Fringe Reviews: Research reveals gender bias across leading publications

I was unable to see any Fringe shows this year due to a crippling bout of agoraphobia . I was miserable to be missing out, and by my third month of hermit-like existence I was desperate to participate in some way, so idly decided to tally up a few star ratings to see if men and women were rated equally . It’ll kill an hour or so, I thought, and in any case, I was running short on episodes of Undercover Boss.

What followed turned into a two week full-time project, during which I had to teach myself first Excel and then (in a late realisation) basic maths.

What follows are my findings. It’s a long read, but don’t worry, there’s pictures.

*****

Review stars, eh? What a wonderful, unbiased way of summarising the artistic originality and accomplishment of an act. In the Edinburgh sea of nearly 4000 comedy shows, the 1*- 5* rating system is an easy way of separating the wheat from the chaff, and letting punters know the best shows out there.

Or is it?

During August, I’ve lurked like a benign spectre on various Facebook groups for performers and have seen the same themes crop up again and again. Gender bias. This publication only awards 1*s to women. That reviewer only rates men. This reviewer reckons a woman discussing her fertility is somehow too niche for public consumption: two stars.

Of course, it would be unnatural if there weren’t a small punnet of sour grapes attached to some of these remarks; a comic probably won’t ask a reviewer to their wedding if they’ve said their show’s a hackneyed pile of garbage.

But individual beefs aside, I wanted to know if there was any truth in the rumours of gender bias in the awarding of stars, so I decided to crunch the numbers to ascertain if bias really existed, and who the worst offenders were.

In all, I looked at 1530 reviews across 12 publications: Fest, The Skinny, Broadway Baby, Ed Fest Mag, The Wee Review, The Scotsman, One 4 Review, Chortle, Fringe Guru, The List, The Telegraph and The Guardian. Although the latter two had small sample sizes, their ratings mean a lot so were worthy of inclusion. (I’m sure I missed some important publications, and it would help me greatly if you could let me know in the comments, just in case I decide to embark upon this foolhardy enterprise again next year).

There are significant limitations to my research. The data were collected on 24 August before all publications has submitted their reviews, and is therefore not entirely complete (this was the only way to analyse the data before the Fringe was a distant memory). I had to make not-wholly-scientific decisions about who I included; although I only analysed the ‘comedy’ category, I had to make judgement calls about large mixed-gender troupes (I left them out) and sketch groups where the ratio is two male one female and a female director (thanks Geins) or vice versa. A serious criticism of the research is that it operates on the gender binary – I had to guess gender from the artist’s name; failing that from their photo; and if I was really stuck then the pronouns used in the show blurb, so anyone who chose to identify as non-binary would likely have been noticed but the research doesn’t have the capacity to account for this. Finally, the research ignores intersectional axes of oppression such as disability, sexuality, race, religion and class. Although these are big issues and shouldn’t be ignored, it would have been impossible and foolish to try and make judgement calls about these signifiers based on the little information I had.

One factor I was really shocked by is that the Edinburgh Fringe don’t collate any information whatsoever about the demographic of participants – and this would be so easy to do, since performers must complete some sort of registration – how hard would it be to include an equal opportunities monitoring form? When I spoke to the press office to see if they held data on the gender split of comics at the Fringe, my question was blithely laughed off with the claim that ‘the Fringe is open to everyone’.

Yes, but so is Eton. Oh, unless you’re a woman (amirite Lou Sanders?). It seems to me that the Fringe is missing a big trick here, and as it becomes increasingly crowded with performers and expensive to play, it seems likely that the most privileged groups will dominate and elitism will prevail. Equalities monitoring wouldn’t stop that, but it would give a jumping off point to understand how structural inequalities are preventing certain groups from participating in this ostensibly ‘open’ event.

Notwithstanding the limitations of the data, here’s what I discovered.

There are more male than female comics performing so you can’t compare like for like. The publications I looked at reviewed an average of 69% men to 31% women, so star ratings were weighted to reflect this. Here’s how all stars awarded looked across all publications.

Control Data

Looks pretty unbiased, right? With the exception of the male weighting towards 1* reviews (which is a little misleading as the sample size of 1* reviews is tiny – many publications don’t give any at all).

But although the overall picture looks benign, once I began to break down star ratings to each publication, a different picture emerged.

