Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

Women Writers Get the Shaft (Again); Vida Study Points Out Gender Bias in Literary Mags

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As a woman writer, things like the 2011 Vida study of how literary magazines still have far more male writers working for them than female writers make you go “Hmm.”

Oh, you haven’t heard about that yet?  Take a gander:

http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/cutline/voices-unheard-female-bylines-still-lacking-male-dominated-221607185.html

Here’s the deal: more men write for literary magazines than women, by a wide margin.  At many magazines, male writers outnumber female ones three to one, while the ones that “beat the curve” do so by having “only” sixty-five percent of their articles written by men rather than seventy-five percent.

And it gets worse; most of the books being reviewed by these publications are also written by men, so there’s a double-jeopardy sort of thing going on that I truly do not understand.  (As a prolific book reviewer, I defy anyone to tell me that I’m not the equal of a male book reviewer.  Yet most of these books, written by men, have male book reviewers.  For shame!)

This is unacceptable and inexcusable.  Don’t these magazines (Harper’s, The Atlantic, and The New Yorker among them) realize it’s 2011?  And that women writers are surely the equal of men?  How can something like this continue, especially considering that women read just as much, if not more, than men?

Only Granta, which had a few more female authors than male, and Good magazine, which is evenly split among male and female authors through its first three issues of 2012, have made inroads on this problem — because make no mistake, it is a problem.

And these literary mags can’t even say they were unaware of it, because Vida also published a study in 2010, yet nothing was done.  There has to be a reason for it, and Vida believes they’ve found it: gender bias.  As Erin Belieu, co-founder of Vida, pointed out in the Yahoo blog post:

“Gender bias is pretty ingrained–this is a expression in the literary world, but it happens everywhere.”

Amen, sister!

I have news for these literary publications, folks: writers write.  It’s what we do.  And last I checked, having writing talent has nothing to do with your gender — why should it?

There is an obvious answer here that most of these literary mags are missing: hire more female writers.  Because believe you me, we can write, and we’re not afraid to say so.

My guess is that around this time next year, I’ll again have to talk about the literary mags that would rather hire male writers than female ones to write articles, book reviews, and more, because change is glacial in publishing.  (As we have already seen!)  But I would love to be proven wrong — someone?  Anyone?  (Bueller?)

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Written by Barb Caffrey

March 3, 2012 at 5:35 pm

Posted in Book reviews, Books, Publishing

Tagged with ,

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