Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Women in Translation (WIT) project?


Women in Translation is the name of an encompassing project that’s existed since late 2013, with the goal of promoting women writers from around the world writing in languages other than English (whether they have been translated into English specifically or not). The project also promotes works by underrepresented trans and nonbinary writers, unless they otherwise ask not to be included in the gendered project.




What is #WITMonth?


“WITMonth” is "Women in Translation Month", taking place every August since 2014.




Does WIT mean you focus on women translators too?


No, not necessarily. While translator voices and experiences also bring a lot to the table and are hugely important as a separate conversation, the main issue at hand is that women writers are strongly underrepresented in translations to English (and into other languages as well). WITMonth's original intent and continued directive is to focus on women writers from across the globe and in as many different languages as possible (not just English).




Why do we even need this?


Research based on both the Three Percent database and other sources shows that women writers account for just around 30% of new releases of fiction and poetry titles in translation in the US per year. However, the actual rate of women in translation is even lower, once academic nonfiction translations and re-translations of classic works are taken into account. Given how few books are translated into English in the first place, this leaves English-language readers out in the cold when it comes to an extraordinary wealth of women writers from around the world. Similar studies and anecdotal evidence show a similar trend across different languages as well.




I don't look at an author's gender when I choose a book, nor what language it was written in or the author's race. Why does it even matter?


Our backgrounds, experiences, and cultural contexts shape art in tremendous ways. Even things like the choices we make in terms of writing a story for an audience within a certain culture or for one outside of it fundamentally changes what that story is. Writers from different backgrounds and experiences from our own (and our own are all very different!) are ultimately both windows and mirrors, not necessarily "teaching" lessons but still enabling us to experience the world through someone else's eyes.




Is WITMonth trans-inclusive?


Yes, while respectfully acknowledging that some authors may not wish to be included in the project at large.




Can I read WIT in other languages?


Yes. While this site and the associated social media accounts are specifically geared for an English-language audience, WITMonth and the Women in Translation project more broadly are both wholly international efforts (and indeed grew out bilingual reading). The purpose is to promote women writing in languages other than English. This can mean you can talk about a book by a woman writing in your native Lithuanian or Igbo or Nepali, or any translation from a French writer into one of those languages, and so on.




Do English-language women writers translated into other languages count?


These are not part of the focus of this effort. English-language writers - men, but also women - dominate the international literary conversation, particularly for smaller countries/languages, while women writers from other languages are all but invisible. Translations from English don't really need that extra help or attention beyond general and wonderful movements like Read Women. WITMonth specifically remains focused on all other languages.




How can I get involved in WITMonth?


WITMonth is a collaborative, community-based event. Anyone can take part simply by engaging with the question of women in translation, as well as through reading, reviewing, and promoting works by women writers in translation. Bookstores, libraries, and book clubs are more than encouraged to use the resources available here to host WITMonth events or prepare displays.




Isn't WIT basically reverse sexism?


No.