I enjoyed a fabulous writer's conference, LDStorymakers, in Utah last month. Twelve classes provided great motivation, information, and ways to improve my craft. I reconnected with friends, my critique group, and met my new cover designer for "Samuel's Sword", coming out later this summer.
The keynote speaker was Shannon Hale, who spoke about representing genders and our choices with writing/reading. Boys suffer the most because they are taught not to read "girl books". Stories ABOUT girls (vs. calling them stories FOR girls) teach empathy toward females that males are missing. Girls get to read anything, but boys face social ridicule. We need to change that. Boys who learn to understand the feelings of girls will likely grow up to treat women better than those who don't.
Hale quoted some of her findings with industry sexism. On average, animated movies present 11 male main characters to 4 female. Crowd scenes portray 80% males. Male authors are typically promoted more, even by librarians. Hale has been invited to speak to school groups where the boys were not invited. What are we teaching boys? Hale encouraged that our voices matter. We should teach the ways we are more alike than not alike. We should not pre-select for others but enjoy the whole human experience. Loved it!