Was 2013 a good year for female writers? Well, it depends. If you're looking at the big literary magazines -- The Atlantic, Harper's, The New York Review of Books, The New Republic -- it was terrible. So says VIDA, a group that painstakingly tallies the gender disparity in major literary publications and book reviews.
Image Credit: VIDA
In the 2013 VIDA Count, organizers use the fancy literary term "Dudeville" to describe the biggies:
But oh, New Republic has managed its worst year yet since we began counting! Perhaps they are striving to up the ante for the shock value vote. I say, passé. They continue playing the same old hand, this year at a slower speed. Perhaps they think they’re sticking it to us when readers throw our pies in their faces?
Same old lie by omission for the Times Literary Supplement. Now that their readers’ demographic is steadily changing, with whites predicted to be a minority by 2042, will the Times white male roster also go the way of the dodo?
And I’ll just call this corner of the globe “Dudeville,” which is far more polite than what Urban Dictionary would dub any closed circle of men enjoying their “creative privileges.” Drumroll for the 75%ers: The Atlantic, London Review of Books, New Republic, The Nation, New York Review of Books (actually holding steady at 80% men for four years) and The New Yorker. We get it: you’re mighty, unmovable giants.
It's not like women haven't been trying to get their work published in major journals. Some, like the the Paris Review and the New York Times Book Review, show that women have gotten a significantly larger slice of the pie since 2012. This is great news. However, for many female writers, the dream of being published is more likely to happen through a lesser-known publication. This year, VIDA isn't waiting for the establishment to open its doors to female writers. The real disruption is taking place in the smaller publications. So this year, VIDA added 25 smaller literary magazines to its results, to show that women are getting published.
To see which publications are doing the best job at featuring women and to find out how you can voice your opinion, read the full VIDA Count 2013.
For more perspective on the state of the industry for women of color writers, read Aimee Phan's piece Why Mainstream Critics Fail Writers of Color at Talking Writing.
And for more statistics on the gender balance in the media at large, including a study about the representation of black women, visit the Women's Media Center's Status of Women in the U.S. Media 2014 report.
News and Politics Editor Grace Hwang Lynch blogs about raising an Asian mixed-race family at HapaMama.
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