Join 3,373 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


'Lad' and 'lady' are more than just a letter apart
June 17, 2011 11:14 AM   Subscribe

Only 13% of articles in the New Republic, 22% of articles in The Atlantic and 30% of articles in the New Yorker are by women. ThinkProgress' Alyssa Rosenberg wonders why men's magazines underserve women and women's magazines underserve journalism. Anne Hays is boycotting the New Yorker for publishing too few women. Ta-Nehisi Coates thinks it's about old-fashioned class norms. Are the "female stars of long-form journalism" the solution to the problem or a red herring?
posted by Apropos of Something (70 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite

 
The "stars" previously: Zadie Smith, Vanessa Grigoriadis, Amanda Ripley, Doree Shafrir, Edith Zimmerman (who also curated the "Letters to the Editors of Women's Magazines" series on the Awl).
posted by Apropos of Something at 11:20 AM on June 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


I would speculate that there are more (unpaid) women bloggers, though.
posted by misha at 11:24 AM on June 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


The New Yorker is also home to another fairly prominent female long-form journalist.
posted by Trurl at 11:29 AM on June 17, 2011


I had thought it was better than that. Bummer. Maybe the numbers are a bit better if you include the fiction and short review pieces?

Ah, it looks like the counting left those out, as well as "cultural criticism":
A quick calculation of all non-cultural criticism stories in these three magazines over the past year shows that women trail men when it comes to bylines. The New Republic scored the worst, with only 13% of its stories penned by women. The Atlantic had 22% and The New Yorker (where I didn’t take in account fiction or Talk of the Town, in addition to criticism) had 30% of its stories written by women.
I guess I'd be more interested in the overall numbers, but I'd agree that there isn't much excuse for such disproportionate results in this day and age. (I'd also guess that there is a large generational component, too -- take out the writers from the John McPhee and Paul Theroux generation, and look at writers under 35 only, and I would hope that the results would be more impressive. But that may just be wishful thinking...)
posted by Forktine at 11:29 AM on June 17, 2011


Crank boycotts magazine. World keeps turning.
posted by channel-1- at 11:30 AM on June 17, 2011 [4 favorites]


Crank boycotts magazine. World keeps turning.

Please don't do this. It adds nothing of value to the world or to the thread.
posted by shakespeherian at 11:32 AM on June 17, 2011 [21 favorites]


What percentage of submissions are by women, I wonder.
posted by IndigoJones at 11:32 AM on June 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


Huh. The New Yorker's numbers are higher than I'd thought.
posted by rtha at 11:36 AM on June 17, 2011


Crank boycotts magazine. World keeps turning.

Why is she a crank?
posted by kmz at 11:45 AM on June 17, 2011


Anne Hays is boycotting the New Yorker for publishing too few women.

Is that really a solution to the problem of too few women getting published?
posted by Nomyte at 11:48 AM on June 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


And are you sure the world's still turning??
posted by auto-correct at 11:48 AM on June 17, 2011


This brings to mind a related piece I read recently, about how women's writing is perceived vs. men's writing in literature: Write like a man: The unspoken rule for avoiding the pink cover.
posted by sevenyearlurk at 11:54 AM on June 17, 2011 [3 favorites]


Why is she a crank?

"I have enclosed the January issue and expect a refund. You may either extend our subscription by one month, or you can replace this issue with a back issue containing a more equitable ratio of male to female voices. I plan to return every issue that contains fewer than five women writers. "
posted by smackfu at 12:00 PM on June 17, 2011 [8 favorites]


Women submit much less often to prestigious publications because they are less arrogant and confident than men, generally. This is why my friend Katie Orenstein founded the OpEd Project, which trains women (and minorities who often have similar issues) to write op-eds and submit them to high level publications. Support them, they really do get more women out there and reduce these disparities.

Unfortunately, while men tend to think "Of course my work is good enough for the New Yorker," women tend to be less self-promoting and less likely to aim for the very top tier.

