Women & Publishing: Why Are Salaries So Low?

While there is no contesting the existence of a disparity in pay among male and female professionals in any given industry, it unfortunately isn’t considered breaking news anymore. Known as the gender pay gap, it claims that women are often paid a fraction the salaries that men are for the exact same job. According to a recent article in the New York Times, the gender pay gap doesn’t quite stop there either: “when women enter fields in greater numbers, pay declines — for the very same jobs that more men were doing before.”

Interestingly, publishing has, for the past few years, been considered more ‘feminine.’ Women have dominated the publishing industry, leaving the act of writing for men. In 2010, Publisher’s Weekly declared that a majority of employees in the publishing industry are women: “85% of publishing employees with less than three years of experience are women.”

As an industry that is notorious for having low-paying entry level jobs, does the fact that publishing is a female-dominated (and potentially focused) field have anything to do with that fact? Suzanne Collier of BookCareers.com notes that “entry-level jobs are still paying the same amount they were five years ago.”

Additionally, Rachel Deahl, author of the Publisher’s Weekly article addresses the fact that statistically, women and girls are most likely to buy books. Upon hearing similar statistics, a former editor at St. Martin’s Press, Jason Pinter, asked if  this was due to the fact that women dominate the field and may unintentionally be producing and marketing the products to people similar to themselves (i.e. other women). If so, this connects to Suzanne Collier’s second claim that the lack of diversity in the industry is caused by the salary issue. If this is the case, the low wages of entry-level positions may be hurting the industry as a whole in addition to those working for those wages. If publishing professionals don’t come from a diverse enough background, can they rise to the task of selecting, publishing, and marketing books that will appeal to a diverse audience?