In order to ascertain how fairly stars were awarded to men and women, I calculated the average gender split reviewed by each publication, and then worked out what percentage of stars were awarded to men and women in each ratings category. So, as an example, The Wee Review reviewed 66% men and 34% women, yet awarded 93% of their five star ratings to men and the remaining 7% to women, so it’s clear to see that there is some bias at play here. However, the same publication may not replicate the same level of bias across all star categories – for instance, in the case of this publication the 4* awards were tipped in favour of women, and the 3* awards were fairly even.

It’s not an exact science.

Wee Review

I’d gone in, somewhat naively, expecting bias to be screaming itself loud and clear from the rooftops, and yet the findings were nowhere near that simple.

There was only one publication – The Scotsman – that indicated bias in favour of men across the board, awarding them far more 5* and 4* ratings and reserving the 1*s and 2*s for the women. I spoke to the Arts Editor of this magazine for comment, however he simply informed me that his reviewers were all unbiased and highly experienced thank-you-very-much and assured me my remarks would be borne in mind at next year’s festival. So much, so revolutionary.

Scotsman

By contrast, I spoke to Ben Venables, editor of The Skinny, which was much more favourable to women in awarding star ratings across the board. Ben explained there was a clear ethos in place about criteria for reviewing in general; schedules were assigned in advance and at random so reviewers could not choose ‘favourite’ performers – a reviewer from a different publication (who asked not to be named) told me that it’s commonplace for people to choose who they review. The Skinny placed an emphasis on seeing acts debuting the Fringe for the first time, and there was a strict criteria for allocation of stars, with very few being given out at both ends of the spectrum. Even more hearteningly, Ben showed an awareness that even where they were getting it right on areas like gender, their reviewers still tended to meet a certain age, race and class demographic. He recognised the imperfections in their system, which is at least a start. He also told me that they vet potential reviewers. Anyone with the attitude that ‘women aren’t funny’ never gets through the door.

Skinny

Of the other publications I reviewed, it was hard to draw any concrete conclusions as each one painted a unique picture. It did seem as if more 5* awards were going to men with the notable exception of Edinburgh Comedy Award winner Hannah Gadsby. I was left wondering had she not performed the festival this year, if women would have been represented much at all at the 5* mark.

Here’s the rest of the publications broken down.

Telegraph

 

One4Review

List

Guardian

Fringe guru

Fest

Ed Fest Mag

Chortle

Broadway Baby

Telegraph

Why is any of this relevant? As each performer tells themselves for three weeks, ‘reviews don’t matter.’ Except they do. The comic Athena Kugblenu explained to me how she hates the review system, yet ‘I want the 4* and 5* as much as the next comic, not for the endorsement, but for the marketing and PR.’ And as Edinburgh stalwart Kate Smurthwaite explains, ‘Anything less than a 4/5 star is of no use cos you can’t put 3* on your posters.’ I spoke to one experienced reviewer who hypothesised that reviewers simply aren’t going to enough female shows. Proportional representation is all very well but because female comics are still in the minority, their work is still viewed as marginal which means reviewers are less likely to award the more prestigious star ratings. As encapsulated in the comment that Sara Pascoe’s material was ‘too tamponny’; when male comics talk about their lives it’s comedy. When female comics talk about their lives, their shows are described as focusing only on ‘women’s issues’ or pigeonholed as feminist, as if feminism was somehow a bad thing rather than just a wish for gender equality and an end to young girls having their genitals mutilated. Something one hopes we would all strive for, whatever our gender.

Although the project above focused on numbers rather than qualitative analysis, there’s no doubt that the use of language in male vs female reviews is an area ripe for research. As a little test I decided to peek at the content of the reviews of Sara Pascoe’s acclaimed show Lads Lads Lads and the 2017 Comedy Award winner John Robins’ show The Darkness of Robins. I chose these shows because I’ve seen them both, and although the content of the shows isn’t identical, they were both written on the back of their breakup in late 2016.

The reviews I looked at were from the Guardian, the Standard, the Skinny, the Scotsman and Chortle, and all awarded 4*. Of the five reviews of Pascoe’s show, she was referred to as endearing twice, vulnerable once and ‘oversharing about sex’ – presumably because she had the temerity to mention masturbation – a theme that’s rarely absent from most male standups’ staple material. Robin’s show, despite containing several depictions of sex with his ex partner and a whole bit about women’s pubic hair, did not attract any comment on the topic of sex whatsoever. Adjectives attached to Robins’ show included ‘extremely forthright’, ‘high-powered, front foot delivery’ and ‘an eloquent howl of rage’. The assertive adjectives attached to Robins’ reviews are ironic if only because in both Pascoe and Robins’ depiction of their break-up, she is undeniably the one who is taking it better.

