Whether they write novels or cover stories or op-eds, even the most talented women writers often aren’t validated in the same way that their male counterparts are. While there are few Neanderthals who would publicly say that the byline gap in literary journals and periodicals is due to the fact that women can’t write as well as men, the usual justifications include shrugging dismissals like, ‘We don’t get enough quality submissions by women.’ When I pointed out the 5:29 byline ratio of the fall 2006 issue of the Virginia Quarterly Review on my website, for instance, the journal’s editor, Ted Genoways, commented on the post that, ‘Unfortunately, the disparity in our issues is, I think, more reflective of a symptom than a root cause; there simply seem to be fewer women who are freelance journalists, travel writers, and political pundits — three areas that now largely compose our editorial content. As a result, the good ones are in high demand and often out of our price range.’
The byline gap closes in the bookstore: Women publish fiction, poetry, and nonfiction at a rate that’s representative of their actual numbers. But this is no meritocratic utopia — women’s writing is often met with dismissive assumptions.” —Anna Clark, in Bitch‘s “The Ambition Condition: Women, Writing, and the Problem of Success.” Read something I wrote about this at Autostraddle.com.