Why the Submissions Numbers Don’t Count
Whenever VIDA publishes a Count, or shares its pie charts, readers observe that men and women submit to magazines, journals, and publishing houses at different rates, and that this might inform the gender ratios we observe.…
When we suggest that the submission ratio is important, we assume that the quality of each gender’s submissions will be identical.… I’d be quite surprised if my hypothetical study found the quality of men’s and women’s submission piles to be equal… I find women submit more consistently publishable work with regard to quality and appropriateness for the given venue. Men are more likely to submit unfinished work and work that doesn’t suit the publication for which I’m reading.
“We did a thorough analysis of our internal submission numbers and found that the unsolicited numbers are evenly split, while the solicited (agented, previous contributors, etc.) were 67/33 male to female. We found that women contributors and women we rejected with solicitations to resubmit were five times less likely to submit than their male counterparts. So we basically stopped asking men, because we knew they were going to submit anyway, and at the same time made a concerted effort to re-ask women to contribute. We also adjusted our Lost & Found section, which featured short pieces on under-appreciated writers or books. We had been asking 50/50 writers, but the subjects were coming back 80/20 male to female, meaning that both men and women were writing about men versus women writers. We then started asking both male and female writers if there are any women writers they would like to champion. It has been a total editorial team effort, and each editorial meeting we take a look at our upcoming issues to see where we are for balance. Again, these are all simple solutions. What I found interesting was that we had all assumed that we were gender balanced, when in fact we weren’t. Now, with a concerted effort, we know that we are.”
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