July 19, 2002 — A MobyLives reader who — citing the MobyLives survey "The Talk of the Rest of the Town" — wrote to New Yorker editor David Remnick to complain about the low percentage of writing by women to be found in the magazine, passes along the response she got: a letter that appears to be a form reply, and is not from Remnick, but rather a staffer who does not identify her position with the magazine . . .

Thank you for writing. Women contributors — writers, artists, and editors — have played significant roles here ever since we set up shop in 1925. It's hard to think of The New Yorker without thinking of names like Dorothy Parker, Katharine White, Pauline Kael, Edith Oliver, Lois Long, Emily Hahn, Shirley Jackson, Helen Hokinson, Alice Munro, Helen Vendler, Janet Malcolm, and Janet Flanner. Although we would never want to become a single-sex enterprise, we don't look at the contents week to week and analyze the ratio of men to women. Still, there are a number of women whose work continues to figure prominently in our pages: Nancy Franklin, Jane Kramer, Susan Orlean, Daphne Merkin, Rebecca Mead, Victoria Roberts, and Roz Chast, Lillian Ross to name a few. In addition, it may be worth pointing out that our executive editor, managing editor, Talk of the Town editor, cover art editor, illustration editor, photo editor, and poetry editor are all women, and that a number of other top staffers are women, too. We're always on the lookout for new contributors, and we're sure that some of them will be female. In the meantime, we'll certainly keep your observations in mind.

Thank you again for your concern.


Brenda Phipps


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All material not otherwise attributed ©2001, 2002 Dennis Loy Johnson.