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The New York Times Prints Obituaries of Overlooked Women in History for International Women’s Day

Overlooked no longer.
New York Times International Women's Day obituaries gender bias women's equality

Diane Arbus Ida B. Wells Qiu Jin (Photos Pinterest)

Since 1851, The New York Times published thousands of obituaries. The vast majority featured white men. So, what is the issue with that?

For people thinking of their local obituary pages, this seems insignificant or irrelevant. For most Americans, the obits just list deaths and funeral arrangements. But for major national papers like The Times, an obituary resembles a feature article, covering only those lives of importance.

Therein lies the problem. For 167 years, The New York Times deemed most women unworthy of recognition on their obituary pages.

Now, for International Women’s Day, The Times wants to rectify that gender bias. They selected 15 women who deserved recognition.

Their choices include civic leaders like Ida B. Wells, authors like Syliva Plath and Charlotte Brontë, and Chinese poet and revolutionary Qiu Jin.

The New York Times acknowledged they continue to have a problem in 2018 with gender bias and overall diversity. Women comprise over half the population, yet garner only 20 percent of their obituaries. They asked for the public’s assistance in identifying other important people who deserved a place in their pages.

We’ll be adding to this collection each week, as Overlooked becomes a regular feature in the obituaries section, and expanding our lens beyond women.

You can use this form to nominate candidates for future “Overlooked” obits, and read an essay from our obituaries editor about how he approaches the challenge of diversifying subjects.”

Who would you nominate?

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