Literary Journals Taking Action

August 11, 2011 by So to Speak
Filed under: Opinion 

Today I was thrilled to find in my inbox an email from WEAVE Magazine asking me to fill out an online contributor survey for them.  Why, you ask, would I THRILLED about filling out an online survey?  Because the purpose of Weave’s survey is, according to the journal’s email: to help Weave’s editors “continue to publish diverse work reflecting the many textures in the tapestry of our world.”

In their email, which included a link to the short, anonymous online survey, WEAVE cited and linked to VIDA’s recent study revealing the vast under-representation of women in literary journals.

“Weave has always suspected this and we began with the goal of evening this scale,” the editors wrote in their email. “At least half of the work in each issue of Weave is by women. We want to do more. We want WEAVE to be a publication that celebrates all the voices of our world.”
WEAVE‘s survey asked about age, gender identity, sexual orientation, national/state origin, race, and ethnicity.  Every question had a “prefer not to say” option, and the instructions and box options were broad and always inclusive (“click all that apply”).
Of course, WEAVE isn’t the only literary journal out there promoting, encouraging, and taking active steps toward diversity–but they’re the first journal I’ve ever received a contributor survey like this from, and boy was I excited to see it.  AND struck by what a great and powerful idea surveys like this actually are!
Setting up short contributor surveys like this one is a wonderful, active tool that all literary journals can use to gauge just how well they are representing a diverse authorship.  If more journals had surveys like this one, I doubt we would see the kinds of numbers reflected in VIDA’s study.
It’s a simple, easy, step–not an extreme one, and not requiring a dime spent.  I hope it’s a practice that will continue to spread, as more editors recognize it as a powerful tool to help make real change.  Together, we can work toward continuing to make the publishing community a place for everyone.


One Comment on Literary Journals Taking Action

    [...] whether it is meeting its standards of diversity: a contributor survey.  I went on and on about it here. But seriously, Weave is doing great things for promoting diversity in the writers it features—a [...]

So to Speak
George Mason University
4400 University Drive, MSN 2C5
Fairfax, VA 22030-4444