Perhaps I should start going by Joe.

The Count 2010 counts female and male authorship in various influential publications (via Jenniey Tallman‘s Facebook feed). These numbers are pretty depressing – just as a sample, London Review of Books reviewed 68 female authors to 195 male authors in 2010; Tin House published 73 women to 226 men; only Poetry crept over the 50% mark for female authorship, and only for interviews (11 women interviewed to 9 men).

What’s going on here? Are there more male writers than female ones? (A commenter on the Jezebel article on the linked article above mentions that 2009’s English Lit PhD recipients were 63% female – not that there’s a one-to-one map between writers and English Lit PhD recipients, but it’s suggestive that, at the very least, women aren’t less interested in literature. Further, Jezebel points to VIDA counts Publishers Weekly in 2010, where works of fiction are reviewed in nearly equal numbers by sex, so it would appear women publish about as many books.) Are men submitting more than women to magazines, and so achieving parity would require figuring out what discourages women from submitting? (Is the problem the “there, there, dear”ing that is so often directed at women writers?) Are editors rejecting women more often than men? Do we need to reassess our cultural tendency to see women as accessories? Is all of this a symptom of a larger societal problem that can’t be fixed absent fixing the larger problem?

Is my a priori assumption that modern female writers are, or have the potential to be, just as good as modern male writers even justified?

I tend to think so, but then, a girl like me would.

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