The VIDA Statistics for 2011 were published today, and the numbers look bad for women, who write or are written about far less often than men.
The discussion of women contributors to big literary publications, and how often books by women are reviewed, is tiresome but necessary. The statistics, laid bare, are striking. I’ve written about the dearth of women in literary journalism before, in a piece called “Where Are The Queens Of Non-Fiction?”
But what story do these statistics tell? The most common backstories are these:
- male editors prefer to assign men stories, and reviews by male authors
- the publications don’t take women seriously
- the publications, and the editors, are sexist
- topics that women want to write about are deemed “less serious and important” than ones men write about
- fewer women are mentored and encouraged in the world of these publications than are men
- women don’t pitch stories to these publications as often as do men
- women do not self-promote themselves enough to get the attention of these publications
- women have a harder time taking rejection, and thus get discouraged more easily than do men.