There has been much discussion on the Internet about gender distribution in the bylines of high-profile journals and magazines after the release of the 2012 VIDA Count. Most of the publications surveyed published a laughably small number of women compared to men — perhaps most notably Harper’s, whose ratio surprised many, including the editors of more gender-equitable magazines who we recently interviewed. So, maybe they just need a few suggestions of great lady essayists to solicit for contributions? (Forget that they should already be well aware of these women.) Great. We have some. But since there are many more than ten who could, and perhaps should, be on this list, be sure to add your own favorites in the comments or tweet them @flavorwire, and we’ll put together a follow-up reader’s choice post filled with even more great female writers to read up on.
As far as we’re concerned, Susan Orlean is the first lady of serious creative/narrative nonfiction. We’re hoping it’s her longtime New Yorker staff writer status that keeps her from writing for Harper’s, because we can’t even gesture at another possibility.