Friday, April 29, 2011

National Poetry Month: Guest Blogger Hillary Dorwart on VIDA

As National Poetry Month draws to a close, I hope you’ve enjoyed our guest posts as much as I have. Thank you so much to everyone who has participated and shared their wisdom. Three cheers to poetry!

Thank you to my friend and poet Hillary Dorwart for this month’s final post. Hillary is currently in her last semester at Bennington College where she is working towards an MFA in Creative Writing.

Dear readers: I wanted to use Chloe’s blog as a platform to raise more awareness for an organization I use as a resource for learning about the issues of women in writing – VIDA. The site poses this predicament: many women are writing, so why is the gender not better represented?

It is easy in the Internet age to hastily post something online that is not well thought out or respectful – which hurts the integrity of the statement and opinion of the person who posts. VIDA has done a very good job of positing thoughtful discussions, interviews and panels about gender imbalance in all aspects of a writing ecosystem: publishing, marketing, reviewing, awarding, etc.

Recently, they audited fourteen journals and counted: 1. The amount of women who were published vs. men 2. Counted how many women were reviewed vs. men and 3. Counted how many of the reviewers were women vs. men. You can view the pie charts they created for each finding from each publication. It’s helpful to have these kind of solid facts to guide a dialogue and give validity to the presupposed idea that women are published less in journals.

Reading the responses on Vida’s Facebook page and homepage, some women and men were surprised by just how large the disparity was and others were not surprised at all. How surprised are you? Why do you think the numbers are mapped out this way?

I think both genders should question why the numbers read so bleakly for women writers. Do women submit as much? Do journals reach out to more men than women? What decisions do women and men make that contribute to this gender inequity? It's important to ask these kinds of questions.

Visit Vidaweb or their Facebook page and join the conversation and keep up with the current news of women writing. You can gain a lot of wisdom from the life and career experiences of others to help inform how you make decisions in your own writing sphere. 

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