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As a veteran of the fight for feminism I ought to be satisfied. Equal rights, opportunities and pay for men and women, non-existent when I was young, have come to be taken for granted in our society. We won.

Or did we? A recent spurt of complaints about the underrepresentation of women in almost every field of creative endeavour suggests that there are still battles to be fought. "Cultural femicide" is bewailed by one writer. Another produces statistical evidence showing "the erasure of women from public life". Women working in creative and media industries, according to the training organisation Skillset, are better qualified than their male counterparts but in comparison with them are underrepresented and underpaid. The chief executive of the Women's Sports Foundation said that very few women, in any sport, are involved in decision-making. Numerous reports have pointed out the underrepresentation of women in science and mathematics. A recent parliamentary committee discussing abortion had no female members.

The Guardian pointed out that men's voices dominate the airwaves (the figure is between 75 and 95 per cent) and their words dominate the newspapers, in which roughly a quarter of bylines are women's. 

At least in the world of books there is a decent proportion of women: they are in senior publishing posts, they are successful agents and influential literary editors, and there have always been famous women writers and  critics. Yet it was because prize lists were so dominated by men that the Orange Prize, for women only, was set up. There is no equivalent to right the imbalance in reviews but things have not changed much in the 25 years since a book called Reviewing the Reviews identified a bias against women reviewers. As one  woman writer recently remarked,  "Literary commentary is like a party one hasn't been invited to." 

In my own speciality of crime fiction, about one third of the books published in any year are by women. The percentage reviewed is far smaller however hard the reviewer tries — and I do try. A disproportionate number of women crimewriters are published by firms which have ceased to send books out for review. Of the 53 crime novels I received last month, only 13 are by women. As for science fiction and fantasy, from comment published about those genres you would think women never read them at all. 

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