The VIDA Count 2012

March 4, 2013 | by | 13 | Tagged:

13 Comments to 'The VIDA Count 2012'

  • No matter how these numbers get manipulated, It still looks GRIM for females.

  • Hey—-thanks for these annually unsettling numbers. Do you have stats from any other magazines? I imagine the picture is much the same across the board, but I’m just curious. Also, one other thing I’m wondering: do you have any info on the gender composition of the submission stacks received by the magazines? I imagine that kind of information would be very hard to get. Anyway, you’re definitely doing a public service here. I have shared this on Facebook and am hoping writers will start thinking our way toward solutions.

  • Alise Hamilton says:

    @Roseanne – Grim, but I think it it so important to support publications like Tin House that are working to fix the inequality and identify the contributing factors rather than others which seem to brush it off or ignore the problem altogether. We’ve worked hard to prove a gender discrepancy DOES exist, now it’s time to make a change!

  • Erin Hoover says:

    @David, VIDA doesn’t have access to submissions information, but it would be great if magazines did their own internal comparisons on what they’re receiving vs. what they publish. I’ve studied with so many talented women at the MFA and PhD level, and I know they’re full-throttle on sending out work. As to this information being depressing, or as Rosanne notes, “grim,” what VIDA is putting out there only makes me want to submit MORE.

  • Daniel says:

    Interestingly, the places that pay terribly seem to be the ones more likely to publish women. Make of this what you will.

  • Lev says:

    And what did you expect?

  • Alex says:

    Unless we know the number of men and women submitting, these numbers are meaningless at best and unfair at worst.

  • Susie Macksey says:

    It’s almost like there ought to be a periodical devoted to reviewing books by women. Oh, wait, there is:

  • Anon says:

    VIDA, please contextualize these findings with ratios of published works and if possible, public consumption of the applicable fields by gender. I’m lent to suspect that women comprise the majority of the latter while the minority of the former. If that’s true, the problem is quite the opposite of what might be inferred from the charts above: namely, that the gatekeeping function which appears to be holding back parity occurs at the publishing houses rather than with review(er)s.

    This will lead to a clearer course of action for rectifying the imbalance- perhaps encouraging organization of women’s market power. On the other hand, encouraging public pressure on the reviewers may be counterproductive if there is some easily discernible factor which leads to these figures, such as publication ratios. It could prejudice reviewers against your cause to receive a volume of indignant yet under-informed emails.

    I’m ignorant toward the actual nature of the business, though. So if my expectations are way off base, perhaps put up the data so that others can avoid my error. Thanks for keeping up the work.

  • Lucy says:

    Reminds me of how the art world was in the late 80s til concerned women actually went out to deliberately publicly shame the museums and galleries and art world publications by conducting hilarious agitprop in public for a few years (Gorilla Girls, WAC and others). Demands to have shows of women artists such as Louise Bourgeois, at that time still operating with very little access to exposure. Now we have a many more women artists represented in the museums and galleries. The key was the public nature of the campaign, the mocking and clever antic-ness of it all. There were marches down Fifth Avenue, events in masks all over the city at openings and fundraisers and wherever art world people were to be found. And the women who participated felt they had to wear masks so they would not destroy their own careers by agitating for change, regardless of the same liberal makeup of the art world, as is now in the literary world. It worked.

  • I am the editor of Star*Line, the journal of the Science Fiction Poetry Association, and the poetry editor for Mobius: The Journal of Social Change. In Mobius, I publish approximately twice as many male contributors as female (judging by author name); in Star*Line, about three times as many men as women. For both, I receive twice as many submissions from men as from women.

    I had calculated the ratios for Mobius a couple of years ago, on the occasion of yet another discussion of gender bias in publishing. It pleased me that I was publishing work in the same gender proportion as the submissions, because I felt that it supported: a) that the quality of work from both genders was equivalent; and b) that I was not exhibiting a gender bias. (Of course, it could also be plausibly inferred that: a] one gender’s work is far superior to the other; and b] I do have a strong gender bias in the other direction.)

    I should be less pleased to find that I am currently accepting a higher proportion of work from men for Star*Line compared to the submissions ratio. However, I don’t consider myself to be favoring men; I consider myself to be favoring good poetry; i.e., poetry that meets my standards and tastes. There are all sorts of potential explanations for the Star*Line gender discrepancy; one possible explanation is that a number of high-profile journals exist withing the speculative poetry genre that specifically promote women’s issues and gender issues, and that female poets are submitting to those venues preferentially. I welcome discussion regarding this phenomenon.

    Another characteristic of male submitters: they form a higher percentage of the submissions because they submit more frequently than women—or, at least, are more frequently repeat submitters. Persistence sometimes does pay; if a poet’s work is close to publishable quality and multiple submissions are sent, there is a much greater likelihood of one piece appealing to an editor.

    Politically, I support affirmative action. However, I do not believe that the concept is appropriately applied to publishing. A student or employee lacking skills or experience because of societal inequities can be brought up to speed; a poem, once published, is not generally altered (and while my editing is hands-on, I have no intention of rewriting inadequate or unsuitable submissions in a manner that exceeds the abilities of the poets themselves).

    Based on my submissions statistics, which I believe to be the norm, I think the real issue is not what’s being published. The important question raised is: why are women not submitting in the same numbers as men? Superficial interpretation of statistics like those above discourage women from submitting even more. The statistics that need to be stressed are not the publication ratios, but whether there is any difference between the submissions ratio and the acceptance ratio—and then, if there is a difference, to talk about why it exists. The most obvious way for women to get published more is to submit more. And I suspect that the same holds true for applicants to review and editorial positions.

    As an editor, I welcome submissions from both genders to Star*Line and Mobius. At present, I publish as many poems as I can find that I like; if I begin to get more poems I like than I can publish, I will raise my standards. I will not change my acceptance policies, which are based on my own tastes and on suitability for the journal in question.

    As a poet and writer, I can inform you that I am female. Also that for the last several years, the acceptance rate for my poetry submissions has averaged over 50%—many from paying markets. I have hundreds of published poems, have won numerous awards for my writing, and have had four chapbooks published by independent presses. No MFA; I got where I am by industriously reading, writing, performing and attending performances, and submitting—in that order of importance. While my gender may not be immediately inferred from my byline, I take no extraordinary measures to conceal it. Nor do I submit, as a rule, to venues that claim to consider submissions from women preferentially—that practice, I believe, actively denigrates female writers. From where I see it, the problem is motivating female writers to submit more, to be persistent—and that involves taking risks.

  • Got some more charts for you.

    One on there no one should disregard – more female than male college graduates right now. Right. Now. By 2050 it won’t even be close. So let us get ready to run a lot of publications.

  • Tal says:

    Top-tier magazines like Harper´s and The New Yorker don´t publish from the slushpile. They commission the articles and fiction they publish, so the argument that more men submit than women isn´t valid. Systematically, editors reach out to male authors to fill their pages. Editors also argue ¨We´re not sexist, look at our mashead – our key editors are women,¨¨ but this only makes the exclusion of female authors – their lack of a platform – more insidious. The disparity is also stark in the breaking news business at the most influential papers. Take a look at the front page of the NYT on the day of any major breaking story, such as yesterday´s tragic bombings in Boston, and you´ll find a flood of male bylines. This has nothing to do with talent – and everything to do with an entrenched gentleman´s contempt – easily veiled with a lot of lipservice paid to equality – for women who seek a place in the world of letters..I hope Vida continues its good work. Maybe a door or two in the old boys´clubs listed here will open and stay open.