Obviously, those are generalizations and there are plenty of us who are arrogant and self-promoting. But I'm astonished by finding this issue everywhere. For example, lists of science journalists tend to include few women—even though many top science journalists are women (especially in health, which is sort of the women's science ghetto). On twitter, men tend to ask each other to RT—women just post and hope that will happen.
posted by Maias at 12:03 PM on June 17, 2011 [3 favorites]


It is really too bad that there are laws prohibiting women from starting their own magazine featuring female authors and voices.
posted by Renoroc at 12:06 PM on June 17, 2011 [3 favorites]


Please don't do this.

What's the this?
posted by Billiken at 12:08 PM on June 17, 2011


How many series on HBO written by women?
films directed by Women?
how many chefs on cooking shows are women?
How many university presidents are women?
Oddly, I spend most of my time reading what is there and seldom focus upon percentages of race, gender represented, though I know I should object if I feel insufficient diversity represented.
But then I once did this for pro basketball and noted no team had 50% whites.
Such things can be "fixed." New Haven had for years a half marathon, run every Labor Day. After a few years it was clear that Kenyons were winning all the money as top runners, so they re-wrote the entry qualifications: runners to qualify for money had to be American citizens. That fixed things but then the elite runners no longer felt it worth competing, be they black or white runners.
posted by Postroad at 12:09 PM on June 17, 2011 [4 favorites]


I have it on good authority that John Updike is actually a pseudonym for Roz Chast.
posted by The White Hat at 12:10 PM on June 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm not following how a gesture the gesture of protest you quotes is that of a crank, smackfu. Could you elaborate, instead of presuming it is self-evident?
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:12 PM on June 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


There's Ranger Rick, but what about Ranger Rachelle?
posted by FJT at 12:14 PM on June 17, 2011


Could you elaborate, instead of presuming it is self-evident?

Oh, the part about "please send me a back-issue with more women". I figured she was just boycotting it for real, instead she is making odd requests, like a crank.
posted by smackfu at 12:16 PM on June 17, 2011 [3 favorites]


Are you sure that was intended literally, rather than ironically?
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:17 PM on June 17, 2011


Too bad the New Yorker does not print more women - hopefully this will change. However, the women who do write for the New Yorker are often more memorable than their male counterparts:

Nancy Franklin manages to make TV interesting
Elizabeth Kolbert is probably one of the finest environmental journalists out there
Cyntia Ozick is one of the better essayists in the English language
Katharine White played a major role shaping the editorial focus of the New Yorker's fiction
Diana Trilling was a superb essayist
Joan Acocella manages to make modern dance approachable as a magazine subject
Alice Munro is the of course the finest short story writer alive

If the New Yorker could manage to cultivate a gender parity of women writers of this calibre, imagine how much greater the magazine would be.
posted by KokuRyu at 12:21 PM on June 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


Well, the whole letter wasn't really intended for the actual editors, so... who knows.
posted by smackfu at 12:22 PM on June 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


Hey women, why aren't you writing more stories for the New Yorker??? I'm going to boycott women until they start writing more articles for high-end periodicals.
posted by Edgewise at 12:27 PM on June 17, 2011 [7 favorites]


What about Think Progress? Of the 20 articles currently on the homepage, 70% are by men; 15% by women (2 of them as in a "news flash", 1 as a "guest blogger").

I would love to see women's voices heard at the same level as men. I'd love more diversity by ethnicity, too. What I'd really love is to not care about the gender or ethnicity of the author and base the merit of the article/publication on the articles and not they they do or don't have a equal coverage.
posted by birdherder at 12:28 PM on June 17, 2011 [3 favorites]


There's been an ever increasing race for idiocy in women's magazines that I noted when my highschool art class provided me with a stack of dog eared seventeen magazines for a collage project.

