Tuesday, May 27, 2008

opinionated women wanted

Part of being an eloquent woman lies in your ability to persuade an audience to see something your way. Op-ed pages--so called because they lie opposite newspapers' editorial pages, which carry the editors' opinions--offer one opportunity for women to express their views. But according to Washington Post ombudsman Deborah Howell, women aren't well-represented in that paper's op-ed forum. She notes that of 654 op-ed pieces published thus far this year in her paper, some 575 were penned by men, but only 79 by women and about 80 by minorities. She notes:

...women and people of color don't submit nearly as many op-eds as white men do. Autumn Brewington, op-ed editor since January 2007, said she is eager to get more women, minorities and younger people to submit op-ed pieces. Brewington said that men submit op-eds "much, much more than women do" -- by as much as 9 to 1. She solicits pieces based on the news. "I'm eager to read op-eds by women, and I work to get women on the page, but I won't accept a piece just because it was written by a woman. Often we are looking for a specific person in the news or someone well positioned to write on a topic. My goal is to have a thoughtful,
provocative page each day with something for everyone," she said.

Howell also notes the issue involves real estate, with a thoughtful analysis of the regular columnists and how the space devoted to them limits op-ed opportunities. And this New York Times article looks at workshops designed specifically to help women find their voices in opinion articles. Our sister blog, don't get caught news & info, offers these tips on writing op-eds and on trying your hand at the short-form letter to the editor. If you haven't submitted an op-ed, check out your newspaper's web page for guidelines, then give it a try--or try your hand at an essay for NPR's "This I Believe" series (check out this one we covered earlier).