A Decade of Women Who Submit
Poets & Writers Magazine|May - June 2021
For the past decade an international community of women and nonbinary writers have been working to claim space for themselves in an industry historically dominated by men. Known as Women Who Submit (WWS), the group supports and empowers its members to submit their work in spite of publishing’s inequities. Their achievements have been extraordinary: This July, the organization celebrates its tenth year, with twenty-seven chapters across the United States and Mexico, more than one hundred fifty successful book and magazine publication credits by its members in 2020, and a devoted community of writers, editors, and publishers.
By Thea Prieto

The first meeting of Women Who Submit took place in Los Angeles in 2011, following a discussion among writers and cofounders Alyss Dixson, Ashaki M. Jackson, and Xochitl-Julisa Bermejo about women’s representation in publishing. Dixson had worked with the organization VIDA: Women in Literary Arts, which—among many efforts to diversify literary publishing—compiles statistics regarding gender parity in the publishing industry. That year VIDA released the first of what would become an annual analysis of gender representation in widely distributed literary journals and periodicals. The results were striking: On average only 28 percent of the bylines in the thirteen publications that were the focus of the first study belonged to women. Representation at some publications was as low as 16 percent. Dixson and the other VIDA organizers reached out to the editors of some of the reviewed journals to ask about the editorial gatekeeping that created this inequity and how women and nonbinary writers might push back against it.

“The most common answer was that women don’t submit as often and don’t resubmit as aggressively as men,” says Bermejo. “Alyss, knowing that information, was brainstorming how we could make a difference, and she came up with this idea of a submission party.”

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