Friday March 11th, 2011

Second Pass Gets the VIDA Treatment

Later today, I’ll be posting an interview about the recent VIDA statistics with someone who spent several years assigning reviews at one of the magazines in the study’s crosshairs. In the meantime, the statistics inspired me to look at the numbers for my own site. Of the 28 contributors listed on the home page, 13 are women. Of the 24 of those who have already written for the site (I’m working on the other four), the gender balance is an even 12-12. (There have been many contributors not listed on the home page. The reasons for this range from arbitrary to nonexistent.)

If you’re looking for balance in the actual reviews, the statistics don’t look great at first blush. There have been 89 Circulating reviews, 58 written by men and 31 by women. In the Backlist section, 24 of the 37 pieces have been written by men.

The misleading factor — particularly in Circulating — is me.

I think it’s only fair to remove me from the equation for this purpose, since I write more than my share of the reviews — partly because it’s my shop and partly because I like to keep things (relatively) updated when there are lulls in contributions from others. (At a one-man operation with no budget like this one, gender equality and a thousand other issues take a back seat to the simple attempt to avoid radio silence.) I wrote 22 of those Circulating reviews, so if you remove those from the tally, it’s 36-31 in favor of men. I wrote five Backlist pieces, so that score moves to 19-13.

Authors being reviewed is not so easy to gloss: Combining the two main review sections (and not counting the books in group features, like the one published this week), there have been 89 books written by men reviewed, compared to 39 written by women.