Some Thoughts on VIDA and Bloggers

VIDA-count

The VIDA Count, a survey of women’s representation in major literary journals, came out last week, but it has taken me a little while to form some thoughts on it.

As usual, the numbers do not look great. VIDA breaks them down multiple ways, looking at the number of female authors represented in the pages of venerable literary journals, as well as who has written the reviews. Not surprisingly, men – white men – are overwhelmingly represented, leaving the rest of us to sit on the sidelines. In spite of the fact the publishing and bookselling industries are made up of mostly females, those in positions of power remain male. More importantly, the editorial control of literary outlets continues to have a strong male bias.

All of this can seem rather bleak. But then I realized the power that we, as bloggers, wield

  1. Book Bloggers are overwhelmingly female. In fact, I have to actively seek out male bloggers just to give me a different perspective. But the bottom line is, on the bookternet we control the conversation.
  2. People are increasingly looking to the internet to get their news. Obviously this does not just apply to the book world. The internet opens up a world of options to people seeking information. These people are looking for different voices and viewpoints. The internet has come to fill in the gap left by traditional media. In terms of books, look at the proliferation of blogs related to YA, romance and fantasy, genres not generally covered by the mainstream media.

WHAT ARE WE TO DO?

  1. Be the change you want to seeYou got it. That means looking at your own reviewing practices and strive for gender parity. After my first year of blogging I looked at my first 100 reviews – 59% were by women. Hear that NYT? Yeah, that’s me tooting my own horn.
  2. Shout it out. Let the world know what you are doing. Use #ReadWomen2014 whenever and wherever you can. This is something I have to work on myself.

Remember, even though we cannot control what gets published and by whom, we can control what we choose to read and report about. Make your voices heard and let your opinions be known.

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10 Comments

  1. Couldn’t agree more. When I decided on 10 books for March Madness, I made the choice to have 50% women authors in the pile. I think I read quite a lot of work by women, but you’re right, we have to make a noise about it. use #readwomen2014 on twitter and be more conscious of what we read.

  2. I had never really thought about the role of bloggers in this. I read and reviewed books written by women for the majority last year (I always seem to read more women than men) but it didn’t really click how it links to the VIDA count. I’m definitely going to start making more of big deal about it. I love to follow #readwomen2014 on twitter! Great post 🙂

  3. I think this is the right response to VIDA. We as bloggers do make an impact on books, so if we advocate for the authors we love that will make a difference. I usually read slightly more than half books by women without even really trying. That makes me happy, and makes be confident that it is possible to have gender parity.

  4. I’m currently at 70% female authors this year, so I might need to work to balance it out the other way! As Cindie at Nonfictionado pointed out though, the ratio for non-fiction is likely to be different and in my case, it’s definitely more male author biased, so I’d like to try to improve on that the rest of the year 🙂

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