Pub Rants

PW Survey Says

 28 Comments |  Share This:    

STATUS: HOTEL moved up to position #21 on the NYT extended hardcover bestseller list. Couldn’t be more thrilled for Jamie. Happy dance at the office this afternoon.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? SILK PYJAMAS by Thomas Dolby

Every year PW does an annual job survey. I actually did a search for the 2008 survey results but I’m thinking they haven’t been released yet because the article didn’t pop up.

So the most recent I could find was from 2007. The good majority of editors in New York are women. There are many different theories as to why that is true. Most likely the culprit is starting salary and women are more likely to put up with low salaries at a beginning of a career. There is also a theory that traditionally, men do more “supporting of the household” in our US world so can’t “afford” to enter the field.

I’m not going to touch that gender story but what I can tell you is this. Despite the fact that publishing tends to be, percentage-wise, more heavily slanted towards women employees than men, women editors are still paid less than their male counterparts for equivalent positions. This PW article simply touches the tip of the iceberg (discussing managers vs. editors). The full survey goes into more detail about salaries for equivalent positions.

Folks, gender bias is alive and well in the field of publishing.

However, I don’t think this statistic holds true for women agents…Hence why I’m on this side of the publishing fence.

28 Responses

  1. Donna Hosie said:

    Gender bias is everywhere. According to the 2005 Census, one year out of college, women working full time earn 80% of what their male colleagues earn. Ten years later, that figure is reduced to 69%.

    Publishing, medicine, education, finance…it doesn’t seem to matter, unless of course you are a woman trying to make an honest living.

    As an aside, the word verification for this comment looks remarkably like “depressing”! Even blogger agrees.

  2. DebraLSchubert said:

    I worked as a marketing manager for years in the architecture/engineering field, and there, too, men make far more than women. Of course, it’s always “hush-hush.” You have to find published articles like the one you’ve got linked in order to know what’s really going on. Men making more money than women has been a known fact for decades. When is it going to change?

  3. Tara Maya said:

    I do find the salary inequality quite depressing.

    I think that’s a separate issue from women dominating the field, though. (Though perhaps intertwined.) It would actually be quite odd to me if women were not well represented in publishing, considering that women read more than men in the general population.

    Of course, in the past, these things were separate issues as well. And one still finds that the higher and more “refined” — prestigious and lucrative — the writing project, the more likely it is to be dominated by men.

  4. Shannan said:

    Yes, this bias is still everywhere unfortunately. I experienced it as recently as last year in a profession that is something like 75% or more female. And yet, a male “technology specialist” in a small staff of a public library made more than me. I was the assistant director and so at times his supervisor. We were considered in the same pay grade, but he was bumped up some because he had a family to support (I’m not kidding. That was the reason).

    P.S. Congratulations on HOTEL!

  5. Claire Mossop said:

    Could it be at all related to demand? I mean, when I was a novice to publishing all I really knew about the industry was editing. I know a good deal more these days, but I wonder if some of the difference in salaries could have anything to do with the fact there is an abundant supply of editors out there, possibly more so than marketing directors, or type setters?

    I am not denying salary inequality, it was just a thought?

  6. Nom de Gare said:

    What I want to know is — why does this pay gap persist? Is it done consciously – do managers look at their staff and think, “Oh, we can pay her less: she’s a woman so she’ll put up with it”? Or is it subconscious? Or an overall statistical difference rather than more blatant discrimination between male and female colleagues? I’m kind of terrified of the answer.
    I work in a small publishing house. We have two editors: me (female) and a man. We have nearly identical experience and qualifications. I’ve been there a year longer than he has.
    I like him a lot – he’s a friend. But it kills me to think that he might be being paid more than me — especially as my bosses are female. I hate that I’m even worried about this – it makes me feel a bit paranoid. BUT, I can absolutely imagine him asking calmly and confidently for a pay rise in his annual review, whereas I can’t bring myself to do it – I’m too backwards and grateful and lacking in confidence to suggest that I might be worth more.
    So – what’s the solution, and whose responsibility is it? WHY are women still so hesitant to ask for more?

  7. Patricia W. said:

    Gender bias absolutely exists. In all fields. Seen it. Experienced it. Fought with senior managers during salary discussions and reduction in force meetings when they’d say things like, “But he has a family…” So? She’s a better worker.

    Starting salary does affect one’s choices. I wanted to go into publishing but didn’t based on the starting salary. At the time, I couldn’t fathom it, coming from a low-income background and facing student loans. So I actually buy, to some extent, the argument against why men may not go into publishing as much as women.

    But I also argue that some great women missed out for the same reason. Short-sighted perhaps but, no one was telling my generation to “do what you love, the money will come” as I often hear today (at least before our current economic climate).

  8. Anonymous said:

    I wonder if there is a gender bias for female writers vs. male writers. I’m talking amounts of advance and house promotion for just your average joe, midlist author?

