2014 VIDA Count Announced
9th Apr 2015
Last year, for example, saw The New York Review of Books publish 677 men contributors and reviews by men combined to 242 women. The London Review of Books had an equally large divide with 527 men featured to 151 women – further exposing the prejudice exercised by one of the most influential publications in writing.
Conversely, several major publications, including Harper’s and The New Republic have made good on promises to close the gender divide, having increased their women’s contributions by 6 percent and 7 percent respectively since last year. Boston Review went a step further, publishing more women reviewers than men in 2014. The overall women count in The New York Times Book Review, which has consistently fallen short of gender parity, ranking around 38 percent until 2013 when it hit 45 percent, has inched closer to its male counterparts in the last year at 47 percent.
Unfortunately, several publications failed to make any increase in the amount of women contributing to their reviews, including major magazines such as The Paris Review and The Times Literary Supplement.
A fact conspicuously absent from most media coverage on the most recent count, is that the 2014 VIDA count involved a second count dedicated to women of colour – though VIDA themselves admitted that these results are problematic. They deemed themselves ‘not qualified to determine and assign race to any writer’, so instead, offered contributors the chance to identify themselves. Whilst possibly the best means to avoid offence, it led to the results of the Women of Colour VIDA count being inconclusive.
However, the inclusion of such a count indicates a concerted effort to address continued racial discrimination throughout the publishing industry, and as Erin Belieu states, the goal of the count ‘has always been consciousness not quotas’. In this respect, VIDA has succeeded and as their website states: ‘no system of bias, with all of its tendriled attitudes and practices, can be fully uncovered by any study; only people can speak up in the face of how those attitudes manifest and are realized’.
What do you think of the results?