I’m more than half done with my survey in response to the VIDA Count. I am tallying the editorial staffs at nearly 300 literary journals to determine the percentages of men and women.
My admittedly unscientific survey is being done in response to VIDA’s unadmittedly unscientific survey, which selected a dozen or so prestigious magazines and reported the percentages of men published versus women published, with stories and articles by men significantly outpacing those by women.
Reading their post, one can’t help but get the feeling their small sampling of the publishing industry is intended to represent the whole, and more important, that their rather random results confirm gender bias in the publishing industry.
Such an approach is often employed by special interests—one or a few examples are held up as universal truth. Statistically speaking, that approach is invalid.
In the worst cases of statistical abuse, the hoped-for result of a survey is decided before the work is undertaken. This leads to a selection of sources that tend to confirm the hypothesis. I sincerely hope that is not the case with the VIDA count.
If the women at VIDA really want to make a valid statement about the publishing industry, they will have to go much more in depth. As many have pointed out, the percentage of men or women published may be related to the percentages of men and women who submit. And who gets published might, just might, have something to do with the quality and value of the work (at least that’s what the journals and magazines claim in their editorial practices).
For my count, I seek statistics on the gender percentages on literary journal staffs. These are the people who determine who gets published from the submissions they receive. See my previous post for the methods used to determine the count.
Oh yes, the update.
More than 150 journals have been surveyed, with total staff counted at 1255. This includes large journals with staffs of 20-30, and small journals that are run by one person.
Senior staff = 529; women = 279 or 52.7%; men = 250 or 47.3%
Other staff = 726; women = 462 or 63.6%; men = 264 or 36.4%
Total staff = 1255; women = 741 or 59.0%; men = 514 or 41.0%
Another 100+ journals to count. Give me a week or so to finish and I’ll have a few theories for you.