The state of book criticism is getting a mixed review on gender parity.
A new survey of top literary publications finds that the ratio of women to men ranges from roughly equal in The New York Times Book Review and Granta to men substantially outnumbering women in The Atlantic, the Paris Review and other publications. The so-called VIDA Count was launched in 2010 and helped spark an industry discussion by showing the prevalence of men among authors of books reviewed and among the critics assigned.
VIDA: Women in Literary Arts, a nonprofit feminist organization based in New York, announced the 2016 results Wednesday. According to VIDA, Granta published more women than men for the first time since the survey started. The Nation, meanwhile, gave twice as many bylines to men than to women and overall ran substantially fewer reviews by women than the year before.
"A few that made strides fell back while others improved," Amy King, editor in chief of the VIDA Review, told The Associated Press. "As with any activism, we have to maintain a consistent presence to foster lasting change."
Several publications have narrowed the gap since 2010. In the first VIDA Count, men represented in The New Republic outnumbered women by more than 5-to-1. By 2016, the percentage of women was around 40 percent. Men outnumbered women in The New Yorker by more than 2-to-1 in 2010. Last year, the percentage of women was nearly 40 percent. The London Review of Books has seen little change over the years, with the percentage of men at around 80 percent.