Business bestsellers: Where are all the female authors?

Women seem to need to work twice as hard to get their voice heard and their words read.

by Sarah Ellis and Lydia Yadi

The industry perspective

Lydia Yadi, commissioning editor, Penguin Business

If I asked you to close your eyes and imagine a stereotypical business reader or author, chances are you’d picture a white affluent man in a grey suit. Traditionally, business books were written by men for men, and while I’m happy to say that’s largely not the case today, there are still many more male writers in this area than there are female. Nielsen Bookscan data shows that in 2019 only three of the Business Category Top 50 books were written by women including Doughnut Economics by Kate Raworth and The Great Economists by Linda Yueh. There were five in 2018. 

So why aren’t there more female writers in the business space?

In order to address the imbalance between male and female business publishing, the push within the industry (and society more generally) has been to celebrate female CEOs and entrepreneurs by championing their experience of being a woman in business and focus on how they made it in a man’s world. While there is, of course, a real need for memoirs and practical advice books of this kind, and I’ve published many of them (millennial pink covers included!), I think it’s really problematic if most of the business books written by women are only centred on the experience of being a woman at work. The publishing industry needs to get better at finding academics, experts, entrepreneurs and change-makers who will explore broad business subjects that appeal to all readers, no matter the gender. 

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