Attention female authors: you may be being segregated from your male peers on Wikipedia. On the online encyclopedia's "American Novelists" page, women authors are hard to find. Instead they have been filed primarily under "American Women Novelists."
Women Writers take heed, you are being erased on Wikipedia. It would appear that in order to make room for male writers, women novelists (such as Amy Tan, Harper Lee, Donna Tartt and 300 others) have been moved off the "American Novelists" page and into the "American Women Novelists" category. Not the back of the bus, or the kiddie table exactly--except of course--when you google "American Novelists" the list that appears is almost exclusively men (3,387 men). The explanation on the pages is that the list of American Novelists is too long, therefore sub-categories are necessary.
Idea: What about, "American Novelists with Penises" "American Novelists Who Are Vastly Over-Rated and Over-Paid" or "American Novelists Who Aren't Being Read But Should Be" (Here you'd find a lot of women, people of color...)
Want to see where you're sitting for eternity? Take a peek.
A disclaimer at the top of the American Novelists page reads, "This category may require frequent maintenance to avoid becoming too large. It should directly contain very few, if any, articles and should mainly contain subcategories." Schappell suggests that Wikipedia dealt with this space issue by moving the female authors off the page.
The Huffington Post reached out to Wikipedia for a response to Schappell and Filipacchi's claims but so far has not heard back.
This is far from the first time that someone has expressed ire over the "second-class" treatment of female authors. VIDA, an organization dedicated to women in literary arts, pointed out that in 2011 the New York Times Book Review printed reviews of 520 male authors' books and only 273 books written by women.
In a recent blog post on The Huffington Post, author Liza Palmer wrote about the double standard that exists in the literary world:
All too often, when a woman writes a book about family and relationships the reader will sigh that she felt the narrator's inner monologues were "whiny" whereas when a male writer contemplates these same topics he is being "introspective." If a female writer uses humor in her dialogue she will be dismissed as "snarky", whereas if a male writer uses humor, he has a "biting wit." So called chick-lit writers get pinned with "predictable" endings, while male writers writing about the same topics have endings that are "satisfying."
Perhaps it's time that Wikipedia realized that both men and women are great American novelists and should show up when you search for them.
UPDATE: 4/25/13 8:45am -- As of yesterday evening, female authors have begun appearing back on the "American Novelists" page. (For example, under "A," Megan Abbott and Diana Abu-Jaber were not listed when this piece was first published.)
LOOK: Outrage Over "American Women Novelists" On Twitter