I'd had a subscription in my final years of middle school, and I enjoyed the short fiction, but I noticed even circa 2000, by the time I'd given it up they'd phased out the short stories (these were "issues" stories, like one about a teenage girl whose brother had life threatening pica, on being poor and trying to handle being overshadowed by a college bound sister, or a girl stranded on an eternal island of guys so she could decide to have any boyfriend she wanted, so she could decide that being single was fine) and ramped up the lipstick and what-celebrities-are-wearing pictorials and advertisement-articles. But the 1986 issue of seventeen magazine? There was moderate skill cooking instructions, craft plans, sensible social advice... sure it was based around stereotypical femme tasks, but it assumed both a higher level of literacy and competence.

These days, what do girls do in their magazines? Nada. Literacy is non-existent (the short stories went down in flames, and were constantly getting bashed in the letters to the editor), the closest to advice is a holiday gift guide and I think I saw "ants on a log" as piece of cooking advice, a recipe so basic it was in my kiddy magazine "Highlights" when I was little.

I tried Jezebel for a while, for my femme reading needs, but they switched from interesting, funny articles to doing write ups of daytime television and I stopped reading completely. There's nothing out there as far as magazines if you like being hyper-femme but you also want to be capable.
posted by Phalene at 12:31 PM on June 17, 2011 [3 favorites]


Complaining that Gentlemen's Quarterly is too masculine oriented really breaks new ground in backseat publishing. Possible new posts for my blog, "The Advocate: Why So Queer All the Time?" and "Sports Illustrated: For Jocks Only?"
posted by Winnemac at 12:34 PM on June 17, 2011 [7 favorites]


And while she's at it, she should boycott every magazine who does not employ an equal 50/50 split of male and female writers/photographers/etc.!

This is just stupid. If there is evidence, specifically of this particular magazine she is boycotting, of those in charge purposely overlooking/casting aside genuinely good articles by women, then there'd be more to talk about and this would be a valid complaint.
posted by Malice at 12:43 PM on June 17, 2011 [6 favorites]


What's particularly interesting to me is that the strongest specific voices writing on political topics are often the people whose opinions and styles I respect the most (Dahlia Lithwick om the Supreme Court comes to mind most quickly)

While I don't agree with it, I can at least understand the arguments people are snarkily making in this thread against parity for parity's sake -- though I'll never understand the asshole-tactic of blaming women working in the industry for it in any way.

But in this case, because I don't think anyone can argue that there isn't plenty of shit-writing out there in magazines, the problem isn't just that women aren't given a shot, it's that the old boy's network is actively harming the product. THC gets it close to right win he says its a class issue, and I suppose that's what it is the most -- the small networking means you just have to be in the right class -- which isn't necessarily just about starting out poor or not the well off ("class" is one of those words that get people to think one thing but often means something else)
posted by MCMikeNamara at 12:48 PM on June 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


Yes, it would be lovely if women submitted more, but we don't know if women submit 10-30% of the pieces, more, less, etc. There is also social conditioning against women bragging about themselves, and it is policed -- by men and by women, yes, both -- heavily. Telling a major magazine that you wrote an article and it is good enough fro them to print is bragging. This is a shame, absolutely, but it pervades the entire culture.



Phew, it's been 2 days since the "it's the women's fault! there's actually no sexism!" E3 post, and I was worried I might not get enough sexism on Metafilter to keep me awake and irritated through Friday afternoon.
posted by jeather at 12:51 PM on June 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


"And are you sure the world's still turning??"

I'm still having trouble dancing.
posted by klangklangston at 12:52 PM on June 17, 2011


An interesting question, at first reaction however I would guess there are two obvious statistics missing from this debate.

First, what is the ratio of submissions by male / female authors. Second, what is the gender balance of the readership of the New Yorker. I could not find good figures, but I suspect (anecdotally) that the new yorker is both read and submitted too by Men in the majority. Its difficult to argue that the kind of longform magazine writing that is prominent in publications like the newyorker is mainly aimed at men. For a more obvious example, pick up a copy of Esquire and compare it too a copy of Vogue - both are essentially aimed at the same socioeconomic class and interests, but one values longform writing and one does not.

