And the results of the 2014 VIDA Count are in! In addition to the fifth annual poll, which measures female presence in literary publications and journals, VIDA: Women in Literary Arts also conducted their second Larger Literary Landscape VIDA Count and their first-ever Women of Color VIDA Count.
The VIDA Count was created by the volunteer organization in 2010, and has since "not only effected change in the publishing industry, but has also created a strong community of writers and advocates who stand with us." The Count is carried out by a team of volunteer women who “manually, painstakingly tally the gender disparity” in periodicals and reviews such as Harper’s, The Atlantic, and The New Yorker, in an effort to level the “sloped playing field” in favor of equal representation between male and female contributors.
The 2014 results show some promising improvement. The New Republic shows major improvement in their representation of female book reviewers, jumping from just 7 percent in 2013 to 39 percent in 2014. And after being called out in the 2013 VIDA Count for their overwhelming stock of male contributors (75 percent to be exact), Harper’s magazine is making strides toward parity: the percentage of female book reviewers at the famed publication increased from last year’s 29 percent to 40 percent. McSweeney’s also showed improvement over 2013’s disheartening numbers: in 2013, 77 percent of their published pieces were written by men; and in 2014, 52 percent of pieces published on the online literary magazine were by men.
Pretty amazingly, the Boston Review published more female-written reviews than those by male writers. And representation is virtually equal at The New York Times Book Review, with women comprising 52 percent of their total book reviewers.
However, 2014 did see some slippages in equality, too. At The Paris Review, only 40 percent of contributors were female compared to last year’s near-equal 51 percent. And gender representation at The Nation remained consistently unequal in 2014: although last year’s 29 percent female presence jumped from 2013’s 27 percent, the overall “share of the pie remains dismally small.”
Although 2014 offered a mixed bag, many readers believe the numbers are still not where they should be:
And the numbers that have been released from the 2014 Women of Color VIDA Count — the results of which are as yet incomplete — is raising some serious red flags.
Even publications that have seen improvement over the past year are determined to close the gender gap in the years to come:
While the numbers — and the tweets — generated by the 2014 Vida Count are raising awareness of the persistent need for equality within the world of journalism, we can only hope that the 2015 Count sees that awareness put into action. Head over to the VIDA: Women in Literary Arts website for a fuller picture of this year's stats.
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