Female Editors Written Off- by Adrienne Vogt
The announcement that Nancy Gibbs will become TIME magazine’s first top female editor marks yet another prominent publication handing the reins to a woman. Gibbs wrote more than 174 cover stories—more than any other writer in TIME’s history. She told TIME reporters and editors that she’s “the first managing editor to wear pumps—so far as we know.” Although we are in “A New Golden Age” of magazines—according to Port magazine’s now-infamous cover of all-male editors—women still face a boys’ club in journalism. In a world with trailblazers like The New York Times’ Jill Abramson, Conde Nast’s Anna Wintour, Mother Jones’ Clara Jeffery, and Newsweek & The Daily Beast’s own Tina Brown, we wonder how some major "progressive" publications have never had a top female editor. Let’s take a look at the ones who’ve stuck with the suits.
Newsflash, WSJ: Forty percent of women are now the breadwinners of their households. So there’s a chance that they’d be interested in business-related news. And what better way to take that point further than to nominate a female as the editor of the 124-year-old business-world staple? Last year, there were rumors floating around that Rebecca Blumenstein could get the coveted top spot in the bro club, but that went to Gerard Baker, who is the CEO of Dow Jones and the managing editor of The Wall Street Journal. (Granted, Blumenstein is the deputy editor-in-chief, which was Baker's old job.)
In the film Shattered Glass, The New Republic was described as the “snobbiest rag in the business, the in-flight magazine of Air Force One.” Oh, excuuuuuse me. Good enough for the president, but not quite enough to have a female at the top of its masthead? Twenty-nine-year-old Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes currently serves as editor-in-chief of the liberal mag, which has been around since 1914.
You’re up next, The Atlantic. Founded in 1857, its sweet spots are politics, economics and culture. Historically, it was an East Coast-only magazine. Thanks to its digital outlets, the publication’s three websites were able to build solid traffic and actually make a profit in 2010 for the first time in decades. But there’s a big omission—The Atlantic has never had a female editor-in-chief in its 156-year history. Since 2006, its top editor is James Bennet, a former New York Times White House correspondent.
A whole bunch of “sirs” have dominated The Economist’s top editorial position since its inception way back in 1843—literally, since two of its editors have been knighted. The lofty, global magazine proclaims its mission to be “a severe contest between intelligence, which presses forward, and an unworthy, timid ignorance obstructing our progress.” A famous ad slogan for the British publication declared that “Great Minds Like A Think.” So why can’t a great mind belong to a top female editor as well, Economist?
Unlike its counterparts Scientific American, Wired, and Science magazines, Popular Science has never had a top female editor. The magazine’s first issue was in 1872, and it has published work by early innovators like Thomas Edison, Charles Darwin, and Louis Pasteur. Even though the mag has gone through several name changes and company hand-offs, it is currently owned by Bonnier Magazine Group, which touts it as “the world's largest science and technology magazine.” So why hasn’t Popular Science ever hired a female EIC? Maybe it’s not as popular.
Forbes’s motto should be “keep it in the family.” B.C. Forbes launched the financial editorial empire in 1917. Since then, its editors have been Bruce Forbes and Steve Forbes. Even Forbes Woman, which was established in 2009, is run by Moira Forbes. The magazine, which is famous for its “Most Powerful” and “Richest” lists, should maybe write a new one on its own list: hire a female editor-in-chief for its main publication.