“You’re simply the best; better than all the rest.”
I’m completely hopeless at blowing my own trumpet. Not only do I find it embarrassing to say how great I am, but I also believe that my work should speak for itself. Positive word of mouth from your readers is the very best recommendation an author can have, bar none. Clearly it is not always possible to avoid talking about my books, because marketing is a key part of the modern writer’s job. I do, however, limit the amount of self publicity I do, and I do not market my training work at all. I suspect this aspect of having a career is something that a lot of women struggle with – the idea of saying how wonderful we are or asking for more money is at odds, perhaps, with the way that we were brought up.
Having said all the above, I am one of the best-selling education authors in the UK. In total, my books have sold over a million copies, with Getting the Buggers to Behave not far from reaching half a million sales. My books are on set text lists at universities, and have been translated into numerous languages. I am one of the very few education authors who makes a decent living out of writing. And yet … and yet …
I find myself frustrated at the number of ‘recommended education book’ lists I see that contain no women, or only one (Carol Dweck, clearly). This is not to say that I expect to see my own books on these lists, but I am not the only woman currently writing in this field. (For a list of 100+ others, go here.) What really grates, though, is that when I flag this up as an issue, I often get an exasperated response. The message? ‘Well, all we did was pick the best … and coincidentally they were all men’. I’ve had the same discussion over all-male or mostly-male speaker lists at conferences, and lists of ‘best blogs’ that wipe an entire gender out of the equation. People from black or ethnic minority backgrounds face the same problem of a lack of representation – if you went solely by these lists, you’d assume that the UK had no racial diversity at all.
I’m aware that this blog will have some people tutting loudly, calling me a spoilsport, or hitting the ‘unfollow’ button on Twitter. It’s a risk you take when you call something out. But the worst thing I could do is to stay silent. Not for my own sake. As an established author things are not hard for me. But as an educator, I have to ask why certain groups are so poorly represented. I have a duty to ask why, to challenge the status quo, and to try and effect change in the future. I have a duty to the next generation. And so, I believe, do we all.