Nearly 80 percent of publishing and review journal staff is white, according to the 2015 “Diversity Baseline Survey,” which found that the book industry is also primarily female (78.2 percent).
Released today, the survey results, while not unexpected, add another dimension to the ongoing discussion about diversity in children’s books.
Spearheaded by Jason Low, publisher of Lee & Low Books, the survey was sent to 11,713 publishing employees by 34 participating publishers, which included Penguin Random House, Hachette Book Group, and other major houses, according to today’s blog post on the Lee & Low site. The one-page questionnaire asked employees to anonymously provide their racial identity, gender, sexual orientation, and disability status.
Eight publications, from Kirkus Reviews and Publishers Weekly to The Horn Book and School Library Journal, administered the survey to 1,524 review journal employees. Total survey results reflect a 25.8 percent response rate, Low reported in the post.
Just under 80 percent of publishing staff and review journal staff self-identify as white, according to the survey, followed by Asians/Native Hawaiians/Pacific Islanders at 7.2 percent and Hispanics/Latinos/Mexicans (5.5 percent). Black/African Americans comprise 3.5 percent of publishing employees, and biracial/multiracial people, 2.7 percent, Native Americans, 0.5 percent, and Middle Easterners, 0.8 percent.
“While all racial/ethnic minorities are underrepresented when compared to the general US population, the numbers show that some groups, such as Black/African Americans, are more severely underrepresented,” writes Low. “This mirrors trends among children’s book authors. In 2014, just 2 percent of the books tracked by the Cooperative Children’s Book Center were by black authors. Latinos were similarly underrepresented in both places.”
The survey infographic is reproduced below with permission of Lee & Low.
For a complete list of participating publishers and review journals, see “Behind the Scenes of Publishing’s First Diversity Baseline Survey.”