The most telling observation, however, came from the three out of five reviewers who commented on Pascoe’s stage attire – a sparkly bodysuit and fishnets. This might be understandable were it not for the fact the John Robins went on stage every night donning a tailor-made bright yellow leather replica Freddie Mercury jacket. Not. A. Mention. [Edit – apparently John ditched the jacket after the first two previews so this isn’t an entirely fair comparison. Thanks to commenter Pete for pointing this out].

Kate Smurthwaite provides some examples of gendered reviews from her own experience.

My first Chortle review call[ed] me “too alpha female”. My second says sometime I make a political point instead of a joke which is TRUE but that’s the style of my comedy and no-one complains when Mark Steel does it. 

We also need to take into account the structural bias behind the scenes before shows even make it to the review stage. Smurthwaite claims that bias amongst venue managers means women end up with less favourable rooms and slots, and a poor slot with a barely warmed up or hungover audience, taking in their first show of the day, can have a devastating effect on reviews.

Conclusions?

Mark Twain was right when he talked about lies, damn lies, and statistics. I embarked upon this project looking for easy (or at least clear-cut) answers, and aside from the fairly unequivocal findings of the Scotsman, the results turned out to be a little more complicated.

It has certainly given me food for thought about how we can build on this information in years to come, and I hope that comics of all genders will feed in with their own experiences. I’ve set up a Facebook group for this purpose: Edinburgh Fringe Ratings.

Female (and many male) comics don’t need to wade through a 2000 word blog to know there’s gender bias in comedy. I just fancied drawing a few graphs to illustrate it, and as Stewart Lee’s apocryphal taxi driver once remarked “Well. You can prove anything with facts”.

For the full report and datasets, visit http://wp.me/p8JV3i-dU.

I welcome your comments and notification of any errors via this blog. Please bear in mind I’m an amateur unpaid blogger, so by all means tell me I’m wrong but please do so with respect. If you like this article you can help by sharing it on your social media.

Edit: Quite a few commenters are asking why I didn’t take into account the gender of the researcher. Here’s my response:

I consciously didn’t analyse the gender, ethnicity, sexuality, age or class demographic of the researchers  because i thought it was a red herring. There’s no obligation for women to support women and women are just as subject to the patriarchy as men. They’ve seen more male comics in more prestigious venues/media slots etc. They’re sitting in an audience of people who may well have the embedded beliefs that men will automatically be funny, women have to prove they will be, and god forbid they should hear a mention of ovaries. This of course impacts on the performance, audience reaction and subsequent impression left upon the reviewer. 

I do think there is space for [analysis of the reviewers], perhaps as part of a larger piece of research that looks at organisational culture. I was struck by the comments from the Scotsman that their reviewers were well established and experienced, and the Skinny that they tended to have a high turnover of younger reviewers. I think these factors surely also have a bearing as much as the researcher’s gender. 

 

 

 

 

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28 thoughts on “Fringe Reviews: Research reveals gender bias across leading publications

  1. Fascinating! And disappointing from the Scotsman

    However : John robins only wore the Freddie mercury jacket for the first two previews in Edinburgh, and after that just t shirts – as he says in his recent Richard Herring podcast with Ahir Shah, so that clothing judgement comparison with Sarah pascoe isn’t valid.

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    1. Wow! Can’t believe that, he wore it at every flippin preview I went to (and I went to a LOT). But thanks for letting me know, I’ll amend tomorrow when I get a min.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Clicked on this on a fb link and was an interesting ( alas not surprising ) study. The inequality in comedy is and always has been biased. The minute a woman dares to comment on politics, sport, or world issues she’s ushered back into the kitchen where her opinions matter lol perish the thought they might have an opinion outside of the kitchen and bedroom. It says more about the fossils and dinosaurs doing the reviewing than any act. These publications need to move with the times and the change in the comedy world. Interesting study nonetheless and maybe in an ideal world it’ll invoke changes 🤗

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I would add reviews from Scots Reviewer, fifetoday.co.uk, Edinburgh Guide, British Theatre Guide, Herald and even Daily Mail where Alan Chadwick reviewed daily. Annoyingly the latter was listed with Baz Bamigboye’s email to participants only to get a reply ‘out of office until August 27’ – too late for my press release then?

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    1. Hi John – when you say ‘like to add’ do you mean should be considered for next year? If so any particular reason? Thanks for your comment.

