IN a country in which women outnumber men, only 37% of books published in Scotland are by women, according to a new report.

The first research findings released by the Represent, Object, Advocate, Rewrite (ROAR) group have revealed that gender inequality in the Scottish literary sector remains structural and persistent.

Founded in 2016, ROAR works to combat inequality in Scottish writing and publishing. With members from Scottish PEN, Creative Scotland, Scottish Book Trust, Waterstones, Glasgow Women’s Library and more, ROAR represents voices from across the literary sector.

The findings come from research by doctoral researcher Christina Neuwirth. Her report, Women of Words: Gender equality in contemporary writing and publishing in Scotland, was funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council and the Scottish Graduate School for Arts and Humanities.

Her findings are conclusive: from January to December 2017, only 37% of authors whose books were published in Scotland were women – 14.5% lower than the ratio of women in the general population.

The genre in which women fared the worst was non-fiction about Scotland – only four women were published in 2017, compared to 30 men. In the thriller, mystery and crime genre, double the number of men were published, and for the humour and sports books category, no women were published at all.

There were only three genres in which women were more represented than men – literary narrative non-fiction, in which nine women were published compared to one man; and romance fiction, with 11 women authors and three male authors.

Children’s literature and historical fiction were the most balanced genres, with 40 women and 37 men being published in children’s books, and five men and five women published in historical fiction.

Scottish media coverage of literature was also analysed by the study. It revealed that in 2017, national newspapers The Herald and The Scotsman published reviews of 604 authors’ books – 65% of authors reviewed were men, and 35% were women.

Disparity was even greater in the number of reviews – 86% of reviews were written by men, and 14% by women. Of all reviews, 58% were reviews of male authors’ books, written by male reviewers. In contrast, 7% of all book reviews that year were women’s books reviewed by women.

Literature Alliance Scotland’s communications officer Jenny Kumar said: “This important research demonstrates unequivocally that we collectively have a long way to go to level the gender playing field, and that as a sector we need to work together and take responsibility to contribute towards positive change in all that we do, every day.

“For our members that means driving for better representation and inclusivity at all levels.”