I would love to see the new yorker appeal to a more female audience, but in an institution as elitist as the new yorker, its not surprising that it appeals to other societal elites, who are, surprise surprise, men. Attacking it seems to me to be attacking a symptom rather than a problem

I am much more concerned by the relative lack of female novelists, even though the (sometimes large) majority of readers of novels are women (except in narrow genres ).
posted by Another Fine Product From The Nonsense Factory at 12:55 PM on June 17, 2011


I am much more concerned by the relative lack of female novelists

I would have never known this. Coincidentally (entirely coincidence) most novels I read are written by women.
posted by Malice at 1:02 PM on June 17, 2011


Hey women, why aren't you writing more stories for the New Yorker??? I'm going to boycott women until they start writing more articles for high-end periodicals.

With this attitude you may not even have to.
posted by shakespeherian at 1:03 PM on June 17, 2011 [9 favorites]


I'm going to hold off on forming an opinion about this until I hear from V.S. Naipaul.
posted by The Card Cheat at 1:09 PM on June 17, 2011 [8 favorites]


There's nothing out there as far as magazines if you like being hyper-femme but you also want to be capable.

I know at least one. Here's one with less focus on the hyperfemme.

Re number of women submitting/getting accepted, we could easily solve this problem if the New Yorker required gender-neutral bylines.
posted by emjaybee at 1:10 PM on June 17, 2011


For a more obvious example, pick up a copy of Esquire and compare it too a copy of Vogue - both are essentially aimed at the same socioeconomic class and interests, but one values longform writing and one does not.

No, actually, Esquire is a grab-all general-interest men's mag with wildly vacillating editorial stances, and Vogue is primarily a high fashion and high lifestyle mag with as far as I can tell a pretty consistent idea for the last twenty years. To use their differences as an acid test to prove that women don't read or generate long-form journalism is incoherent even before it starts to be a bizarre argument.

I would love to see the new yorker appeal to a more female audience, but in an institution as elitist as the new yorker, its not surprising that it appeals to other societal elites, who are, surprise surprise, men. Attacking it seems to me to be attacking a symptom rather than a problem

You make it sound like the New Yorker has no choice about this. I'll bet you breakfast (with mimosas) that there's no Dean of the Boy's Club whispering conspiratorial misogyny in the New Yorker's ear. Its editors are sentient human beings who can choose to commission and accept more pieces by women. It's not like the New Yorker is generated out of cultural effluvia which weekly collects in NYC. It's not, like, a gland.

Also, I find it really, really confusing that you consider the New Yorker unappealing to women.

First, what is the ratio of submissions by male / female authors.

This may sound rash, and it's obviously pure supposition, but I don't think we have to know this. I think the New Yorker can attract any kind of talent it wants to, and at any time probably has a pool of wildly interesting stuff to publish. I think there's enough good female stuff sitting in their slush pile or waiting on the other end of their phonebook that they can do better.
posted by gimpel at 1:16 PM on June 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


Also, I find it really, really confusing that you consider the New Yorker unappealing to women.

My wife reads The New Yorker cover to cover and I have looked at, like, three articles ever, and only because she showed them to me.
posted by shakespeherian at 1:17 PM on June 17, 2011


Women make up a majority of students at journalism schools such as Mizzou, Kansas and Chapel Hill. This is especially true in the magazine curriculum. I never had a class, either as a student or an instructor, that had more than a handful of men. The last magazine editing class I taught at Mizzou (in 2006) had about 20 students, all of them women. Of the ones I've kept in touch with, most are working in the magazine industry as editorial assistants, copy editors and fact-checkers. That also squares with my professional experience: every publication I've worked for had more women on the masthead with men. Very few of my students decided to be writers. There's no shame in that--editing jobs, if you can get them, usually provide more stability than the existence of a freelance writer. They also draw on different skill sets. I myself quit writing and moved to editing years ago.

