Being a woman editor

After my earlier post about being a woman poet, I thought about my role as a woman editor.

Vida tirelessly counts the rates of publication between men and women in some of the most prestigious literary venues. Their 2011 count, located here, shows a huge disparity. Regardless of the potential reasons (“women write less,” “women submit less,” “women don’t write as well as men,” “editors purposefully choose work from more men than women”), the numbers are startling.

For the Spring 2012 issue of The Pinch which I was Managing Editor for, we published poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction from fourteen women and fifteen men. We published twenty-three pieces from women and seventeen pieces from men (this includes if we accepted two or more poems, fiction stories, or creative nonfiction essays from one writer). Of the art and photography we accepted, all were from men.

Of the ten major editor positions for the staff at the time (fall 2011), six were held by women (editor-in-chief, managing editor, assistant managing editor, senior fiction editor, fiction editor, and creative nonfiction editor). The strongest positions in the journal (editor-in-chief, managing and assistant managing editor) were all held by women. While we never looked at or discussed a work on the basis of the gender of its author, we did publish work from nearly as many women as men, and that somehow must be connected to the fact that many of us were and are strong women writers ourselves.

Other journals circumvent the subjective world of publishing by having only women editors and accepting work from only women writers. Many are listed here, and Southern Women’s Review should be included on that list as well. I have mixed feelings about “women” journals mostly because they are undervalued and underappreciated. No women’s-only journal has the same prestige as The New Yorker.

What are your thoughts?

9 thoughts on “Being a woman editor

  1. Thank you for the informative post. I don’t know much about the world of publishing…so the only opinion I have had lately relating to writing and gender is that since blogging I am suprised sometimes by the men who do seem to enjoy my work that I have labled “women’s intersts.”

      1. Maybe I am just old…20 years since I have been to a “women’s studies” class…so I have been tagging poetry in my blog that have to do with a hero’s journey told from a woman’s perspective…”women’s interest”…but finding that heroines seem to have universal appeal…eyeopening maybe just for me.

  2. Those numbers are confounding. I’ve never really thought about the disparity between the sexes as far as publishing goes. I will admit though, the women that I consistently read and come back to have a strong, almost masculine voice present in their writing. Reading journal submissions, most of the ones that I have liked have come from males (out of happenstance). I think that females often write about subject matter that is harder to master and often comes across as sentimental (love, dating, loss of love, motherhood, marriage), or worse, chick lit-esque. I have a very limited scope, though, because I am a rookie at this. My disclaimer about this is that my favorite writers are women.

    1. Interesting comment, Erin. I wonder if we’re taught to value “masculine” writing more, since it’s much of what we read in school from the literary “canon,” hence why it might be easy to see “feminine” subject matter as sentimental”?

  3. i read another article recently tackling the subject of women’s interest magazines…i’m not sure how i feel about them–i’ve published in Room Magazine before.

    on a related note, what are your thoughts on poetry contests that only allow women to enter? i was doing some research into them, looking for places to possibly send my manuscript, and i came up with a short list:

    so, unfair advantage? a needed outlet for women writers? would you consider these contests less prestigious?

    by the way, i’m glad i found your blog; its good to read what other poets are thinking about topics that have been in my mind the past few years

    1. You know, I’m really glad you posted this link about women’s only contests. I’m going to be looking to send a manuscript out soon, and I never even considered that those might be out there.

      I’ve heard the Patricia Dobler Poetry Award is pretty prestigious. The other ones I haven’t heard of. It doesn’t strike me as an unfair advantage, but I would guess that most of these have small print runs, which means less publicity.

  4. Though I’ve never seen the numbers before, I’m unsurprised by this post. The “literary” establishment has been so long dominated by men (centuries) that I had a gut instinct this might be the case. I’ve even considered writing under a gender neutral pen name in an attempt to circumvent the odds, though that’s hardly an empowering or twenty-first century approach to the issue.

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