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The 2018 VIDA (Women in Literary Arts) Count

15 November 2019

From VIDA:

Of the 15 publications in our main VIDA Count, 3 published 50% or more women writers: Tin House (64.6%), Granta (57.6%), and Boston Review (53.6%).1

While Granta, Poetry, and Tin House have consistently been members of the 50%+ club, this is the Boston Review’s first time breaking the threshold. It will be interesting to see if this is an actual change or a reaction to the negative press surrounding their response to serious allegations against editor Junot Díaz.

A special shout out to Poetry: while their women writers made up 47.3%, their nonbinary writers made up 9.6%, including more nonbinary writers in print than the other 14 publications combined (times two!). This earns them double snaps for making a concerted effort to move beyond gender parity and, instead, curate a more gender diverse publication.

Meanwhile, at 4 years in a row, the Feckless Five are back, with fewer than 40% of women writers in their publication totals: Times Literary Supplement (38.5%), The Nation (36.9%), The Threepenny Review (36.6%), London Review of Books (33.7%), and The Atlantic (33.6%).

The New York Review of Books, once again, had the worst numbers of all 40 publications at a measly 27.1%, which is, sadly, the highest percentage of women they’ve published since the beginning of the VIDA Count (2010: 10.4%, 2011: 20.3%, 2012: 20.2%, 2013: 20.5%, 2014: 26.3%, 2015: 20.2%, 2016: 24.7%, 2017: 23.3%). Looking at their yearly comparison, it seems clear that The New York Review of Books, under the stewardship of the late Robert Silvers and his successor Ian Buruma (who resigned due to backlash against his choice to publish an essay by a disgraced Canadian radio broadcaster who had been accused of sexual assault by more than 20 women), cared little about publishing women writers. Let’s hope that the new co-editors take their publication’s gender imbalance more seriously. A publication that so summarily dismisses women writers is not a publication that should be lauded.

The remaining five publications had women representing between 40% and 49.9% of their total publications: The Paris Review (48.8%), The New York Times Book Review (48.0%), Harper’s Magazine (46.6%), The New Republic (44.5%), and The New Yorker (42.3%). Congratulations to The New Yorker; after a seven-year streak of incremental gains, you’ve finally made it out of the bottom of the barrel. Here’s hoping it isn’t a fluke!

. . . .

We’re excited to say that for the first time since the beginning of the VIDA Count, not a single one of the 25 literary magazines counted in the LLL had fewer than 40% of women writers in their total publications.2 Let’s hope this is a sustained threshold for these publications; we’d hate to see a backslide.

An astounding 16 publications published at least 50% women writers. Leading the pack after a two year hiatus was McSweeney’s at 70.6%.

We want to give special praise to Ninth Letter for having the most visually diverse gender chart the VIDA Count has ever witnessed! With their inclusion of 12.7% nonbinary writers, we hope to see more publications take Ninth Letter’s (and Poetry’s) lead on increasing gender diversity overall*.

On that note, the majority of publications (15) in the LLL did not appear to include a single nonbinary writer amongst their pages: A Public Space, AGNI, Callaloo, The Cincinnati Review, Conjunctions, Fence, Gettysburg Review, Kenyon Review, McSweeney’s, The Missouri Review, n+1, New American Writing, Pleiades, The Southern Review, and Southwest Review.

Link to the rest at VIDA

For the record, PG is ultra-multinary, so he covers all the bases.

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One Comments to “The 2018 VIDA (Women in Literary Arts) Count”

  1. Pointless identity virtue signalling points.

    Let merit prevail.

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