Non-Diversity Apologists still abound in Comics

I did a dumb thing today.

I read the comments below this post at the Marvel: The Untold Story page:

And immediately lost another month off my life due to the immediate blood pressure spike.

I recovered some of those lost future days by reading the source article upon which the comments were theoretically made:

Why do the moron patrol spout their ill-informed opinions when the confounding data is so easy to obtain?  If there was no systemic discrimination biasing the work-for-hire systems at the Big Two (DC and Marvel) towards white males, I’d expect to see a relative population among female creators somewhere better than the female engineering population we see in the tech industry (which according to the best of the paucity of data out there, is around 12%).

Here’s the latest figures for DC’s male-to-female stats:

And for reference, here’s a similar study of both DC and Marvel from 2012:

Analysis/conjecture: the % of creators hired by the Big Two who are female has consistently peaked in the low teens, and even % of back-office employees is generally lower than the magic 30% threshold (where “gender diversity” is celebrated, and beyond which females start to experience a marked uptick in pushback, and “diversity initiatives” start to see institutionalized resistance).  And sadly, this is years after fans demand DC take action to change it (and they agreed).  Maybe DC thinks that <10% is their end goal?

Hell, when one of the paragons of progressive thinking and hiring, Apple, can’t even make it past 30%, where do smaller creative companies and the masses of ‘invisible’ tech corporations stand a chance?  Google’s 30% is even held up as an achievement, which is DEPRESSING.

Contrary to what I’ve heard in the comics press and hallways for years, comics fans are about half female these days.  Hasn’t always been that way, but it’s also fascinating that readership has achieved near-parity when many (men of course) predicted it would never, and that maybe it shouldn’t (to preserve the enclave of “what we white males have always enjoyed in the safe past”).  It’s not like there isn’t interest from females, and I’d predict this to bleed into the creative population who’s trying to get a gig there – it would blow my mind that only 10% of the people trying to create comics are women.  (This article mentions women outnumber men in an undergraduate cartooning setting, for example, and then quotes the instructor, “It’s also not uncommon that they’re the best students in class”.)

So assume for a moment the fantastic proposition that there’s a greater proportion of women clamouring for the gig than are getting the gig, what does that say about the selection filter: are those making the hire decisions going to explain this by saying that the greater proportion of women aren’t as talented as the men?  That they aren’t applying through the correct/operative/off-the-books channels?  Or that they are actually just more comfortable hiring people like them (white, male, cis)?

[Relevant anecdote: Bobbie Chase, a female editorial director for DC, was quoted in this article saying, “We’re pursuing people all the time who could be new voices for comic books, but it’s still going to be a predominantly male industry. I don’t think that has to change, but we can certainly make a much better balance.”]

[Another relevant anecdote: Ann Nocenti in this article said, “Its undeniable when you look at industry-wide statistics, women are hired low, their salaries are lower; I think statistically you can say women aren’t treated fairly in any industry.”]

Any answer raises troubling questions that I really hope are being examined and answered honestly, and which will drive systemic change in both the comics and the tech industry.

Even freakish Cap thinks there’s a problem here


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