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Pickle Me This

February 8, 2009

The dearth of female names

7 February 2009

Dear ***, Editor, **** Magazine

This letter is not intended for publication, and no doubt it will read as such, being neither particularly witty or erudite, or especially timely. But I do think it is fair to write to you and explain why I will not be renewing my subscription to **** after three years.

It has been nearly a year since I began counting the number of women writers amongst your contributors. Initially the dearth of female names was more peculiar than troubling. I was unsure of how a general interest/current affairs magazine could be very general or current while (very nearly) only publishing pieces written by men. But when each subsequent issue appeared, usually with less women than the one before it (and when the women did appear, it was rarely for any feature of significant length), I began to be disturbed.

Either you’re not interested in commissioning women writers, or you haven’t noticed the imbalance in your issues, and I’m really not sure which of these possibilities is the worst.

Do know that I’m not counting for counting’s sake. I am not convinced that there is such a thing as “women’s writing”, but I am sure that the lack of women’s voices in your pages has made your magazine less interesting. I used to make a point of reading every issue in its entirety, regardless of my interest, because the writing was good, and there was always something for me to learn. But lately this has felt like a chore, and I don’t feel I get the payoff.

Please take a look at even your cover designs over the past year, take a look at your features. I am sure the lack of diversity amongst your contributors is the reason **** has come to resemble a Men’s Magazine proper. And I know this is the reason that I, as a female subscriber, no longer feel like it’s a magazine for me. I must not be the only one.

Thank you for your time,

Kerry Clare

2 thoughts on “The dearth of female names”

  1. writer_guy says:

    I imagine you’ve already seen this, but perhaps some of your readers haven’t. It’s a Heather Mallick column from two years ago that has the same (and legitimate) complaint: http://www.cbc.ca/news/viewpoint/vp_mallick/20070223.html. The crazy thing is that journalism schools (and university programs in general) tend to be graduating more women than men. Will this eventually be reflected in more female bylines? One can only hope.

  2. Kerry says:

    Thanks for sharing that. Strange to me that the issue is so divisive. But all the same I’ll keeping stamping my lady-sized foot.

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