What I find more telling is that, of all the publications I've worked at, none had a female editor in chief or publisher. There still seems to be a glass ceiling for a lot of women in the industry. My former students are still too young to have really encountered this, but a lot of my old bosses and coworkers left the industry altogether. I can't say it was only because they felt it was too hard, or impossible, to climb up the ladder. Print journalism isn't exactly a healthy business these days, after all, and lots of people are scrambling to find something else to do. Which would make me think this current kerfluffle is akin to rearranging the proverbial deck chairs on the Titanic, except that I suspect the patterns I've witnessed aren't limited to the journalism business.
posted by Rangeboy at 1:20 PM on June 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


These days, what do girls do in their magazines? Nada. Literacy is non-existent (the short stories went down in flames, and were constantly getting bashed in the letters to the editor), the closest to advice is a holiday gift guide and I think I saw "ants on a log" as piece of cooking advice, a recipe so basic it was in my kiddy magazine "Highlights" when I was little.

But what are the teenage boys in that age group reading? Sports Illustrated is the only thing that comes to mind, and I'm not sure if that's any better than Seventeen going by literary merit.
posted by gyc at 1:30 PM on June 17, 2011


@gimpel I don't think the New Yorker is unappealing to women, but anecdotally, based on my estimation of its brand, to primarily have a male readership. I would be happily to be proven wrong by actual facts, but those seem very hard to find. Also, If you don't think Vogue is comparable to Esquire, feel free to choose another successful "grab-all general-interest women's mag" with comparable longform articles to make the comparison.

My point is simply that my perception (which could be wrong, if so that would say something else interesting) is that, especially in non-fiction, longform magazine writing is at the moment primarily written by and for men.
posted by Another Fine Product From The Nonsense Factory at 1:30 PM on June 17, 2011


A lot of people have asked or commented about the "rate of submissions by women." I recall reading recently (probably here on the blue) that the major magazines such as the New Yorker don't sit around waiting for great submissions. They commission them.

Meaning, the editor approaches the writer that he/she wants to do the piece.

Thus, the low percentage of women writers on those periodicals is due in part to editorial selection - that is, despite the "long form" stars discussed in one of the links, the prestige magazines revert to their male go-tos, which reinforces the lack of women.

I will post now and go look for the previous discussion, which was quite interesting.
posted by Measured Out my Life in Coffeespoons at 1:33 PM on June 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


First, what is the ratio of submissions by male / female authors.

For magazines like the New Yorker, this is very nearly irrelevant: they do not accept submissions by random people. Okay, maybe not "never," but so rarely as to be, effectively, never. That's not how magazines like this get their authors. They commission pieces by particular writers. Once a writer is a regular, the writer will pitch stuff. Or, if the writer isn't a regular but is sufficiently prominent (to the editorial staff, not necessarily to the world at large), they will pitch stories.

So the question really is: who are the editors, and who are they asking to write stuff for them? How do they find new writers? Based on my own experience long ago and far away as a magazine editor, I know how we did it, and I suspect the New Yorker's editors are similar.
posted by rtha at 1:40 PM on June 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


On failure to preview, what Measured said.
posted by rtha at 1:40 PM on June 17, 2011


Man, boycotting the New Yorker is like boycotting air. Or sex. Or a really tremendous evacuation. Stuff of life, for sure.
posted by docpops at 1:44 PM on June 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


I've never read Seventeen, but I thought the general perception of Sports Illustrated was the quality was pretty high, even if it's not the New Worker.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 1:44 PM on June 17, 2011


And when you think of how many are written by Caitlin Flanagen, you could just up and cry.
posted by Diablevert at 1:44 PM on June 17, 2011


Funny, rtha. I just found the quote I was thinking of and it was actually you who said it, sparked by the open letter to the New Yorker posted above, and well, the exact same discussion. Though it's certainly reinforced by the link above describing the "assignment process" at GQ.

