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NDMU Working to Remedy Gender Disparity in Literary Journals

February 24, 2014

The annual VIDA Count of female bylines in literary journals has once again revealed huge disparities in the rates at which men and women’s writing is recognized, encouraged, and rewarded. For example, VIDA, a women’s literary organization, found that in 2013 the New York Review of Books had 636 male bylines to 164 by women. Similar disparities were found at The Atlantic (150 male, 72 female), Harper’s (155 male, 54 female) and the New Yorker (555 male, 253 female).

At Notre Dame of Maryland University, the state’s only undergraduate women’s college, our mission already addresses this ongoing cultural conversation, said Shelley Puhak, award-winning poet and NDMU’s Sister Maura Eichner Professor of English. NDMU announced the winners of its second annual Eichner Awards earlier this month, a competition designed to encourage and recognize female poets in the earliest stages of their careers. 

“In my role as Eichner Chair of Writing, I have been entrusted with preserving Sr. Maura’s legacy of helping women find, trust, and hone their voices. In her honor and in response to VIDA’s findings, NDMU has expanded opportunities for emerging women writers through our 4 Under 40 Reading Series and our prestigious Eichner Award for Young Poets,” she said.

“We were fortunate to have the co-founder of VIDA, the critically-acclaimed poet Cate Marvin, as the judge for our inaugural Eichner Awards competition. This year noted poet and translator A.E. Stallings, a regular contributor to The New Yorker and Poetry and winner of a prestigious MacArthur ‘genius grant,’ served as our judge,” she said.

“We plan to continue to connect aspiring, emerging, and established women writers and create more opportunities for conversation and mentorship,” she said.

Sister Maura Eichner inculcated a love of writing in her many students over her 50-year career teaching creative writing and literature at Notre Dame. More than 350 of her own poems appeared in literary magazines and journals, newspapers and collections including After Silence, a collection of poems chosen by her friends and colleagues that was published after her death in 2009.

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Notre Dame of Maryland University was founded by the School Sisters of Notre Dame more than 100 years ago. Based on the progressive vision that education can transform the world, we prepare compassionate leaders who change lives. Visit our website, ndm.edu, for more information.