    Bet there is.

  9. Anonymous said:

    Few men are willing to put up with the shockingly low pay of beginning editors. I worked as in in-house editor at a publishing company in the Midwest for 3 years, only because I am married and it was a second income. There was only one male editor, but he also was making a “second” (if necessary to his family) income.

    Although I loved the work, I truly hated the fact that it was such a pink ghetto and that I could not support my family on my pay even though I was putting in 60-hour-plus weeks and churning out high-quality books for the publishers’ significant profit. The salespeople–90% male–of course made more and were considered our betters, in the eyes of the publisher.

  10. Anonymous said:

    Some of it, at least, is that women are not always as good at negotiating as men–we’re taught not to rock the boat, etc. Sometimes the guy gets paid more because he ASKS for it.

    It’s one of those things–I just accepted a job, and the person offering EXPLICITLY said, “We can be flexible on money.”

    So did I ask for more money?

    No. I probably could have gotten 10K/yr, more too–but I figured it was worth $10K to me not to have to ask, because I didn’t want to.

    Is that stupid? Yes. Really stupid. I did ask for some ancillary stuff to help me do my job, but I didn’t ask for $ and I’m sure I could have gotten it.

    Do I wish I had an agent to negotiate my day job? YES, a billion times. Am I sure that the man with my basic qualifications (there were about 5 hires this year) got more than me because he asked for it? Yes.

    There is also some institutional gender bias, but I think part of it is that some women, like me, are just too silly to ask.

  11. Anonymous said:

    Interesting on the pay scale disparity for women editors. One would think that publishing, being a bastian of liberal and enlightened individuals (so I’m told, anyway) would not be uncovered as just another sleazy haven for the monetary victimization of women workers. So much for equal pay for equal work. Shame on them.

  12. Anonymous said:

    Gender bias IS everywhere. And, speaking objectively, it was never more evident than in last year’s political race for President. It happened in both major political parties, by so-called liberals and conservatives. Everyone’s guilty.

    And if there’s a woman out there who can’t honestly step back and look at this objectively, I think this is where the problem just might begin. There is power in numbers, and it begins with solid support for each other.

    Good post.

  13. HeatherM said:

    Congrats to Jamie and you, that’s fantastic!

    I didn’t know that about editors. It’s sad to see that gender bias is still rooted into even the publishing world. The time for change is long past.

  14. Dara said:

    You’d think that in the 21st century such a bias wouldn’t exist. Sigh.

    Congrats to Jamie and you on the rising position on NYT! I simply adored his book; it definitely deserves the position it’s in!

  15. MeganRebekah said:

    I have always believed that women may not make as much as men, because they are not as focused on financial gain. Women are not as defined by monetary success as men, and don’t appear to feel the same drive to make money. Don’t misunderstand – money is definitely important to women too, it just does not define who they are. Men seem to allow money to define them more often.

    I had the opportunity to attend a top law school, but declined because personal success is more important to me than professional success. I would rather work in a job with meaning, than take a job with higher pay.

    Just my two cents worth.
    Please visit my blog and offer some much needed advice –

  16. TDP1789 said:

    Wait a minute! Before you break out the torches and pitchforks, you ought to actually read the survey. There are couple things to consider. First, the people who responded to the survey can be working for different companies. That means an editor at one publisher (female or male) could be making more or less than an editor at another company. It has nothing to do with gender but rather the salary the publisher offers. Also the number of people surveyed seems to be small enough to skew the numbers. So that in the case of V.P. Finance/Controller the female is listed as making $265,000 to her male counterpart’s $101,556. Perhaps that the kind of gender bias you’re looking for but I don’t believe that such a number would hold true industry-wide. That’s not the only place were women are earning significantly more than men in the survey. Other areas include International Rights Director/Manager the female pay is listed as 73,000 to the male’s 46,000 or Editor Director/Editor in Chief where the female pay is listed as 90,000 to the male’s 83,000. There are of course examples of men making more than women but there could be other factors that lead to the difference in salary that aren’t taken into account when showing gender salaries. Kristin also understates the role of women in the publishing industry. They dominate every category in the survey except management (of which they make up 40%). The areas they dominate include Sales/Marketing (69%), Editorial (74%), Operations (69%), and Rights (88%). Those are crazy numbers when you consider management makes up the smallest number of people.

  17. Anita said:

    For what it’s worth, I was trying to think of a “business” in which this is not an issue….the U.S. military is all I came up with…also, pilots are mostly paid by the hour and that pay basically increases by length of time with the airline.

  18. Jolie said:

    Moonrat, please DO get started. Do you (this is also directed at Kristin) think there is anything women in publishing can do about this problem? Could female editors effect a change, or is it a lost cause considering the already-tight budgets and low profit margins in publishing?

