a book with a male & female author would be counted once for each column (so twice in total).

So first the bad news. Using the ‘counts’ data that’s 133 out of 186 for men or 72% and that’s using the measure with the least discrepancy. Judge against a 50/50 chance of male v female then it’s a wholly unlikely occurrence.

The good news is that 2019 is quite different from previous years. Here is the ‘counts’ data as percentages:

Year M F
2016 76% 24%
2017 77% 23%
2018 72% 28%
2019 59% 41%
Total 72% 28%

A 60-40 split still isn’t great representation but other literary awards have had worse. It’s also a change for the better and a fairly dramatic one based on past data. Here it is graphically:

As a change in the kind of works being nominated, there is a quantifiable change in the nature of the Dragon Award finalists this year. Obviously the question is why?

19 thoughts on “Dragon Award by Gender

    1. Alternatively, Less voters, since the first few years the awards were probably more activated by puppy promoters and now, after years of success, people have stopped caring, so less of these people are voting.


  1. I tend to think there are more voters now than in the first two years because it seems to me that the amount of discussion and analysis here and at File 770 and in other places like Cora’s blog has increased. I also think our efforts to remind Dragon Con members of the dates for nomination and voting have made an impact. But it could very well be that a nomination could result from a very small number of voters.

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  2. I don’t like nominating for these — too many novel categories and being a half year off from the Hugos (and pretty much everything else as far as I know). I think I might have put in a few things in one of the earlier years. Not sure what year(s) I’ve voted in the final. I’ll probably vote this year since I’m actually familiar with a few more things than usual.


  3. Or perhaps the gender problems were brought to the Admins’ attention, and they curated this year’s finalist lists with an eye to addressing the imbalance, which seems the most likely explanation to me.

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    1. In that case, someone should point out to the Dragon administrators that the shortlist is awfully white this year, even worse than in past years. This year, there are only three finalists of colour in the novel categories.

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      1. I’m just no longer accustomed to seeing no acknowledgement made of them in statistics of this kind, even if it is a complete absence.


        1. Well, he does acknowledge that he’s not aware of anyone in that paragraph right before the first chart. But it does seem odd to see just m&f for recent stats.


  4. >This year, there are only three finalists of colour in the novel categories.

    Actually, this could be a side-effect of waning Puppy participation. The Rabid Pups seem to like Asian SF and actually nominated several authors of color in previous years. On the other hand, the Hugo voters, for example, tend to lean heavily to white women.


    1. Yes of course. That’s why Zen Cho, Jeanette Ng, Tomi Adeyemi, Mia Sereno, Marjorie Liu, and Sana Takeda all won Hugos this year. Because the Hugo voters lean “heavily to white women”. Sure.

      One day you will actually fact-check before you run your mouth. That will be a first for you.


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