Reader query: Reviewing all male book

A (male, tenured) reader writes:

I have to review a book that came out in 2013. It contains 14 essays, with 15 authors (as one is co-authored). I agreed to do it without considering the makeup of the authors. Now I see that all the authors are men.

I’m looking for some advice on how to mention the gender makeup of the volume. My gut instinct to say something snarky. But snark can be a mistake.

I’m tenured and willing to take hostile responses from just about anyone. So I don’t have to worry about how it will effect me.

Thanks for any advice you can supply!

6 thoughts on “Reader query: Reviewing all male book

  1. I’d say something straightforward, like: “All 15 contributors to this volume are men. Given the increasing awareness of the problems of gendered volumes and conferences in philosophy, it’s quite unfortunate that neither the volume editor nor the reviewers for the press decided that contributions by women were essential to include. For this reason, I would not assign the volume in a course.”

  2. I agree with Sherri Irvin’s suggestion. Also, you are probably knowledgeable enough about this field to identify who else should have been invited to contribute to it and what those contributors might have added, hence what views and theories are missing from the book.

  3. If it were me, I might consider also mentioning something along the lines of, as you say, “I agreed to do it without considering the makeup of the authors. Now I see that all the authors are men.”

    This could show that you don’t consider yourself above criticism and/or the most conscientious person in the world about philosophy’s gender inequities. Then, if you decide to say something somewhat snarky or cutting, readers are less likely to uncharitably read you as merely trying to ‘score points’ — and thus take your point more seriously.
    just my 2c

  4. I am slightly wary of the idea of naming specific people who should have been included. If you say, “the editors should have invited X to contribute” it allows them to respond “we did and she declined” in a way which might encourage them and others to think that this is not their fault or that nothing more could have been done or asked of them. Whether they asked twenty women to contribute or zero they still published a volume containing only contributions from men, an outcome that seems bad regardless of the process from which it resulted.

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