March 2, 2012

WAYBACK MACHINE: Women and The New Yorker


The internet is atwitter over the findings of the newest VIDA survey, which looked at the representation of “Women In Literary Arts” and found, once again, that things are far from equal at the most prestigious magazines, especially at outlets like Harper’s, The Atlantic, The London Review of Books and The New Yorker.

In a post at The New York Observer, Foster Kramer calls attention to a tweet by Adam Clark Estes: “Who knew the @NewYorker contributor list was such a bro-fest?” Kramer finds the VIDA result interesting in that liberal publications like The New Yorker seem to be the worst offenders of gender bias in publishing, writing “One would think that the people in charge of these publications are ostensibly those least likely to perpetuate narrow-mindedness (inherent in any gender majority). In fact, that could not be further from the truth.”

The VIDA findings probably don’t come as a surprise to MobyLives founder Dennis Loy Johnson, who—after reviewing a year of New Yorker content in a 2003 investigation (“The Talk of the Rest of the Town”)—found that:

There have even been issues of The New Yorker this year where the magazine’s table of contents featured no women at all, or where the only contribution by a woman was a single poem. There hasn’t been much fiction by women, but when there is, it’s usually by a big star. And by far, the preponderance of contributions written by women so far this year have come from staffers filing reviews in the back section, as opposed to being featured in a star turn in the features section.

The full results from Johnson’s survey are posted here, on an earlier incarnation of this site.

Kelly Burdick is the executive editor of Melville House.