I'd attach the link to the February 20th discussion, but I can't figure out how. So much for a splashy entry into the blue.
posted by Measured Out my Life in Coffeespoons at 1:50 PM on June 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


Even if the New Yorker took submissions from anybody, there's no reason to think women aren't discouraged enough not to bother. If a general interest magazine doesn't have parity in who it publishes, it's the magazine's fault.
posted by Astro Zombie at 2:05 PM on June 17, 2011


There was an interesting discussion on The Sunday Edition (CBC) back in February. Although it was pretty clear the people who agreed to be interviewed felt this wasn't a problem in their publication. I did get a lot more interested in Mother Jones after listening, anyways.
posted by carolr at 2:39 PM on June 17, 2011


I don't think the New Yorker is unappealing to women, but anecdotally, based on my estimation of its brand, to primarily have a male readership. I would be happily to be proven wrong by actual facts, but those seem very hard to find.

I don't really know that it matters, but the New Yorker reports its readership as 51-53% women, 47-49% men. Don't say I never Googled something for you.
posted by jhc at 2:41 PM on June 17, 2011 [8 favorites]


And when you think of how many are written by Caitlin Flanagen, you could just up and cry.


...and the rest are by Sandra Tsing Loh
posted by Esteemed Offendi at 2:49 PM on June 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


Funny, rtha.

Ha! That is funny. I remember making a comment to that effect but I was too lazy to track it down.

To make a nice link, copy the URL. Then, in the comment box, type the word you want to linkify, like this one, highlight it, then click the underlined "link" word in the lower-right corner of the comment box. Paste in URL, hit okay, and away you go! Oh, and to link to a specific comment from mefi, hit the timestamp of the comment, then copy that URL.
posted by rtha at 3:01 PM on June 17, 2011


Hey, I'm boycotting the New Yorker too. Of course, I'm doing it because of the Dallas Pridgen ads at the back of every issue.
posted by benito.strauss at 3:20 PM on June 17, 2011


So, what are the ratios for local newspapers? or Time and Newsweek? Or National Geographic? or Rolling Stone?

I mean, if you exclude publications and publishers which don't have adequate female representation in their ranks, you pretty much block off most of publishing.

I'm not saying this is right, and certainly support the idea that it should change. But affecting change in the Old Boys' Club which is publishing of both books and periodicals may be beyond difficult.

What about places like Salon or The Daily Beast or Huffington Post? What are their ratios like?

Of course... two of the big global female bloggers of the past little while have turned out to be middle-aged men disguised as vocal lesbians... So I'm really not sure what to say about any of this.

Write Tina Brown at The Daily Beast and see if she'll change Newsweek's and TDB's ratios. That's one way to approach the problem. She's probably the most powerful female in publishing who isn't Oprah or Martha Stewart.
posted by hippybear at 4:44 PM on June 17, 2011


With this attitude you may not even have to.

I don't think you understand what I meant. I'm not implying that it's women's fault; I'm saying that we really don't know enough to get all riled up at this point. As many have said, given that we don't know the gender ratio of submissions, it's very premature to blame any party. But if you really want to be offended by me and the New Yorker, I won't take that away from you.

This may sound rash, and it's obviously pure supposition, but I don't think we have to know this. I think the New Yorker can attract any kind of talent it wants to, and at any time probably has a pool of wildly interesting stuff to publish. I think there's enough good female stuff sitting in their slush pile or waiting on the other end of their phonebook that they can do better.

I really disagree. You're talking about a pretty high-end magazine, and every month they are looking for the best submissions they can find. I don't see any reason to assume they're backlogged with tons of awesome material, forced to throw darts at a board to pick between all the equally perfect articles. I have no inside knowledge, but I'm guessing they're always desperate for the best they can find. Which is not to say they can't be biased. I just don't think they have the kind of surplus material that would allow them to adjust the ratio to whatever they want.
posted by Edgewise at 4:56 PM on June 17, 2011


But again, that's just a theory. To truly test it, you'd want to have some understanding of the history of women's magazines. For instance, what was Mademoiselle like circa 1976? I know that the magazine once published literary fiction, but that's about it. Smarter people than me can take this one on. I've probably been studying the Civil War for too long.

