In alignment with their longstanding commitment to women’s voices and leadership, InterVarsity Press will launch the #ReadWomen campaign, officially beginning May 1, 2018.
This campaign takes after the #ReadWomen2014 campaign, which began when Joanna Walsh, a writer and illustrator, created bookmark-shaped New Year’s cards featuring her favorite writers, declaring 2014 "the year of reading women." Walsh was quickly flooded with requests for the cards, and a social media movement took off.
"The very notion that 'men don't read books written by women' has always struck me as odd (at best) and alarming (at worst) because of my own reading experience," Jeff Crosby, IVP’s publisher, said. "Whether classic works of spirituality by Teresa of Avila and Julian of Norwich, bestselling books by Maya Angelou and Krista Tippett, or current work by writers such as Marilyn Chandler McEntyre and Isabel Wilkerson, my intellectual, spiritual, and cultural perspectives have been deeply shaped by women writers and the unique gifts they bring. I believe it's essential to not only read widely and deeply, but to ensure we are engaging with content from men and women and people of diverse backgrounds. I genuinely believe that those who do not make that commitment are in some sense impoverished, whether they know it or not. I’m grateful to be a part of a publishing house that seeks out, elevates, and publishes books by women of insight, candor, and persuasion."
Senior editor Al Hsu added: "My PhD research on emerging adults’ book-reading experiences found that women read fairly evenly between male and female authors (54% / 46%), but that men read 90% male authors and only 10% female authors. That’s why the #ReadWomen campaign is needed, to highlight how we all benefit from reading women’s voices and hearing perspectives from the whole body of Christ."
IVP’s campaign will draw attention to its own catalog of women authors, both current and backlist, through a social media campaign using the hashtag #ReadWomen, through the distribution of posters and materials at trade shows like Book Expo America and the American Library Association, as well as by offering discounts on books by women through their website.
IVP has been intentional about publishing women's voices since the creation of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship's (IVCF) publishing program. It started in 1943, with an inductive Bible study written by Jane Hollingsworth titled Discovering the Gospel of Mark. In the 75 years since then, IVP has published a range of voices on many topics, from names such as Suzanne Stabile, Brenda Salter McNeil, Kathy Khang, Ruth Haley Barton, Natasha Sistrunk Robinson, Sharon Garlough Brown, Sarah Shin, Sandra Van Opstal, Luci Shaw, and hundreds of others. Additionally, IVP's editorial acquisitions team has annual goals to make sure it is publishing women's voices across all lines.
"In this age of #MeToo and #ChurchToo, women are making it clear that they will no longer tolerate being silenced, harassed, or oppressed," said Helen Lee, director of marketing. "I am so glad that we are part of a larger organization that has valued women's voices, gifts, and leadership skills throughout our history, and that those values apply to our publishing program as well. We are constantly on the lookout for ways to elevate women's expertise and experiences as authors of books that speak to the whole church, and this will never cease."
IVP has launched a webpage dedicated to these efforts that can be found at ivpress.com/readwomen. Women authors were interviewed as a part of this campaign, and they answered questions about why they've published with IVP and why IVP continues to be a house committed to the publication of women’s voices.
"I knew that IVP was a publishing house that not only honored and elevated women, but also honored and elevated people of color," said Kathy Khang, author of Raise Your Voice (July 2018). "And so as a woman of color I felt that I could trust IVP to not only honor me as an author but to honor my words."
Jen Pollock Michel, author of Teach Us to Want, added: "I feel incredibly proud to be a part of a press that is so thoughtful, that has a reputation for producing resources that are thoughtful and serious and deep and substantive and can be of real help to the church."
IVP hopes that women authors at IVP and elsewhere will be elevated through this celebration, and through that the broader church and culture might overcome their unconscious omission of women as experts and leaders.
"#ReadWomen is a celebration of women," said Lorraine Caulton, director of Creative and Customer Engagement at IVP. "Women are strong, talented, intelligent, and persevering. They are experts in their fields. We want to elevate women and get people reading books by them. Long after hashtags have faded away, IVP will remain committed to publishing and reading books by women."
Read more at ivpress.com/readwomen and follow along on social media using the hashtag #ReadWomen.