Findings from the 2017 VIDA Count

June 22, 2018

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VIDA, a feminist nonprofit aimed at fighting the lack of gender parity in contemporary literature, has released their 2017 VIDA Count, which tallies the gender disparity in major literary publications and book reviews. The VIDA Count examines thirty-nine journals and periodicals to provide a numerical breakdown of their demographic representations.

The 2017 Main VIDA Count found only two of fifteen major literary publications, Granta and Poetry, published 50 percent women writers. Eight of fifteen, a simple majority, published less than 40 percent women. A notable change in gender parity consisted of the The New York Review of Books, which dropped to the count’s lowest rank at 23.3 percent publications from women. Boston Review also dropped nearly ten points to 37.8 percent in 2017.

“This is a good reminder that achieving gender parity is not a one-time goal,” wrote Amy King and Sarah Clark, members of the VIDA Board of Directors.

Some publications were able to show significant improvements in this year’s count. The Paris Review, a literary staple of the US, increased they’re representation of women writers to 42.7 percent, up from 35 percent in 2016. Tin House also managed to hover around 50 percent, dropping 0.9 points to 49.7 percent.

The 2017 Larger Literary Landscape VIDA Count, which examined twenty-four smaller and independent presses and publications, showed a heartening fifteen published at least 50 percent writing from women. Here are the names of the fifteen: A Public Space, Agni, Conjunctions, Copper Nickel, Fence, Jubilat, Kenyon Review, Missouri Review, New American Writing, New England Review, Ninth Letter, Prairie Schooner, The Cincinnati Review, The Normal School, and Virginia Quarterly Review.

Three of the twenty-four publications examined in the Larger Literary Landscape VIDA Count published less than 39 percent: Harvard Review, n+1, and The Believer.

The VIDA Count also examined the publishing representation of writers of color, writers with disabilities, noncisgender writers, and other historically marginalized demographics in publishing.

“Many with relative power will claim censorship because they feel that only marginalized people are making it in the literary world–which is not true, as this year’s VIDA Count can help illuminate,” wrote King and Clark. “So, while the number of women and nonbinary people published in these top-tier publications may not yet be on our side, the number of us no longer willing to accept the normalcy of these frankly discriminating publishing practices is on our side.”

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