Dear Ta-Nehisi Coates,

since you're the senior editor of the Atlantic, why don't you commission a female writer to research and write an interesting article on this topic? I have it on good authority that there are things called libraries and search engines which can greatly aid such historical investigations.

Yours sincerely,

Captain Obvious
posted by anigbrowl at 4:59 PM on June 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


Dear Ta-Nehisi Coates, since you're the senior editor of the Atlantic

AFAIK he's not for real the editor. They just like to give their bloggers inflated titles. Plus I'm okay with him sticking to his knitting --- I'm really interested to read his civil war book, he's been researching that for like two years.
posted by Diablevert at 6:38 PM on June 17, 2011


and every month they are looking for the best submissions they can find.

No. They have every issue mapped out for a good, mmmm, at least four months out, would be my guess. Certainly for the longer pieces, and those may be assigned six months out or longer. They are certainly not scrambling every month to fill any big holes, and I would bet a $3 donut that they have a big pile of non-time sensitive Talk of The Town/poems/other short pieces. They are absolutely not calling Atul Gawande and going "Hey, can you write us a piece for the issue that's going to print next week? Thanks!"

The New Yorker's long articles on politics and policy do not come over the transom. They are commissioned.
posted by rtha at 8:13 PM on June 17, 2011


Women submit much less often to prestigious publications because they are less arrogant and confident than men, generally.

Maias, that's a great point, and one that's reinforced by sevenyearlurk's link upthread:
During spring’s endless industry parties and launches I watch male writers navigate rooms with a fearlessness and comfort their female peers do not. It’s actually beautiful to behold; their whisky-drenched casual discourse, their freedom from consequence, their suit jackets, scarves and virile come-ons. Everything about them — their demeanor, their conversation, the ease which they take up space — suggests they deserve to be both there and on the page. The female writers I speak to are afraid to pitch to magazines or publishers, afraid to submit their finished work, afraid to promote themselves, afraid to get in the face of someone who might hand them an opportunity. Male writers seem to start in a place of entitlement, while female writers take decades of fighting and proving to earn it. One female writer I encountered said that she didn’t go looking for attention for a recent piece because she believed that to be selfish, an odd statement in an industry that now relies heavily on an author’s ability to sell both themselves and their work.
(emphasis mine).
posted by en forme de poire at 9:53 PM on June 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


"Please don't do this. It adds nothing of value to the world or to the thread."

It made me smile, which I consider valuable.

The very notion that these magazines discriminate against women when choosing what to publish is ridiculous and has zero evidence to back it up. There are a multitude of reasons for these numbers, and none of them are the fault of the editorial staff of these publications.

To that Hayes crank - fuck off and keep gender quotas away from quality journalism. This entire topic is oversimplistic, reactionary bullshit that's about as intellectually honest and rigorous as a Glenn Beck Blackboard Weep-a-thon.
posted by unigolyn at 12:36 AM on June 18, 2011


en forme de poire - explain the emphasis.

The entirety of what you quoted was speaking about attitudes of the journalists themselves, whereas that one emphasized snippet seems to imply some sort of systemic bias that rewards men and discourages women. Unless you consider competition to be inherently male-biased, I don't see where anyone has shown this to be true.
posted by unigolyn at 12:40 AM on June 18, 2011


To that Hayes crank - fuck off and keep gender quotas away from quality journalism. This entire topic is oversimplistic, reactionary bullshit that's about as intellectually honest and rigorous as a Glenn Beck Blackboard Weep-a-thon.

