Tuesday, March 5, 2013

That Time of the Monthly: Literary Mags Lag in Hiring Female Writers

The New Yorker
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The Huffington Post today reported on an annual survey by the four-year-old VIDA (Women in Literary Arts) Web site that found bylines by women writers in literary journals last year scarce compared to their male counterparts.

VIDA, whose self-described mission is "to explore critical and cultural perceptions of writing by women through meaningful conversation and the exchange of ideas among existing and emerging literary communities," found lofty publications, including the London Review of Books, New York Review of Books, Harper's Magazine and The New Yorker, by a wide margin, published more articles featuring male bylines than female bylines. Harper's, for example, published 17 pieces by women, compared to 76 articles by men, while The New Yorker breakdown in 2012 was 160 female to 445 male.

VIDA  said the latest survey results showing gender disparity in literary magazines were consistent with previous years' findings. "TUOL" is leery of very unscientific statistics. The survey, for example, doesn't offer numbers on the gender make-up of the editorial staff of the various publications surveyed, a breakdown of their readership by sex, the number of total article submissions by each gender to the magazines versus the percentage published, among other salient facts. For that matter, there is nothing about the methodology that reveals how much background research went into determining the gender of published authors (e.g., "Leslie" a guy or a gal, "Sam" short for Samantha?, etc.).

Diversity--gender, racial, ethnic, age-- on the masthead and among the stable of writers is a good thing, but "TUOL" suspects the literary journals, like all periodicals nowadays, are more concerned about declining circulation among male and female readers, alike.
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