Gender Differences in Pitching: Results from the TON Pitching Habits Survey

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  3. Are these cold pitches? Sounds like it. Curious there’s no mention of connecting with the editor first by phone, for a reality check on ideas and to establish a rapport.

    • Some are certainly cold pitches, but some are to editors writers have worked with before but don’t have a formal agreement or contract with. Calling could certainly be a way to connect with an editor, and it’d be nice to get feedback on a pitch immediately. But I’ve also heard from editors that they like written pitches because it allows them to get a feel for the writers’ voice — and some seem to hate it with a fiery passion! (see: http://www.theopennotebook.com/2012/01/04/how-not-to-pitch/)

  4. Curious whether this would this look different if broken down by staff vs freelance writers. This seems like it would be a major confounding factor in the way that people pitch. Income level isn’t necessarily a proxy, especially if the survey includes interns at major publications.

    Or is the assumption that all the respondents are freelancers? In the raw data, it looks like only two people identified as staff, but that isn’t an option on the survey.

    Also, when the blog says “61 percent of National Association for Science Writing (NASW) members are women,” is that members in total, or only those who identify as journalists?

    Comparing overall NASW membership and bylines and awards seems inexact, since a significant percentage of NASW members – male or female – don’t have the kind of jobs where they’d pitch to publications like NYT in the first place. If NASW has them, it would be interesting to see the journalist-only numbers.

    • Great points, Sara. We didn’t collect data on people’s professions, because we wanted to leave this survey open to anyone who pitches; you’re right that staffers may pitch very differently (or not at all!) in their day jobs, but many staffers may also pitch stories to other publications. We hoped that the question about how many hours a week they work as a science journalist would be a rough proxy for how much time people spend pitching.

      The 61% figure is for members in total. It’s certainly true that not all NASW members do the type of work that would have been counted in the Byline Counting Project or considered by awards committees, but it’s worth noting that data from other sources, like the Science Writers’ compensation report by Kendall Powell, suggests that women comprise the majority of science writers working towards high-profile bylines and awards.

      To my knowledge, there isn’t any publicly available data breaking down NASW’s membership by gender and job title, but that’d be interesting to look at — perhaps they could be gleaned from a previous NASW report, if raw data were made available.

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