The Women’s Podcast: Sexism in Publishing, Culture Night and Sex Apps

Writer created male alter ego to find an agent, talks about what happened next

New York-based writer Catherine Nichols sent her new novel to literary agents under a man’s name and received over eight times the number of responses than she had under her own name.

Nichols created “George”, a male alter ego after having trouble finding an agent for her latest novel.

“The response was much more positive. There were 17 manuscript requests for George and two for Catherine, so that’s eight and a half times more,” Nichols told Kathy Sheridan, presenter of The Women’s Podcast.

The feedback “George” received from agents was also different.


“For Catherine, the critiques were about the style of prose and whether the characters were likeable. For George, the comments were about the complexity of the plot or the cleverness of how the structure worked,” she said. Also on The Women’s Podcast three women who are trying to create change in the Irish publishing world discuss the story and its implications.

Journalist Sinead Gleeson edited The Long Gaze Back, the new anthology of Irish women's writing out this month. It is the first such anthology in 15 years. Writer Claire Hennessy is one of three women editing Banshee, a new literary journal.

And Sarah Davis-Goff of Tramp Press talks about being among the only female publishers in Ireland. Its new anthology was published this month.

“We think we’re adding a viewpoint that’s maybe slightly lacking and has been lacking in the last 30 years in publishing in Ireland,” she said.

Later in the episode, Irish Times journalist Laura Slattery speaks to Roisin Agnew of Guts Magazine about sex apps that do everything from charting sexual performance to preventing revenge porn.

The Women’s Podcast attended The Irish Times Downstairs Dublin event on Culture Night. “Ten Times Women” was an exploration of the treasure trove of women’s writing in the paper over the past several decades.

Highlights from the event feature in this week’s episode, including Nell McCafferty’s pithy analysis of men’s fashion and a classic article from Maeve Binchy.

Listeners are invited to answer our question of the week. If you were starting college now, what advice would you give yourself?

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The Women's Podcast is a weekly podcast presented by Kathy Sheridan, produced by Róisín Ingle and researched by Erin McGuire.

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