And the Award for 'Novel of the Year' Goes to: Gender Bias in Literary Prizes

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This thesis will discuss gender bias in the field of English literary awards, focusing in particular on the Man Booker Prize, the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the National Book Awards between 2000 and 2018. The research question that this thesis will answer is “To what extent do literary prizes portray a gender bias that favours male authors over female authors?” It will be argued that masculinity is preferred over femininity in the working environment and that this is attributed to masculinised characteristics. The same gendered concept can be applied to the artistic field, as the archetype artist is regarded as male due to the ideology of the artist, the structure of social perceptions of the artist, and the structure of the artists career. The masculinisation of the archetype artist causes a gender bias within the literary field, thereby denying female artists the same chance at accumulating symbolic capital. Bourdieu argues that symbolic capital is necessary for acquiring economic capital, which in the context of literary prizes consists of improved book sales and award money when winning a literary award. The results of the study indicate although literary prizes appear to have become more female-friendly, in reality they are less female friendly than at the start of the measuring period in 2000. This is due to a higher number of shortlisted female authors that was not reflected in the numbers of female winners. Therefore, a gender bias appears to be present in the awarding literary prizes, yet not in the nominating of candidates. Keywords: gender bias, literary awards, Man Booker Prize, Pulitzer Prize, National Book Awards, masculinisation, archetype artist, symbolic capital, economic capital, Bourdieu
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