Women Only Writing Competitions

Where are all the male writers hiding?Women only writing competitions

The writers’ events I’ve been to recently seem to be dominated by the fairer sex. At the Martin Davies Novel Writing Day there were around a dozen participants but only one of them was male. At the writers group I attend, women outnumber men by nearly 3 to 1 and in the Birmingham Chapter of the Romantic Novelists Association we have just one man (but maybe that is to be expected!).

And judging by the email addresses of the subscribers to this blog, 95 % of them are women and most of the comments left are from ladies too.

I pointed out this imbalance in the sexes to my husband and he suggested that maybe all the male writers are actually writing and producing best-sellers, rather than sitting around talking about writing or surfing the blogosphere.

He could have a point. We women get caught up in the social aspects of writing whereas our male counterparts actually knuckle down and get on with it.

So as we seem to be all girls together, here are some suggestions for women only competitions to get you inspired and writing:

  • The Glass Woman is a fiction competition for stories of between 50 and 5,000 words. The theme is open but the subject must be of significance to women. No entry fee and the closing date is March 21st. First prize is $500 plus there are runners-up prizes. Previous winning entries plus full details are here.
  • The Baptist Times are running a women’s writing competition for non-fiction. There are 3 categories each with a prize of £100; Spirituality, Cultural Comment and Faith & Life. The judges are looking for writing that’s stylish, insightful and powerful. No entry fee, word limit is 1,000 and closing date is 4th April. Full details here.  
  • The Grey Hen Poetry competition is open only to women over 60. Closing date is 30th April 2011, £3 entry fee and £100 first prize. Full details here.

If you’re already a published novelist then there’s always the Orange Prize for Fiction.

Oh, and if you’re a man reading this – please leave a comment and make yourself known (or use the box on the right to sign-up to receive my blog posts by email – that way you’ll never miss one!)


  1. #1 by Vic on February 24, 2011 - 12:08 pm

    Hi Ladies,

    I’m male (Or at least I was the last time I looked) – my passion just like yours is writing. Fiction and short stories mainly, but I have written some factual works too.

    All the best to you all.

    • #2 by Sally Jenkins on February 24, 2011 - 12:39 pm

      Thanks for making yourself known, Vic. Good to have you with us!

  2. #3 by Mo James on February 24, 2011 - 1:16 pm

    Hi Sally.

    Just wanted to say how much I enjoy reading your blog.

    With regards the latest post, I have to say, I’ve never really given much thought to the gender of writers! When I think back to the books I read when I was younger they were generally by male authors, but I think that may have been because I was more for the horror genre so my books of choice were penned by the likes of James Herbert and Stephen King.

    Perhaps I shall take more notice of the names/photos on the books I select, for a while at least, and see if I can find a man!

    MoJo x

    • #4 by Sally Jenkins on February 24, 2011 - 2:10 pm

      Mo – thanks for your kind words about the blog. There are lots of books around written by men but maybe they don’t feel the need to make contact with others in the same way that women do? Instead they just get on with writing and that’s why they don’t appear in great numbers at writing groups etc.

  3. #5 by Helen Yendall on February 24, 2011 - 3:54 pm

    Sally, I had to smile at your husband’s comments! Very practical and to the point (and very like a man – bless him!). But he’s probably right! I think we women like to chat and ‘touch base’ with each other much more – it seems to be a ‘need’ we have. Maybe it goes back to the Stone Age when the men were out hunting and we women were all ‘housekeeping’ back in the caves – and had to get on with each other!!

  4. #6 by pdavidflynn on June 30, 2019 - 11:28 am

    I’d love to find a list of men only writing competitions. Even Google can’t seem to produce one. In fact, not a single one. Try searching for ‘men only writing competitions’ and your first result is ‘women only writing competitions’…(hence my appearance here)…but it’s as if Google thought I’d missed off the ‘wo’ in my search term. I’m not knocking women writers – not at all. And I can’t blame the competitions because, as your figures show, Sally, 95% of your writers are women, so it makes sense to go for that market, especially when offering entry fee competitions. I just think that as male writers we have as much to say on the condition of our gender in today’s world as women. I have read that the imbalance comes from the fact that most writers are women, but most people in the publishing industry are men (particularly execs). But if you look at the number of author’s agents or publishing employees – they’re mostly women. Again, not knocking this at all.

    It’s not as if I want to write a female-bashing piece about how a woman can’t park a Bugatti at the dog track, or my masculine distate about her penchant for cut-glass, filigree whatsits with a matching Jacquard thingamibob. I may even want to write about my wife’s hyperemesis gravidarum from the man’s point of view. Yes, I could write this anywhere, but to write it where the audience and fellow contributors are male, would be useful in terms of showing other males that we are not just ‘providers’, ‘mechanics’ and ‘protectors’, but we’re also those who provide succour, become good examples of masculinity to our sons and daughters, and discover within ourselves the capacity for empathy, humility and compromise – without it being perceived as weak, effeminate or ‘not a man’s place’. I’m sure that such a lot of the mental health issues of our youth today stem from the imbalanced messages forced upon them in the media, rather than the examples heard, read and experienced for themselves. We need to be able to filter more images of strong males being strong males together without it being at the expense of women. We’ve been sold The Great Sex War for years, when all we ever really wanted was The Great Sex Peace Treaty.

    Oh, well; back to Google I go…

    • #7 by Sally Jenkins on June 30, 2019 - 6:18 pm

      David – thanks so much for leaving such a well thought out comment. This blog post is from 2011, it’s now 2019 and I’ve still not come across a ‘men only’ writing competition. And I do agree with much of what you say. It would be brilliant to get the ‘Great Sex Peace Treaty’, especially since gender seems to becoming ‘fluid’ these days. Best wishes for finding an appropriate market & audience for your writing.

  5. #8 by geraldhornsby on July 17, 2019 - 8:52 am

    Like pdavidflynn above, I got here through a Google search for “male only writing competition”.
    I understand the historical point about women being under-represented in publishing.
    But …
    I’ve just quickly looked at the Amazon bestseller lists:
    Looking at Amazon bestsellers
    * 13 of top 20 books (all – fiction and non-fiction) are written by women
    * The top 6 in fiction are written by women
    * 17 of top 20 in fiction are written by women
    If anything, we need men-only competitions to encourage more male authors!

    • #9 by Sally Jenkins on July 17, 2019 - 5:20 pm

      From my own experience in the writing world, I meet far more female writers than male. So, Gerald, there probably is a case for ‘men only’ competitions.
      Recently (2019 rather than 2011 when this post was published), I’ve noticed several competitions/calls for submissions for minority groups such as BAME and LGBT. S maybe now the focus is switching from encouraging women to encouraging other members of society.

  6. #10 by Robin M Healey on December 11, 2019 - 3:26 pm

    How is it that Lucy Cavendish College in Cambridge can get away with advertising a literary com petition in which seemingly only women can take part and which is judged only by women ?Surely this is an example of sexual discrimination. If it isn’t then please explain why it isn’t.

    • #11 by Sally Jenkins on December 12, 2019 - 4:11 pm

      I can’t speak for any particular competition, Robin, but I agree it does sound discriminatory. However, it is no different to those writing opportunities that are restricted to particular age groups, writers of particular ethnic backgrounds, social backgrounds or geographical locations.

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