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“Histoires d’Autrices”: making women writers more visible
Discover French women writers from the past or present, whether classic or little-known, with the website “Histoires d’Autrices” (Telling the Stories of Women Writers). Their objective is two-fold: to increase the visibility of these authors and question why they are underrepresented.
What place do women authors occupy in school curricula and publishing catalogues, whether studied, performed, read, honoured or published?
What visibility is awarded to them in the fields of research, education, media or commercial exposure?
In response to these questions, the Histoires d’Autrices website offers a collection of data sets (20 at this point) on the female authors found in different types of literary documents: school textbooks, exam papers, programs for the French teachers’ exam, collections of publishing houses, etc. Each features statistics showing the proportion of women authors compared to their male counterparts, as well as how this changes over time, and links to detailed information about the authors in question and their works. The data can also be consulted via an interactive map, that shows the places of birth and death for different authors cited.
Multiple association and university initiatives contributed to creating the Histoires d’Autrices website. It started with the birth of the association “Le Deuxième Texte”, following the prize received at the first #GenderEquality hackathon organized by the Ministry of Women’s Rights in 2017. The association’s aim is to showcase women authors in French-speaking female cultural heritage or “matrimoine”.
Shared on an eponymous web platform, the data collected for this project was enriched by Laura Borie and Mallory Thiébaud during internships undertaken as part of the VisiAutrices research project (2017-2019). Starting from the observation that women authors are studied less than men, the aim of collecting this data was to precisely measure the gap in visibility, before trying to explain it.
The data was initially presented on data.gouv.fr, then added to a site developed by two IUT de Marne-La-Vallée students, Thi Van Truong followed by Léonard Kim, during internships supervised by Philippe Gambette, Associate Professor in Computer Science at Université Gustave Eiffel. Histoires d’Autrices is the finalised version of this site, created as part of the 2019-2022 research project Cité des Dames, créatrices dans la cité2 (City of Ladies, Women Creators in the City).
The website was presented in July 2022 at the round table “Toutes en scène ! Édifier notre matrimoine dans le spectacle vivant” (All Women on Stage! Building our Female Heritage in the Performing Arts) at the Festival d’Avignon. Now, it is accessible to all: researchers, teachers, students, publishers, artists, activists, and those who are simply curious. New data sets will continue to be added, which will create a virtuous circle that is already taking form. Increasing the visibility of women authors shows us how far we have to go to reach parity.
Matrimoine: French term based on the word “patrimoine” or heritage. Matrimoine refers to cultural heritage produced by women and particularly women creators.
Hackathon: Event in which experts collaborate over several days on a computer programming or digital creation project.
1 “Visibilité des femmes de lettres dans l'enseignement du secondaire et du supérieur” (Visibility of women writers in secondary and higher education). Interdisciplinary research project supported from September 2017 to May 2019 by PEPS funding from CNRS and RNMSH.
2 “Impulsion” project supported by I-Site FUTURE, aimed at contributing to the awareness and recognition of the role of women in building urban heritage.
Interview performed by the Kogito agency.
Identity card of software and dataset
|Histoires d’autrices. À la découverte des femmes de lettres étudiées, jouées, lues, primées ou publiées en France, code available online at citedesdames.github.io/histoires-autrices/, 2018-2022.
|Histoires d’autrices. À la découverte des femmes de lettres étudiées, jouées, lues, primées ou publiées en France, data available online at citedesdames.github.io/histoires-autrices/, 2018-2022.
|Philippe Gambette, Associate professor in Computer Science at Université Gustave Eiffel
|literature, women authors, female heritage