Thursday, December 17, 2009

Boy story or girl story? Is there a gender difference in article assignments?

David Hayes over at TFEW (the Toronto freelance editors and writers list) raises the interesting question of whether, or if, there is a gender gap between male and female writers when it comes to being commissioned to do stories.
I suppose one example might be whether male editors at business magazines might favour male writers. What about outdoors/sportsy publications? Do female editors at a parenting magazine consciously or unconsciously favour writers who are mothers over fathers? Or would be less likely to assign to a childless male writer (who could nonetheless write a good feature) than a childless female writer?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hard to tease out the data. One confounding factor is whether writers also self-select in which mags and which stories they query on - which is often the first assignment we do for a mag, and the one that sets the tone for when and what for they think of us.

2:06 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't be naive! Of course there is gender bias. Women still get paid less then men and men still command more respect whether they deserve it or not in traditional areas such as finance, sports, technology and cars. Check out UTNE's article: How to Succeed in Blogging: Male Pseudonyms. It sums up the problem nicely.

3:30 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

read more about having to pose as a male to get better pay:

3:39 pm  
Anonymous Gloria Hildebrandt said...

Interesting question. I tend to assign articles to writers I think would be the most interested in the subjects or have useful experience. So I've hired a female who jogs to write about the Hamilton/Burlington Around the Bay Race, a male with real estate article experience to write about a historic house renovation, a female with profile writing experience to write about an organic winery, a male with great photography skills to write about & shoot a local food producer. I also keep in mind where the good writers are located. Working close to home makes sense for everyone. So there are lots of reasons to consider when I hire freelancers to work for us. Their sex so far isn't that important to me --although I do like to have a mix of male & female bylines in our issues.

5:15 pm  
Anonymous debbie said...

Man, I'd love it if those were live links in the above comments.

10:18 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This conversation has been going on over at the TFEW list for two days now (sparked by the copyblogger story which anon3 linked to) - there have been comments made about the situation by both men and women, but somehow, it's the male comment that gets picked up here. Hayes wasn't the only/first one to raise the issue...

11:30 pm  
Blogger D. B. Scott said...

Me, too, Debbie.

12:12 am  

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