      Like

  4. I did a Content analysis for my MA in 2005 on what language was being used in the daily spreads to describe women and men tennis players during Wimbledon that year. Sadly, but not surprising there are similarities with this. shocking how the language issues seem the same over ten year on. I found writers wrote about female tennis players clothes, their looks and their bodily form, whilst male tennis players were described in relation to their game, strength and stamina. This is unhealthy reporting for all of us, and in this day and age sloppy. Thanks for doing this, even with limitations, this is very interesting. A more scientifically approved study next year might be something that you could then use to ask for a response from the papers in question….if you aren’t already bored of it. You could always approach someone to get the work commissioned….(Fawcett Society?)

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Thank you for doing this! It brings to mind two experiences I had at the Fringe, both personally and as a bystander:

    I was reviewed by 7 different reviewers for 6 publications. The two male reviewers gave me 4 stars where the remaining female reviewers gave 3 or in one case 2, in which my physical body was described first (tan and tone like a cheerleader, something I never allude to in my show or have done in my life) before the show itself. The 3 star reviews were fair and offered constructive feedback. But this first and lowest rated review made me feel hopeful for a male gaze because I felt overly scrutinized and personally judged in the first review by specificalkt a female gaze. My show is called Confessions of a Personal Trainer (I am one in real life).

    The other comment I want to make is in regards to a review that was disturbing to me, here is the quote, it is from The List’s and it is on Twayna Mayne’s “Black Girl”, it is a male reviewer who is practiced and respected in the field. He states:

    ” Quite rightly, Mayne criticises the comedy world for being the domain of young, white, male comedians but other than pointing this out, she doesn’t especially offer anything of substance that will result in a power shift somewhere down the line.”

    This makes me feel like the reviewer has just assigned the fate of gender bias in comedy to specifically Twayna, a woman of color, a person underrepresented in mainstream comedy. This reminds me of the sentiment that, if you are a woman in a meeting room full of men, you have to prove that you are not only good at your job but in fact better than every man in the room in order to be seen as equal.

    I acknowledge that I am offering a subjective (and biased) take on both an experience and a reaction. Still, they seem to loosely tag along with facts you’ve presented us.

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    1. Hi Katie, thanks for commenting and sharing your personal experiences, which sound quite difficult. They are really relevant and I feel sure that were I to repeat this project I’d be incorporating qualitative data such as this. Regarding the comment made about Twayma, someone raised exactly the same concern in a Facebook group where we were discussing these issues. And my reply was exactly the same as yours. Very troubling.

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  6. I’m involved in a one-woman comedy show that got 2 stars and a slut-shamey comment from Broadway Baby. Never had fewer than 4 stars before and nobody has ever commented negatively on the sexual content of the show. One of only 2 reviews we got in Edinburgh.

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  7. Hello – This is a really good article, thanks for writing it. One point, I’d noticed that Chortle did award a one star review to Arna Spek, though they are happily taking your 0/5 findings. I’ve not seen the show and don’t know Arna, but saw she did get a 4 star review elsewhere during the Fringe, and a friend tells me the Brighton version of the show was packed out, so probably 1* isn’t an accurate reflection of the show, we can probably assume.

    I would also say that because I’m the chair of the British Science Fiction Association, which produces a reviews journal, we are also subject to various gender bias analyses – the less mainstream version of VIDA. We find this incredibly useful as it has allowed us to examine approaches to critique that may restrict access to space for women and people of colour. Because we run with volunteers who pick what they read that can be problematic when it comes to avoiding bias, but we’ve seen how some US publications have been doing much better and if they can, why can’t we? We’ve had to raise our game… and sometimes I look at us and think, yay for literature. Why can’t comedy do this?

    Whilst there are so many publishing spaces out there, it can be difficult to ascertain the size of the market we have to cover. We can only review what we get sent to review. It might be easier with the Fringe, as the catalogue – vast though it is – would be everything, all in one place. That way, we can say, there are 100 shows, 35 fronted by women, 65 by men, so our stats must reflect this proportion when it comes to shows actually covered. What do you think?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Donna, I’m not 100% sure of what you mean? The control data showed that the gender spilt of comics reviewed was 69/31% M/F and then I broke down each publication’s gender split to see if they were awarding stars above or below the average. So in this regard, the Fringe is a finite market.

