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The VIDA count for 2010

By Harriet Staff

VIDA: Women in the Literary Arts has released their accounting of women writers published, and women writers reviewed at major literary publications like the Atlantic, Boston Review, Harper’s, and Poetry, and it isn’t pretty:

We know women write. We know women read. It’s time to begin asking why the 2010 numbers don’t reflect those facts with any equity. Many have already begun speculating; more articles and groups are pointing out what our findings suggest: the numbers of articles and reviews simply don’t reflect how many women are actually writing.

Check out the charts here to see the red to blue ratios at the major outlets.

The new count has caused a stir, most notably at Slate, where Meghan O’Rourke anticipates and dismisses criticism of the project:

Critics of studies like VIDA’s often dismiss them as a bid for special pleading, arguing that bean-counting is just a way of evading uncomfortable questions about whether men are better (and more prolific) writers and thinkers than women are. The real evasion is the pretense that decisions about who and what get published are the result of merit alone.

and Jezebel, where they take up Stephen Elliott’s call for a slightly wider mode of accounting:

In at least some areas, it seems that women’s writing is getting less recognition than men’s. It’s also true, however, that this could have a trickle-down effect — women have fewer role models in magazines and on year’s best lists, and so they may choose to promote their work less or, in some cases, stop producing it at all. As Elliott says, if women are truly submitting less, they need encouragement. They also, however, need an environment where writing by a woman has as good a chance of being considered Serious as writing by a man. And male and female authors alike acknowledge that we’re not there yet.


Posted in Uncategorized on Thursday, February 3rd, 2011 by Harriet Staff.