Women in Publishing Still an Uphill Climb
The 2016 VIDA count was recently released by VIDA Women in Literary Arts. It's a semi-formal survey of how much exposure women (and now other socio-demographic groups) have in literary journals and the publishing industry.
The survey reports on women authors, published stories, reviews about women authors, reviews written by women, etc.
I suggest you go straight to the source as the organization does a much better job at explaining their mission and findings than I can in one blog post.
It has been widely reported over the past few years that women read more than men and women buy the majority of books. At the recent James River Writers (JRW) conference held in Richmond, Virginia, I heard time and again from the industry professionals how many women were working in the publishing industry as literary agents, editors, publicists, etc. But, where are our words?
Do we have to #me too on our social media feeds in order to be heard these days? Show ourselves as victims in order to considered? Do we have to lean in, break ceilings, floors, and walls? It's getting better everyone says. Better than what?
The VIDA Count survey reports:
"Of the twenty-three publications in our 2016 Larger Literary Landscape (LLL) VIDA Count, 11 of them published as many bylines by women writers as men, or more! Unfortunately, this suggests a decrease in women’s share of the pie overall from last year. In 2015, 58% of counted publications demonstrated gender parity, while this year, only 48% of counted publications published as many bylines by women writers as men, or more."
VIDA, to its credit, choose the high road saying we have to celebrate the 11 publications that have given women at least as many bylines.
Why do we have to pat them on the head? To me, that's like excusing fathers who say they are babysitting their own children. You don't babysit your own child, you care for them. It's like women thanking men for doing the laundry, cleaning the dishes, taking out the trash, cooking dinner, diapering a child. What? If we don't acknowledge these fantastic acts of mediocrity they will never happen again? If we don't give them a high five will their female bylines slip again?
I feel the VIDA Count is important. We have our eye on you literary world. But the literary world should have its eyes on women, their market. Their marketing strength a.ka. dollars. They should cultivate this lucrative audience. They should celebrate our words. They should demand them.