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      1. Hi Jay Jay… I meant, can we tell whether the gender split of shows selected for review by the various publications reflects the actual gender split of available shows for review. I would say it is a bit of work, but an analyst probably just needs to go through the Edinburgh Fringe Show catalogue for anything listed under Comedy and do a tally. What we found in the science-fiction magazine review business was that there was actually a problem with numbers of women authors reviewed not reflecting the actual market. There was a perception that there were fewer women out there than there were, which may have been due to selections made for review by the reviewers themselves, or what PR publishers gave to those books by making review copies available (more likely the former). Regardless of quality of product, nothing can change unless proportionate space is given to female authors (in bookshops, in review spaces in magazines) to reflect the actual market. And this is books. We have been agreeing for ages that writing is a thing women can do, right? anyway, you might find this useful: https://www.theguardian.com/books/booksblog/2016/may/12/sci-fi-media-coverage-dominated-by-men-survey-shows

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  8. Thanks for this – really interesting. I came up to the fringe for the first time this year with a solo theatre show as part of the free fringe. The show was very well received by audiences, though on average I got around £1.50 for each audience member. It made me wonder whether audiences give less to women, as my male friends told me this was low considering people liked it. Of course it could have been to do with my bucket speech – I was initially timid about asking for money, which in turn has to do with how I was brought up and not unconnected to being female. BTW, I got a 4 star review from The Scotsman and a 3 star review from Broadway Baby. I would be fascinated to see this research applied to theatre – I definitely get the feeling people are more accustomed to seeing men take on a solo show and feel they have the capabilities. My shows involve lots of sound that I have prerecorded and to make it simple for the technician, only 5 sound cues. I find that when I have a male technician people will compliment him more for it – assuming, wrongly, that he has orchestrated this. When my technician is female, I get the credit! Did you see Wild Bore? They talk about this unconscious bias – reviewers assuming the women didn’t know what they were doing. Thanks for taking the time to do this.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. This is a first class piece of work with a clear methodology and excellent analysis. Interesting that this echoes something which Vicky Featherstone raised after reviews of Zinnie Harris’s play ‘How to Hold Your Breath’ at the Royal Court. https://www.thestage.co.uk/news/2015/vicky-featherstone-critics-are-harder-on-women/ Clearly there is more research to be done but this has opened up a very important line of enquiry.

    On a slightly different area, the issue of gender bias or the lack of gender balance in creative roles in theatre is something which I and others have been raising for sometime. Like this piece of work, we did research voluntarily without having a huge background in quantitive analysis (I too learnt a lot about Excel!). Here is a link if you are interested http://christinehamiltonconsulting.com/women-in-theatre/

    Where our report and this one find similar conclusions is in the failure of publicly funded organisations to collect data – in this case the Fringe which receives funding from Creative Scotland and the Scottish Government. This is an issue which has been raised with Creative Scotland on many occasions and I sport a bruise on my forehead from banging my head.

    Anyway, well done and all power to you!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Christine, thanks so much for taking the time to comment. I read your report and enjoyed it as well as seeing many similarities between our predicaments. It’s certainly given me food for thought on where to go next. Thanks again, and good luck!

      Like

  10. Superb piece of data collection with the suspected/sad result. How about the gender of the reviewer themselves? That would be another interesting factor, if there’s any apparent bias in the scores they give the same and opposite gender.

    Like

  11. On 5 Sep 2017, at 13:26, Jay Jay wrote:

    -Hi Robert-

    -Thanks for taking the time to read my piece and write back. I’ll reply in the text for ease.-

    On 4 Sep 2017, at 21:11, Robert Peacock wrote:

    Hello Howl Sanctuary,

    Thorough work on your stats tables. I know how long these things take!

    But before “clear evidence of bias” goes next to our name permanently, I thought I’d supply the full data set, average ratings, and more context on who we are.

    Here’s the complete data on all our comedy reviews. For these purposes I’ve included everything that’s comedy or comedy cabaret, but ruled out comedy theatre and things that weren’t really comedy (e.g. I saw Emotional Terrorism (female, 3*), but I wasn’t the only reviewer who thought it had been miscategorised)

    Men
    5* – 14
    4* – 36
    3* – 32
    2* – 11
    1* – 2
    Average – 3.52

    Women
    5* – 3
    4* – 25
    3* – 20
    2* – 5
    1* – 0
    Average – 3.49

    (excludes mixed acts and drag acts)

    – It’s clear from this and your other comments that we’re working with different datasets. I’m a comedy blogger and only included people in the comedy category, no theatre or anything else. Straight up either stand up or small sketch troupe.-

    Really, this needs proper significance testing doing on it to prove/disprove bias. I don’t have the time, but you’re welcome to.

