The Increasingly Dominant Role of Women in Book Publishing

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The evidence is clear. In most areas of book publishing, except at the very top level, women are still making less money than men for doing the same jobs. But this situation is changing. Each year we see women's compensation coming closer to parity with men. And perhaps of more importance, women are being given the opportunity to hold leadership positions.

On the editorial side of publishing, women now have an equal share of the top jobs, and at the business and corporate level, women are closing the gap.

It is always embarrassing to make up a list of women or minorities who have succeeded in a particular profession. It smacks of tokenism. Yet it does serve a purpose, offering encouragement to those coming into the field, and a realization that just below these leaders are dozens of middle-management publishing professionals poised for that rapid move to the corner office.

The former publisher of Random House, Joni Evans, has said: "The great thing about publishing is that it's entrepreneurial… if you signed up a best-seller, or edited it, or sold the subsidiary rights, you would get a report card quickly."

Here is a partial list of those who have made it to top managerial positions at this writing:
  • Carole Baron-President and Publisher, Dell Publishing

  • Maureen Egan-Publisher, Warner Paperback Books

  • Phyllis Grann-President and CEO, the Putnam Berkley Group

  • Linda Grey-President, Ballantine Publishing Group

  • Barbara Grossman-Publisher, Viking Penguin

  • Alice Mayhew-Vice President and Editorial Director, Simon & Schuster Trade Division

  • Susan Petersen-Publisher, Riverhead Books (Putnam) Michelle Sidrane-Executive Vice President and Publisher, Crown (Random House)

  • Nan Talese-Senior Vice President, Doubleday Susan Weinberg-Vice President and Managing Director, Quality Paperback Book Club

  • Ellen Crowley-Vice President and Publisher, Gale Research
The Women's National Book Association

The Women's National Book Association (WNBA) was established in 1917 in New York City by a group of fifteen women who were refused admission to the annual booksellers' convention. Their purpose was to organize women who worked in all branches of the book industry, and to support the role of women in the profession.

Since that time the group has grown to an organization of almost a thousand members, with active chapters in New York, Boston, Nashville, Binghamton, Detroit, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Dallas, and Washington, D.C.

What is unique about the WNBA is the diversity of its member-ship, which includes publishers, booksellers, writers, editors, agents, designers, illustrators, and book and magazine producers.

The WNBA defines its role as follows:
  • Serves as a network for professionals in the field.

  • Provides a forum for exchange of ideas and information.

  • Generates contacts and connections at all career levels.

  • Promotes recognition of women's achievements in the book world.
For further information about this important organization, write or call WNBA, 160 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010, (212) 675-7805.
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