Introducing Christina Neuwirth and her Women of Words Doctoral Research Project
There’s a new face in the Writer Development team at Scottish Book Trust. We’d like to take a minute to introduce you to writer and researcher Christina Neuwirth, who’s currently undertaking a doctoral research project at the University of Stirling, in partnership with University of Glasgow and Scottish Book Trust. Find out more about her and her research in our mini interview!
Who are you and what do you do at Scottish Book Trust?
My research aims to identify the barriers to women’s equal and effective involvement in writing and publishing in Scotland
My name is Christina Neuwirth, and I’m a researcher and writer currently working on a doctoral research project called Women of Words: Gender equality in contemporary writing and publishing in Scotland, funded by the Scottish Graduate School for Arts and Humanities (SGSAH) with the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC).
In collaboration with Scottish Book Trust, my research aims to identify the barriers to women’s equal and effective involvement in writing and publishing in Scotland, and find ways in which those barriers might be overcome.
The project draws on publishing, gender, and literature studies. If you’re interested in finding out more about the methodology I’m using, here is a link to my research profile on the Stirling Centre for International Publishing and Communication website.
What’s your background in working on gender equality and literature?
Before starting my PhD, I worked at Scottish PEN, a freedom of expression and literature charity, where I managed a small team and ran projects aimed at amplifying voices that are often excluded from public conversations.
I also worked at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Humanities and was part of the team that ran The Dangerous Women Project. We worked with a huge range of contributors to publish 365 different answers to the question ‘what does it mean to be a dangerous woman?’. I am also one of the 22 authors of Nasty Women (404 Ink, 2017).
Is your research only focused on women’s inequality?
Gender equality is about everyone
Gender equality is about everyone. I’ll be looking at the sector as a whole, focusing on publishing, writing and reading. Where is involvement equal, and where is inequality?
For example, quoted here in a blog post by researcher Dr Sarah McGeown, “'The National Literacy Trust’s survey of Children’s and Young People’s Reading in 2015' (based on 32,569 children and young people age 8-18) found that 49.5% of girls and only 35% of boys reported reading daily outside of class. What’s more, a higher proportion of boys agreed with the statement, ‘reading is more for girls than boys.’ On the other end of the reading journey, in the world of publishing, things look different: an article on gen-pol showed there were “only 2 women CEOs across the top 30 major publishers listed in the Publishers Weekly ‘The World’s 54 Largest Publishers, 2017’”. The Guardian reported that “(a) 2016 survey of the gender divide in US publishing found 78% of the industry is female (…). But the same survey found that, at executive or board level, 40% of respondents were men.”
The article goes on to say that “(t)here is a persistent gender pay gap in publishing, which in the last survey by Bookcareers.com was revealed to be 16% in the UK. This is regarded as evidence that men take a disproportionate number of higher paying executive roles to women.”
In order to be able to give a good overview of gender equality in writing and publishing in Scotland, I’ll need to look at the full picture and consider the many ways in which children, young people and adults interact with books and writing. I’ll also need to think carefully about the role of the publishing industry in bringing stories to their readers. I am looking forward to finding out more about our literature sector on my journey.