What would you think if I told you that in 2010 magazines like Harper’s, The New Republic, Poetry Magazine, Granta, The New Yorker, and most of the other big names, published more work written by men than by women?
Would it shock you? Surprise you? Raise an eyebrow?
What if I told you that those magazines didn’t publish just three or four more articles by men than by women, they published three or four times more. It calculates like this:
- The Atlantic published 154 pieces written by men, 53 by women.
- The New Yorker: 449 by men, 163 by women.
- The New York Review of Books: 462 by men, 79 by women.
That raises more than eyebrows, it raises questions and VIDA is doing the asking.
VIDA, a literary group formed last year in response to gender inequality in print, has just published The Count. I might have called it “The Countess,” but that’s probably too cutesy. The Count is literally that, a count of male to female writers in the country’s most prestigious magazines, and it is proof positive of just how skewed the ratio is.
As a woman writer, the survey could be depressing. I could throw up my hands and say, “Why bother, there’s no breaking into the old-boy’s club.” If it was just a survey, it would be depressing, but it’s not just a survey, it’s the beginning of a conversation and VIDA is leading the way.
“Our count is by no means a blame-game,” says Cate Marvin, VIDA co-founder. “It was time to stop speculating that things didn’t seem entirely fair and find out if we did in fact have reason to be concerned. The conversation only begins with the numbers.”
More data on submissions and books published by gender is needed for a true picture, but what is included in “The Count” makes it clear that there is a startling imbalance and something needs to be done. Yes, the conversation has started. As a woman who writes, it’s now my responsibility to be a part of it.
For more details, read the study by VIDA: “Numbers don’t lie. What counts is the bottom line.”
For an analysis of the numbers, read A new tally by VIDA shows how few female writers appear in magazines from slate.com.