Nice to know I’m not just imagining this; here’s the hard evidence. An ongoing study at womentk.com examined the lack of female voices in what are supposed to be general-interest—and presumably gender-neutral—magazines. Freelance writer Ruth Davis Konigsberg wanted to find out if men were consistently getting published more than women, and if so, to quantify the disparity. Tracking the so-called “thought leaders” — The Atlantic, Harper’s, The New York Times Magazine, The New Yorker, and Vanity Fair — over the course of a year, she found these magazines on average publish stories by male writers a whopping 3 times more often than they do stories by female writers. At The New Yorker, the ratio was 4-to-1. At Harper’s, it was almost 7-to-1. Konigsberg found the numbers even more surprising since so many women read these magazines, citing these stats: The New Yorker, for example, has an audience of 1,799,000 women and 1,710,000 men, according to a 2006 report by Mediamark Research Inc. The Atlantic’s current audience, Mediamark Research estimates, is 609,000 women and 747,000 men. At Vanity Fair, there are almost three times as many female readers as male readers. When asked to describe the typical reader of The New York Times Magazine, editor Gerald Marzorati replied, “I imagine my reader is a late-thirties-something woman, a lawyer or educator or businesswoman. She’s busy with work, and also with family matters, but Sunday morning is a time she’ll allow herself to read something that is not work related, or kids’ homework related. She wants to lose herself in a story, one big story—8,000, 9,000 words. My hunch is she wants to read not something escapist but something substantive—something that holds a mirror up to her own life or opens a window onto a pretty troubled world.” (NYT, 10/9/05) What’s more, research conducted by Time Inc. in 2005 showed a decline in the number of men reading magazines, while female readership held steady. There’s also an issue of what the women are allowed to write about — way more soft features (i.e. trends, home, arts, fashion, Hollywood) than hard news. Konigsberg, who writes for Glamour, Elle and The New York Observer, had her findings picked up by the Womens Media Center.
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