Posted by: Glenda Bailey-Mershon | February 10, 2011



The web is abuzz with talk of Vida’s count of women published in literary magazines and review journals. As you might intuitively guess, the numbers are not good for women. Some of them are shocking, such as how few women are reviewed in the New York Times Review of books. (Think about that next time you rush to pick up that section of the newspaper lovingly called The Grey Lady. Grey it may be, but perhaps not a lady, or even female, according to Vida’s numbers.)

Oh––VIDA is the name given to a relatively new organization of women writers founded by a group including Whiting Award winner Cate Marvin; Erin Belieu, Director of Florida State University’s Creative Writing Program, herself a winner of several important awards; and other writers. All but one person on their Board of Directors is an academic professor or university administrator. Just setting the field.

Below are some links to the original Count and a couple of responses to it. However, I’d like to change the topic to “Why doesn’t Jane get more support?”

There are only a handful of women’s literary organizations that expressly address the career concerns of women writers. Jane’s Stories Press Foundation (Jane) has been around longer than most. Jane is unique in that it addresses women writers of all experience levels and specifically provides opportunities for women to get their work into print with much better odds than those of the various publications mentioned in Vida’s report. Also, Jane’s mission specifically includes promoting diversity in all ways in the publishing industry. We do not require you have an MFA, or even sound as if you do, to be published by us; we want excellent work. For writers who are already accomplished and well-published, we offer many opportunities to grow your readership.

It is a long-known and well-documented fact (by the NEA and others) that women comprise most of the purchasers of all literature, including literary fiction and poetry. So why aren’t women buying our books in sufficient numbers to help us provide more support to women through significant prize money and publishing opportunities? Instead, we are scraping together money for our next anthology and our Board members and volunteers have to mostly pay their own way to venues such as AWP. Virtually every cent of every donation, workshop fee, or book purchased from Jane goes directly to supporting women writers. Why aren’t women writers rushing to support this foundation?

My dream is that every woman who is shocked by VIDA’s Count will buy one book from Jane’s Stories this year. What we could do with that! Why, we might even be able to pay our printing bill without borrowing money. And we could add considerably to the more than 200 authors already in print through Jane. On the drawing board: a chapbook series and a new literary journal expressly for writing the illuminates women’s lives.

Want to help? Ask for our books at your local feminist store, or check them out at Or send a donation to JSPF, 5500 N. 50 W, Fremont, IN 46737. Oh, and if you are part of another prominent women’s lit organization and you haven’t answered our call offering support and collaboration, please do that, too. This problem of women breaking into print and being adequately reviewed is bigger than any one organization can handle.

The Count 2010s
“Numbers don’t lie.” “What counts is the bottom line.”

Women at Work
A new tally shows how few female writers appear in magazines.
By Meghan O’Rourke

Literature’s gender gap
Women are underrepresented in literary publishing because men aren’t interested in what they have to say


  1. I guess little has changed for women writers! Arghh. Right now I am not articulate enough to say anything else

  2. Except that Jane and Vida are here to help out!

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