Saturday, March 3, 2012

Women writers are still vastly underrepresented

Via Tiny Cat Pants

Vida, an online magazine dedicated to women in literature, released its report on the lack of parity in political and literary magazines. Not shockingly, men still make up the majority of bylines. Alyssa Rosenberg's post breaks the numbers down:
Of articles published by The Atlantic in 2011, 64 were by women and 184 were by men. In the Boston Review, the ratio was 60 to 131; in Harper’s, 13 to 65; in the London Review of Books 30 to 186; in The New Republic, 50 to 118; in the New York Review of Books a truly embarrassing 19 to 133; the New Yorker published 165 stories by women to 459 by men; and the New York Times Book Review printed 273 articles by women to 520 by men. The Nation, ostensibly a progressive publication, published 118 articles by women and 293 by men. Granta’s the only publication that’s close to parity—in fact, it published slightly more pieces by women than by men, 34 to 30. Perhaps some of these other publications should ask how Granta finds women, a task that appears so phenomenally daunting to the rest of the publishing world that it suggests that women, rather than man, are the most dangerous game.
You think by now magazines would get the memo that, hey, they women are vastly underrepresented, especially given that these are largely literary magazines and women actually outread men.  It's also important to note, as Jennifer Weiner does here, that men overwhelmingly fill editors positions, too, and change isn't likely to happen unless it happens from the top down.

But even before that can happen, women's writing needs to be seen as worthwhile and important. Look at how easily books written by women, about women's lives, as easily dismissed as "chick lit," while someone like Jonathan Franzen can stay close to home and hearth and be heralded for writing about the human condition.


  1. Hi! I'm not from Alternet, and they republished this post without my permission or even asking.

  2. Replies
    1. Women do read more than men, and based on my own anecdotal evidence, they write better than men. Exhibit A: most of the writers I've become a "fan" of, over the last 10 years or so have been women: A.S. Byatt, Barbara Kingsolver, Louise Erdrich, and, most recently, Geraldine Brooks. Exhibit B: Women, on average, have an earlier rate of language aquisition, and a stronger tendency toward creative play with the spoken and written word. I have a daughter and two sons. They're all pretty bright kids, but my daughter learned to talk much earlier, reads and writes for pleasure constantly, and told me, "I've always wanted to publish a book," when she was six. Okay, none of this is scientific, but based on what I've seen, it strikes me as stunningly unlikely that men deserved to be published at a 3 to 1 rate, over women.