Shocking Charts: Smart Mags Can't Figure Out Where the Women Writers Are
Hot on the heels of Ms. magazine's protest of the small number of women writers published by such "smart magazines" as The New Yorker and Harper's (reported here by my colleague, Tana Ganeva), the literary women of VIDA decided to take a look at the books reviewed by top literary mags and just who was doing the reviewing, and found a similar disparity.
At most publications, the number of books authored by men reviewed by the magazines far outweighed the number of those authored by women, and -- surprise -- most reviews in these publications were penned by men. Magazines surveyed include The New Yorker, The New Republic, Harper's, The Atlantic, Granta, the New York Review of Books and the New York Times Book Review, among others. From VIDA's Web site:
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.
In 2010, VIDA found, Harper's ran reviews by 33 reviewers, a mere six of whom are women -- and only 21 of the 67 books reviewed in Harper's last year were authored by women. (We've posted some of VIDA's graphics below this post.)
At The New Republic, things are even worse, according to VIDA's count: Only nine of 64 titles reviewed were authored by women, and women accounted for only 13 of the magazine's 62 reviewers.
Of the 45 books reviewed by The New Yorker in 2010, only nine were authored by women, VIDA found, while only eight of the magazine's 37 reviewers are women. Things are somewhat better -- the best of a dismal lot, that is -- at the New York Times Book Review, where there were only twice as many men reviewing books as women, and where women authors accounted for 283 of the 807 books reviewed.
Here are a few selected graphics from VIDA's site; more can be found there.