Is it your position that we should be having a less simplistic and more rigorous discussion of the problem of gender disparity in long-form journalism, or that the 'problem' is non-existent and the status quo is just fine?
posted by Catseye at 1:52 AM on June 18, 2011


Obviously, those are generalizations and there are plenty of us who are arrogant and self-promoting.

Got it in before me, huh? ;)
posted by PeterMcDermott at 4:48 AM on June 18, 2011


During spring’s endless industry parties and launches I watch male writers navigate rooms with a fearlessness and comfort their female peers do not. It’s actually beautiful to behold; their whisky-drenched casual discourse, their freedom from consequence, their suit jackets, scarves and virile come-ons. Everything about them — their demeanor, their conversation, the ease which they take up space — suggests they deserve to be both there and on the page. The female writers I speak to are afraid to pitch to magazines or publishers, afraid to submit their finished work, afraid to promote themselves, afraid to get in the face of someone who might hand them an opportunity. Male writers seem to start in a place of entitlement, while female writers take decades of fighting and proving to earn it. One female writer I encountered said that she didn’t go looking for attention for a recent piece because she believed that to be selfish, an odd statement in an industry that now relies heavily on an author’s ability to sell both themselves and their work.

The bias here is that the writer thinks that this really is easy for men to do. It is easy to say "look at them, they have it easy". But that is almost never the truth. People want power (and money) because they DON'T have it easy; they strive for power so they can have it easy.

Look at the Jack Donaghy character: from one perspective, he is powerful white male with privilege. But look closer, and you see someone whose life has been consumed with trying to gain and maintain that privilege, who lives at the beck and call of his superiors

For god's sake, half the problems in this world are caused by people picking based on other influences besides merit and talent, whether it is sex, race or whatever. Sarah Palin, Michael Steele, George W. Bush, Reagan. It is bad when it is done for white guys, it is bad when it is done for anyone else too.

I guess we think these magazine editors are stupid. That they would sacrifice profits in favor of maintaining the "boys club". If that's true, then the winning play is to start a magazine that caters to this audience that the boys club is ignoring.

Discrimination exists because the discriminators perceive a value in it. I don't see how this changes that perception.
posted by gjc at 8:14 AM on June 18, 2011


What? Systemic issues such as racism and sexism often perpetuate themselves because people don't notice that they're happening and their unconscious biases rise to the fore. I don't think anyone is under the impression that the New Yorker editorial board is sitting around saying 'Let's keep those women down!' It isn't about a 'boys club,' it's about raising awareness of unconscious biases.

This complaint is not tantamount to a conspiracy theory.
posted by shakespeherian at 9:06 AM on June 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


The entirety of what you quoted was speaking about attitudes of the journalists themselves, whereas that one emphasized snippet seems to imply some sort of systemic bias that rewards men and discourages women. Unless you consider competition to be inherently male-biased, I don't see where anyone has shown this to be true.

unigolyn, I read the emphasized snippet as having more to do with states of mind than anything else -- I think the author is saying that the men she's encountered have a greater propensity to believe and act as though they will be successful, whereas the women she's known have to really work to internalize this set of beliefs and that way of interacting with the world. So I think it's a more insidious type of systemic bias, something more like stereotype vulnerability.
posted by en forme de poire at 9:20 AM on June 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


To be clear, I don't think that this difference in attitudes should be interpreted as laying the blame on women, or that editors are powerless to help correct the problem (link is to an example from the scientific world).
posted by en forme de poire at 9:26 AM on June 18, 2011


The ratio of submissions is about 80/20 male/female at the top op-ed pages—if you'd read my link you would know that ;-) It's similar at magazines on the level of the NY'er, maybe 70/30 despite the fact that there are probably more female writers than males.

That's why Katie founded the op-ed project, because she read those numbers and figured that if we get more women submitting there, we'd find out if the problem is that women suck as writers or if we're just under-confident.
posted by Maias at 1:01 PM on June 18, 2011


« Older 35 cover videos of Radiohead's Paranoid Android mi...  |  What lives in the rainforest, ... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments