The New York Times has decided it is never too late to recognize the work of great women. Last week, in an effort to bring equality to the obituary pages, the paper announced it would write obituaries for women it had overlooked. Per the paper, over the past two years only about 20% of the obituaries have been for women. To rectify that, the aptly named “Overlooked” project will take on the task of writing obituaries for remarkable women whose passings went unremarked on by the Times. Overlooked women include: Jane Eyre author Charlotte Brontë, journalist and civil rights leader Ida B. Wells, and photographer Diane Arbus.
The Times also asked readers to suggest women they missed. They may have bitten off more than they can chew. As Poynter reports, since announcing the project on March 8, the Times has received nearly 2,000 suggestions for other “Overlooked” obituaries. Since the paper plans to do a weekly obituary featuring a previously overlooked woman, it would take them roughly 38 years to get through these long-delayed obits. That timeline doesn’t include the 50 historical obits the newsroom has already written. The lesson here is that it’s easier to fight for equality from the start than to retrofit it after the fact.