Brevity, All the Young Dudes, & the VIDA Count

February 14, 2011 § 5 Comments

We took the VIDA challenge and conducted our own count.  The result?  Well, if we have a gender imbalance, it seems to harm the dudes, not the ladies.  Over the last five issues, we’ve published 66 brief essays, and of these, 39 were written by female authors, and 27 by male authors.

For technical reasons (we recently switched from one submission management system to another) we couldn’t gender-test the submissions that resulted in those 66 acceptances, so instead we chose a contiguous block of 100 submissions from the last two months.  Of those, the mix was almost even: 52% female, 48% male.  Only a few submission were indeterminable: the name and cover note did not reveal gender.  We just didn’t count those.

If you are a scientist or statistician, you are likely horrified by our methodology right now, but we did our best.

So what can we conclude from this?  Do we have a bias that favors the female voice?  Do women compress better, writing sharper brief essays?

We’ll take that up at our next editorial retreat, but for now, thanks to VIDA for raising the questions and making us look inward.

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