Stella drives significant cultural change by elevating the work of Australian women and non-binary writers. We promote greater access to, and participation in, the world of books and writing to combat gender bias in society.
Traditional binaries around gender continue to be challenged, both politically and socially. We recognise that what it means to be a woman is not static and do not believe gender identity is reducible to the body. Stella advocates for a nuanced conversation around gender inequality, recognising that language and power are intrinsically linked. We believe that rigid gender norms and terms reinforce inequality and limit us all, as individuals and a community.
Across our programs and initiatives, we work with writers and readers to question gender disparities, challenge stereotypes, and support women.
Regarding our flagship program, the annual Stella Prize, entry is open to authors who identify with its purpose to promote Australian women’s writing in ways that align with their own gender identity. This includes cis women, trans women, and non-binary people. We interpret an author’s entry to the Prize as confirmation of their alignment with the Prize’s aims and do not require any validation regarding an author’s gender beyond their self-identification.
In our schools and education initiatives, Stella delivers programs that are open to all, including girls, boys, non-binary, and gender diverse teens. We have been inspired and challenged by the young people who have shared with us their experience of what it means to feel limited by gender and understanding of how language can be used to liberate and empower.
Stella aims to incorporate a range of gender identities in our research and advocacy work. In the annual Stella Count, we identify authors’ genders based on published information available at the time, both within authors’ own work and the related media coverage. Stella has focused on greater recognition of non-binary authors in the data analysis since 2019. In the published reports, data is anonymised and aggregated to ensure that individuals cannot be identified. However, if an author believes they have been incorrectly included in a particular gender category Stella welcomes this being brought to our attention and will make every effort to correct the data.
While Stella is proud of its foundations in the women’s movement, we recognise that contemporary conversations around gender identity and inequality are complex and evolving. We do not want to invalidate gender diverse identities by assuming all experiences of gender inequality to be the same over time. Stella is grateful to the many individuals and organisations that have contributed to our ongoing understanding of gender; we have compiled a set of resources that have been influential in our thinking. We welcome the feedback of our community and invite you to join this ongoing conversation.
Resources on Gender
Gender Diversity ‘Key Terms’ – Victorian State Government
Understanding Non-Binary People: How to Be Respectful and Supportive – National Centre for Transgender Equality
‘My gender didn’t exist in fiction when I was growing up — so I wrote myself into existence’ – Alison Evans, The Guardian
One Plus One: Nevo Zisin – ABC
Women and Non-Binary Writers Closed Forum Statement – Emerging Writers Festival
AA Mini Gender Primer in Celebration of Non-Binary Day – Megan D’Alessio
9 Things People Get Wrong About Being Non-Binary – Teen Vogue
An Intro to Sexuality and Gender – Minus 18