Staggeringly Few Women Are Behind Bylines At Top Publications
2:30 pm, March 9th | by Amy Tennery
Just a little over two months ago, our site was faced with a conundrum. The only female candidate left in the 2012 presidential race, Michele Bachmann, had dropped out. And, up until that point, the developments that had anything to do with women were often revelations of some male candidates’extramarital excursions. We’re a website about women and there we were, trying to cover an election that had little to do with women at all.
And then it happened. By “it” I mean the slow-burning inferno that is the contraception mandate — and the one sentence (courtesy of Congress member Carolyn Maloney) that changed the debate forever:
“Where are the women?”
(That sound you heard was a million t-shirt decal presses going off at women’s colleges across the country.)
Suddenly, we were off to the races. As New York Times columnist Gail Collins put it at the time, “We seem to be talking about women, women, women.” Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards remarked on The Daily Show that it’s “absolutely incredible to see that birth control itself is a topic of political debate.”
On a certain level, Richards seemed to imply that women’s access to reproductive health care shouldn’t be debated at all. But her words underscored something about women and politics: It’s remarkable that we’re even talking about it!
And a big part of that is based on who controls the media.
As a Columbia Journalism Review story penned by Erin Siegal this week points out, there are staggeringly few women behind the bylines we read:
“[There is] an ugly, unchanging truth: in 2011, the number of articles published by women in top thought-leader magazines was significantly less than the number of articles published by men.”
According to the data Siegal compiled (sourced from VIDA: Women in Literary Arts), women wrote just 64 articles in The Atlantic last year, compared to 184 from men. And at Harper’s women accounted for just 16.66 percent of bylines. The vast majority of big-time publications follow suit.
It’s no wonder that a man calling a woman a “slut” became a catalyzing moment for women and politics this year. There weren’t enough of us to catalyze on our own.
With this in mind — and in honor of Women’s History Month — you can find me on a panel next Monday, March 12 at 6:30 pm at the Lower East Side Tenement Museum for a discussion on women in the media.
The panel, “Women in the Newsroom: From the Fashion Pages to the Front Lines” will bring together ProPublica reporters Kim Barker, Nikole Hannah-Jones and ProPublica Editor Robin Fields (and, yes, me) for a panel moderated by ABC Legal Analyst (and my boss) Dan Abrams, the author of “Man Down: Proof Beyond a Reasonable Doubt That Women Are Better.”
So, if you agree with what I just said, hate what I just said — or maybe you just want to see my boss grill me in front of a live audience? — you should join us for this free talk. Check out all the details here.