Indian businesswoman reading newspaper outdoors. (Take A Pix Media)

New women’s politics and economics writing prize

jennisheppard Blog, Writing Leave a Comment

A friend of mine brought this to my attention and I want to bring it to yours – the British New Statesman magazine and Virago publishing company have announced a new prize for women who write about politics and economics.

According to a press release,  debut women writers can enter by sending in a 3000-word proposal, showing “originality and rigorous thinking.”

“Blaming individual publishers, awards judges or editors is not the answer: a wider cultural change is needed. We need to identify, encourage and promote talented female writers.” Tom Gatti, Culture Editor of New Statesman

What a great quote – and exactly the right attitude. Be the change you want to see.

The winner will get a contract for a 20,000 word essay to be published as a Virago ebook and an option to make a second contract for a full-length book.

Entries should:

  • consist of an outline of 1000 words and a sample extract of 2000 words
  • adhere to the terms and conditions linked here
  • be sent to by 31st January 2016

Results will be announced in April 2016 and the winner will then develop her proposal into a 20,000 word essay for publication.

No all male panel here

Incidentally, the irony of a magazine titled New Statesman launching a prize for women is not lost on me.

But I’m reassured by the fact the judging panel will be made up of three women and one man – Gillian Tett, US managing editor and award-winning columnist at the Financial Times, Helen Lewis, deputy editor of the New Statesman, Lennie Goodings, publisher of Virago, and Tom Gatti, culture editor of the New Statesman.

This seems very much like everyone joining forces for gender equality, which is exactly how it should be. No more all male panels here.

You say virago, I say virago

Couple of things in passing. First off, trying to find a stock photo to illustrate this post was almost impossible.

The stock images of women out there are terrible. The one I chose seemed the least offensive. More on that in a later blogpost I suspect.

Secondly, Virago only publishes books by women. In fact, the meaning of the term virago, which I only learned in writing this post, shows the tightrope women often have to walk in positions of authority:

noun vi·ra·go \və-ˈrä-(ˌ)gō, –ˈrā-; ˈvir-ə-ˌgō\
plural vi·ra·goes or vi·ra·gos

1: a loud overbearing woman : termagant
2: a woman of great stature, strength, and courage

Let’s make meaning number one redundant – let’s herald our amazing viragoes from now on! And get some better stock images.

I want your feedback. Any thoughts, reaction, advice… Let me know in the comments below!

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