As a freelance writer, there’s no overstating how sweet a new byline is, and how hard-won. So naturally I’m intrigued by what some in the industry are calling a “gender divide” in terms of female vs male bylines.
This year’s finalists for the American Society of Magazine Editors break down like so: 12 women, 37 men (and 1 piece without a byline). There are NO women finalists at all in the major reporting categories: Reporting, Feature Writing, Profile Writing, Essays/Criticism and Columns/Commentary.
There’s no doubt that with the 2012 election heating up and recent attempts to legislate women’s reproductive rights cooling down (sort of) that the “war on women” is real. But is that what’s going on here? Are we looking for meaning where there is none?
Consider the recent headline for a piece by the NY Daily News book blog PageViews about the women (or lack thereof) nominated for ASME awards: “Women can’t write, says ASME.” Um, actually, that’s NOT what the ASME is saying, and we – especially women – need to stop thinking that’s what hinted, even at our most primal, knee-jerk level.
If there are fewer pieces bylined by women than by men, naturally there will be even fewer picks for the one of the industry’s highest honors. So, why aren’t more women writing? Are women writing less because they can’t, or perhaps because they think they can’t? Well, it hasn’t stopped us yet. So, what’s the real issue?
And as a writer, I get the draw of a really good, eye-catching headline. Good one, NY Daily News. You did get my attention. But please, let’s stop creating issues where there are none.