  19. Nom de Gare said:

    “I have always believed that women may not make as much as men, because they are not as focused on financial gain.”

    I’ve wondered if this might be a factor too, though it make me sad to think something so sexist about my male friends. But even if it’s true and if it’s a virtue, the problem is that it gets used against women, I think. The message (subliminal or explicit) from management in publishing companies is often: ‘You should be grateful to have such a stimulating, enjoyable, meaningful job. Lots of people would kill to work with books all day.’ The subtext being: ‘And if you don’t like the pay, we can easily find someone who’d be thrilled to have your job for less.’

    I do feel lucky to have a job I love, and I’d much rather have a great job and modest salary than a soulless job and buckets of cash. But the problem is that starting editorial salaries, especially for assistants, aren’t just modest – they can make eating and paying rent near impossible. People are in it for love – but they still need to eat.

    Which adds to the problem someone else mentioned – the low pay puts off people, men and women, from lower-income backgrounds. It’s much easier to contemplate a few years of impoverishment if you come from a more comfortable background, I think. Even if you never ask your family for help, you’re likely to be a bit less wary of risking debt and starvation – you’re more likely to assume (possibly delusionally!) that it’s a temporary state. I was, anyway – friends who had it tougher than I did growing up are much smarter with money than I am and much less likely to make dumb financial decisions like going into publishing 🙂

    Yes, please do get started, Moonrat! Would love to hear your thoughts on this…

  20. AJ said:

    It would be interesting if there was a way to see if male agents made more than female agents. My experience as an assistant and going to editorial drinking bashes, it seems male agents at the very least stand out more, and I’ve never heard a male agent get labeled as a “bitch”; more like “sticks to his guns.” I wonder if that effects how negotiations pan out. Would a male agent receive less resistance because it’s subconsciously assumed that he’s less likely to fold? Would editors think better of a male agent who stood firm than they would of a female agent who did the same? I mean, there’s been studies in the workplace that aggressive men make more money and earn more respect than aggressive women. Would be interesting if some subtle surveying could be done among editors.

    Also, want to point out your use of “women” as an adjective for “agents.” I know you didn’t mean to, but that sort of usage is problematic in itself. “Men” is hardly ever used as an adjective; I can only think of “man nurse” and “manny.” Where I’ve most often heard “women” used as an adjective is “women doctors” but it’s generally used in a way like “black and white television”: denoting something different from the norm. Or at least my Language and Sexism course taught me. ^-^ I just generally think that sticking to using woman/women as a noun is best.

  21. Jean said:

    Wow, I can’t believe that pay inequality is alive and well in editing. That really bugs me. As well, the pitance editors start at–well, it gives me a whole new appreciation for what they do.

  22. Dal Jeanis said:

    Ask your female colleagues –

    (1) how often have you left a job to get a higher rate of pay?
    (2) How often have you directly asked for a raise?
    (3) If you had a choice between getting a higher rate of pay but having worse relations with your peeers, or the reverse, what would you do?
    (4) The last time that you achieved recognition or a big success, what did you ask for in return?

    Then ask your male colleagues. Really, ask at least ten of each so that you get a good cross section. Just asking that question will teach you some things.

    Rule number one of business – you do not get what you deserve, YOU GET WHAT YOU NEGOTIATE.

    Learn to negotiate. Learn to ask.

    Ask so that you may … what?… receive.

    It is not the responsibility of any real business to achieve “parity” based upon counting dangly bits and taking away from those with danglies to give to those without danglies, or vice versa. It is the job of a business to achieve profit by getting the most productivity for the least cost. It is the job of a manager to guess who he / she has to give the jelly beans to in order to make that happen.

    Make sure he / she knows that you are a more-jelly-beans-NOW person rather than a go-along-to-get-along person.

    Ask for what you want, and ask for it at the right time and place and with the congruent belief that you will get what you ask for. Also: keep your resume up to date and on the market; learn what you are worth on the market, and let whoever makes salary decisions know that you know; be willing to abandon your coworkers and go elsewhere if you do not get what you deserve. That willingness will, in large part, ensure that you are treated fairly.

    Otherwise, your salary is your own fault, whether you own one of those bodies with or without the danglies.

  23. Dal Jeanis said:

    In response to “[women] are not as focused on financial gain”, Nome De Gare said, “I’ve wondered if this might be a factor too, though it make me sad to think something so sexist about my male friends.”

    I’m rolling on the floor laughing.

    Awesome illustration of the point.

    If significant numbers of women actually see a strong focus on financial success as a negative personality factor — a NEGATIVE about men!!!! — rather than a positive and healthy interest in providing for one’s self and family, then how can that help but have a depressive effect on the average female salary?

    The good thing is, these gender-based cultural views about earning money and asking for raises can be unlearned.

    Money is fine. Asking for money is fine. Getting what you are worth is fine.