    – I think it’s telling if you’re willing to write to me to tell me my findings are wrong, but don’t feel it’s an issue worthy of you spending the time to analyse yourself. If you think I’m wrong, provide the (equivalent) data to disprove me, but don’t tell me to spend hours disproving my own analysis on your behalf!-

    I actually looked into the five stars to see if there was one reviewer being overgenerous, but no-one had given more than two 5 stars to male comedians.
    I’ll be doing a full breakdown of average rating by reviewer at some point. I do it every year. If that throws anything up, I can let you know.

    -My research didn’t focus on specific reviewers so those findings, whilst maybe of general interest, wouldn’t be relevant to this piece of work.-

    To explain a bit about who we are/how we work:

    There’s 91 writers on our writers’ list. Gender breakdown: 41 male (46%), 50 female (54%), although that’s not reflected in our Fringe reviewing for reasons I’ll explain.

    Writers pick their own shows to review, BUT ONLY after they’ve done a set number of “Editor’s Picks”, i.e. they’ve done some shows we’ve asked them to do.

    There were 100 shows on our Editors Picks’ for Comedy. Taking out the 8 mixed acts, the breakdown was:

    54 male (59%), 38 female (41%)

    You’ll see this is less male dominated than comedy reviews in general. Kevin, our comedy editor, is very alert to this and will have factored that into his selections. I don’t want to get all “some of our favourite comedians are female” on you, but he’s championed a lot of female comics since he’s been with us (first 5* review for the Kagools, first reviews for Flo & Joan and Marjolein Robertson). There’s no “women aren’t funny” here. As with the Skinny, they wouldn’t be with us if they took that attitude.

    Now, as you know, we ended up reviewing a higher proportion of men than that. I suspect the reason for this is that once everyone had done their requisite Editors’ Picks, they went for familiar territory. For some of our male writers, this may have been male stand-up comics. (Although, I note that even then we reviewed a larger proportion of female comics than other publications).

    – And this is how we finish up with institutionalised sexism. I’d say it’s your job as an editor to work to prevent this.-

    The same is true on the other side of the gender divide of course – some of our female writers tend towards female-led theatre and cabaret. If you look at our entire coverage, you’ll see five stars from female writers for Camille O’Sullivan, Queens of the Blues, Jemima Foxtrot et.al.

    -Since my research focused on comedy, female reviewers seeing female led theatre and cabaret won’t have shown up in my data. Hence your stats.-

    My stance is to recognise we’re never going to stamp out personal preference entirely. I want people to try something different (hence the editors’ picks) but I also want people to review things they feel qualified to review (hence allowing them some free picks). If that’s a woman reviewing a feminist theatre piece or a man reviewing a male comic, so be it. As long as they can critique well and justify their opinions, there’s no overt prejudice or agenda, and we have a range of different voices on the site, I’m content.

    This year unfortunately many of our long-standing female writers couldn’t do the Fringe. Also, it just so happened that our male writers were most available to review (work wise or should I say, lack of work wise). So there may have been a more male voice on the site than normal. However, I’m quite satisfied with how we operate in general. Of course, you are free to disagree!

    I will say a few things though:
    I don’t know why we’ve been given so much prominence, especially ahead of the more glaring Scotsman example, and especially as our averages for men and women are very similar.

    -This is a fair point, I picked up on your five star rating split because it was a clear illustration of bias and how I was analysing the data. I can see how you saw that as highlighting you as ‘worse’ than the Scotsman and that wasn’t my intention. I think that I do make it clear with my analysis of the Scotsman that they are biased across the board. –

    “More comfortable with female performers inhabiting the uncontentious 3/4*…” is kind of a weird conclusion. I don’t know any reviewers who would box things up and limit their ratings in this way.

    -That’s a theme that came out from a lot of the publications. Reviewers seem, for whatever reason, to be reluctant to give women 5* or 1*s. Certainly your reviewers were not keen to give the highest accolade to women and unless we’re going to conclude that women aren’t as funny as men, there must be a reason for this.-

    I wish you’d spoken to us first, like you did The Skinny and The Scotsman.

    -Fair comment, and I apologise.-

    To paraphrase you: please bear in mind we are amateur unpaid bloggers, so by all means tell us we’re biased but please do so with respect! 😉

    -I wasn’t aware of that, so thanks for letting me know.-

    -In conclusion if you’d like copy any of this conversation or to make any further comments please post them on the blog piece and I’ll approve.-

    -Many thanks again for your response.-

    -Jay-

    Robert

    Robert Peacock
    Managing Editor
    The Wee Review
    0781 481 3026
    http://theweereview.com
    @theweereview

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