On the byline gender gap
Last month, VIDA published a tally
of male and female bylines at a variety of thought-leader magazines in 2010.
The results aren't pretty. At the Atlantic,
men outnumbered women by a three-to-one ratio. The New Yorker was only slightly better, and Harper's and the New Republic
were worse. Worst of all? The New
York Review of Books, which favored men by a factor of six.
I counted up Century
bylines for comparison. (I went with print magazine authors, both to
maintain an apples-to-apples situation and to dodge the issue of contributing
to the problem by putting my name on a blog post about it.) In 2010, there were
about twice as many men as women in our pages. In other words, we're doing
better at this than a lot of folks are, but the fact that we can say this with
a two-to-one ratio speaks to the enormity of the broader problem.
This isn't a new debate, and if it were an
easy thing to fix, the numbers would be better. But as Ann Friedman has
argued for years, it's inadequate to write this off as a supply-side
problem--to maintain that the real problem is not that women have a harder time
getting prominently published but that there just aren't as many of them
writing. Recently Friedman created a new site to underscore this point: Lady Journos!,
a Tumblr blog that, like other sites, curates long-form journalism published
elsewhere--but focuses exclusively on female bylines.
I've added Lady Journos! to my feed reader. (Do you read
the Century by RSS feed?
If not, you should try it.) The site doesn't just make
a rhetorical point; it also offers a practical tool for encountering more
magazine writing by women.