Miriam Markowitz in The Nation:
A few years ago, the literary world was beset by a bogeywoman who came bearing bad news and the numbers to prove it; her name was VIDA. Some assumed this moniker was an acronym or a misspelled allusion to Virginia Woolf’s famous literary paramour, Vita Sackville-West, but it wasn’t. VIDA was an all-caps neologism that would come to haunt the dreams of editors of magazines large and small, eminent and less so, with your author, dear reader, included among those unsound sleepers.
If you are an accredited member of the magazine world or else a vigilant fellow traveler, chances are that you already know about VIDA. You have heard of the Count, which tallies bylines by gender at publications that “are widely recognized as prominent critical and/or commercial literary venues.” You have opinions about what the numbers mean and how magazines should or will respond to them. If you are a partisan of the Count, or a feminist, or a woman writer, there is a good chance that, having read the opening paragraph of this essay, you are puzzled or angry. If you are a reactionary, an embattled editor or a plain old contrarian, you may already be cheering: Look, here we go, a woman writer and editor socking it to those sourpuss byline-counters! It is easy to incite, in the small community that cares about such things, indignation or delight, because the battle lines have been drawn, it seems—demands issued, sops and reassurances offered—and little has changed.