15 Susannah Charlton discusses how WiP challenged the status quo


It seems hard to imagine, I know, but at that stage the whole idea of setting up a network just for women, that was focused on their career, was seen as somehow slightly subversive, you know, because it was outside the existing professional structure and the structure of the formal workplace. So in that extent it was challenging the status quo, it was challenging the status quo – a woman getting paid less within publishing, being promoted less, taken less seriously.

And there was, and I suspect still is, an issue in terms of how women’s books were perceived, and that was one of the reasons why the Orange Prize was founded, because women’s books were not reviewed in anything like the same percentage as men’s books on the review pages; I suspect as part of an overall cultural bias towards thinking that men’s outlook and position is more inherently worthy of attention, and that the things men write about are more important than the things women write about. And it remains a complete puzzle to me why that should be the case.

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