Count shows few women as National Magazine Award finalists

The announcement of the 2012 National Magazine Award finalists drew attention this week, not for the finalists themselves but for those who were missing.

Ann Friedman pointed out that no women were listed among finalists for the American Society of Magazine Editors’ awards in the reporting, feature writing, profile writing, essays and criticism, columns and commentary categories. However, women were the majority of candidates for the public interest, personal service and fiction categories, in other words, two those three categories are “servicey” (as Friedman noted) and most of the articles that were nominated are on “women’s issues,” such as body image (including an article on getting a “mommy tuck”), relationship or sexual violence, or specific women’s health issues like breast cancer.

This provoked a number of posts and commentary. Alyssa Rosenberg at Think Progress pointed out the fact that the awards include a women’s magazine category but no men’s magazine category, meaning men’s mags are included as general interest. References were also made to VIDA’s annual byline count, which has shown male authors dominating the space in top magazines. Said VIDA’s Erin Belieu in an interview with Mother Jones, “The National Magazine Awards have sent a pretty clear message… When it comes to a career in journalism, chicks should stick to writing about chicks.”

Meanwhile, Brooke Hatfield started an #ASSME hashtag on Twitter in an effort to point out quality work by women in 2011. Here are some examples:

All of this drew a response from Sid Holt, the chief executive of ASME, who explained the selection process and called the criticisms “kind of silly,” according to Poynter. He also identified women who have been in nominated in recent years. Rosenberg reported that Holt did acknowledge that the questioned women’s magazine category has been a “subject of debate” and explained the reasoning behind it.

Read commentaries on women and the awards as well as the judging process in the articles below:

What do you think of the lack of women finalists in major award categories? Are counts like this important? What do they mean? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.