One of the most exciting developments in global publishing this year has been the emergence of PublisHer, an all-female coterie of publishing professionals who will stand no nonsense about publishing being “a man’s world”.

PublisHer, in the words of the new website,

is a call to action led by female publishing leaders to address their industry’s entrenched gender imbalances and drive an international agenda for change.

PublisHer is an empowered community seeking creative, viable solutions to the many gender-based inequities that have long characterized world publishing and the other creative industries.

The new website? Until now PublisHer has managed with a Facebook group, but today comes news the new Publisher website is live.

In the interests of clarity, while the name PublisHer is a clever play on publishing and gender it does present Google some with some challenges.

Both the Facebook and twitter accounts for PubllsHer are @PublisherEvents

The PublisHer Facebook Group page tells us:

The PublisHer initiative was created by Bodour Al Qasimi, Vice President of International Publishers Association (IPA), Founder and CEO of Kalimat Group – Sharjah UAE, to empower women in publishing. The networking forum is a space for women to celebrate women, discuss pressing issues faced in the industry and find scalable solutions. Events include intimate gatherings, panel discussions, business networking forums, and online discussions all aimed to unify and strengthen the community. Join the page to stay up to date on all related events, discussions, and news.

PublisHer emerged on the sidelines of international literary events and book fairs, where it drew international attention to the issue and inspired a growing base of supporters.

At a time when western publishing is unquestionably dominated by older white males, and men still, it seems, hold sway over publishing internationally, the PublisHer initiative is as refreshing as it is desperately needed, and the Executive Committee line-up sends a clear message to the global publishing community: the days are numbered for the days when gender, race, class could hold back a publishing career.

Here’s the Executive Committee as the new website goes live:

  • Bodour Al Qasimi – Vice-President, International Publishers Association (IPA)
  • Tracey Armstrong – President and CEO, Copyright Clearance Center
  • Ana Maria Cabanellas – President, Grupo Claridad
  • Caroline Fortin -Vice-President, QA International
  • Bibi Bakare-Yusuf – Co-Founder and Director, Cassava Republic Press
  • Trasvin Jittidecharak – Founder, Silkworm Books
  • Eva Bonnier – Owner and Senior Publisher, Albert Bonniers Förlag

The origins of Publisher lie in a get together in 2018 when, the website explains,

Bodour Al Qasimi and fellow women publishers decided to change their industry by tackling its long-established gender disparities, especially at the top. Bodour and Maria Pallante, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Association of American Publishers, consulted with a peer group at London Book Fair in March 2019, then again in Nairobi, Kenya at the International Publishers Association’s second Africa Seminar, in June 2019. The consultations centred on complex, systemic gender diversity and inclusion challenges, such as:

  • How exclusion and gender bias affect women day-to-day and over their careers
  • Impacts on the content and diversity in books
  • How diversity and inclusivity should be industry and company-level priorities
  • How individuals can support female colleagues
  • Increasing diversity and inclusivity in international bodies like the International Publishers Association (IPA), the International Federation of Reproduction Rights Organizations (IFRRO), and the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO)
  • Supporting diverse authors to write more books, getting publishers to publish them, and encouraging bookstores, libraries, and schools to stock them

Common issues to have emerged from PublisHer sessions at recent major book fairs include:

  • Lack of career progression and mobility, particularly at executive level
  • Gender biases and related pay gaps
  • Limited access to female mentors and role models
  • Lack of spaces for publishers to discuss policies, programs, and best practices for making progress on diversity and inclusion
  • Career-life balance and associated issues like suitable facilities and flexible working
  • Resources for women to learn about job, board, and speaking opportunities
  • Government interventions to improve labour policies and employer practices

The website About section concludes:

PublisHer is a platform for new ideas and initiatives to catalyze progress, partnerships, and action. PublisHer aims to be a point of reference for new approaches to diversity and inclusivity.

Some creative ideas gleaned from PublisHer consultations that are under consideration are:

  • Developing and sharing gender diversity and empowerment good practices
  • Helping publishers to improve recruitment policies, facilities, and professional support for women
  • Starting career mentorship and coaching schemes
  • Harvesting and sharing data to underpin advocacy work and support changes in employer practices
  • Aggregating publishing job, board, and speaking opportunities for women
  • Identifying celebrating and rewarding gender diversity champions
  • Advising educational institutions and providing career path information to persuade more women to enter publishing

Read more about the Executive Commmittee and recent Publisher events at the new website here.