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Why is it that Women Outnumber Men at Fiction Writing Workshops?

Fiction writing workshops in Singapore are as rare as carnivals must be, in inner Siberia. Good writing workshops? Fuggedaboutit.

In the sort of torpor I’m in these days, I wander into them just because (or maybe because any workshop at all is rare), not really caring whether they would add anything to my admittedly limited writing arsenal. (Most don’t.)

But there’s one thing I’ve noted in all writing workshops I go to (including the one I went to this Saturday): the women outnumber the men by 10:1. But, there seem to be more published male writers than female in Singapore. Not 10:1, maybe something like 10:6 (Okay, I pulled that last publishing stat out my hat. But seriously, that’s what it seems like.)

So where do all these (aspiring) women writers taking workshops disappear? And where do these men who get the stories and novels out there learn their craft from? Big mystery, as far as I’m concerned.

What is your experience, if you’re from the US or UK? If you’re local, what has been your experience? Do women outnumber men at Writing workshops? Or is it vice versa?

Damyanti Biswas

Damyanti Biswas is the author of You Beneath Your Skin and numerous short stories that have been published in magazines and anthologies in the US, the UK, and Asia. She has been shortlisted for Best Small Fictions and Bath Novel Awards and is co-editor of the Forge Literary Magazine. Her literary crime thriller series, the Blue Mumbai, is represented by Lucienne Diver from The Knight Agency. Both The Blue Bar and The Blue Monsoon were published in 2023.

I appreciate comments, and I always visit back. If you're having trouble commenting, let me know via the contact form, or tweet me up @damyantig !

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  • Arlee Bird says:

    I've seen the same thing at the few workshops I've attended–definitely more women than men. I also agree there seem to be more women writers then men on blogs. Maybe it's because men are less social when it comes to intellectual endeavors.

    Tossing It Out

  • Wendy Lu says:

    I've hosted a couple of writing seminars at my university, but the male:female ratio was actually pretty even! It doesn't surprise me, though, that you've noticed otherwise. Women tend to find a lot of value in learning through relationships, community-based activities, interacting with others verbally and emotionally. (That's not to say men don't, of course!) So that may serve as part of the explanation.

    Hope you're having a wonderful week!

    ~Wendy Lu

    The Red Angel

  • I've never been to a writers' workshop…too busy thinking I guess…still trying to figure out why a woman writer isn't called a "writess".

    Is that topic covered any workshop? If not, maybe I could be a guest speaker, if I can ever figure that out! 😉

    That could take awhile though…first I have to figure out why all Hollywood performers are now referred to as "actors" and not as "actresses"…it's an equality thing.

  • Daniel says:

    One fantasy publisher reported seeing the same kind of thing with submissions. More men submit manuscripts than women. Even though the acceptance rate was virtually the same for both genders, it *appeared* as if the publisher was favoring male authors.

    However, more women than men read books, and as others have pointed out, female writers seem to outnumber male writers in the online conversations.

    I'm not sure what to make of all this. Does the disparity in submissions hint at a lack of confidence? Does the higher participation in online communities and workshops indicate a stronger desire for support?

    I don't know the answers, but I wish the best of luck to any writer who wants to publish his or her book.

  • Tina says:

    I've never had the privilege of going to a writing workshop. I read more books by women, but not on purpose. The murder mysteries I love are mostly written by women, even the really gory, nasty, sicko crime ones. I always say I'm not reading another Karin Slaughter book because her perps are so evil, but then I do, because I love the detectives, who stay in the stories…
    Tina @ Life is Good
    P.S Good to see you writing again!

  • Rob Greene says:

    I've done a little research on this at the high-school level …

  • Donna Hole says:

    I don't think I've noticed. But, men were a rare commodity in my face to face writers group, so you may have something here.


    • Damyanti says:

      Yeah, it seems to be a universal thing: more women at public writing endeavors than men. I wonder what the various MFA stats say?

    • When I attend NE-SCBWI Conference each year, so many more women attend that they switched most of the men's bathrooms to women's bathrooms. I think a lot of stay-at-home moms want to be doing something. If they were interested in writing, it's a natural choice to want to write a book. Just a theory though.

  • Jo says:

    Maybe the men don't feel they have anything to learn.

  • M Pax says:

    Women out number men in my writing guild, too. I'm lucky to have two men in my crit group. Because they think and perceive differently than women.

    • Damyanti says:

      Yep, I agree that men provide a different sort of crit. Was very helpful for me to have men in my writing group at one point of time — most of my stories seem to be written from the male pov!

  • I've never been to a workshop but I agree with Richard that women outnumber us online.

    • Damyanti says:

      See Alex 🙂 you're yet another male writer who is a non-workshopgoer! A bestselling writer, no less 😀

  • LinWash says:

    In my grad program (writing for children and young adults), the women outnumber the men by a significant amount. My SCBWI group has a few more men than in my program, but the women outnumber the men.

  • I'd say, in the blogosphere, the number of women writing far outnumber the men.

  • I remember going to SCBWI conferences where there were over 1000 women and 8 men. There are more men attending the RWA national conferences, but then there are more attendees there, period, so the proportion might not be much different.

    It makes the bathroom situation more challenging. 🙂