Friday, March 16, 2007

Making Women's Opinions Matter

There's some old saying that I'll flub here about how half the battle is showing up... which somehow reminds me of something Winston Churchill must have said once. But anyway, point is, in all the talk about the unduly small number of women showing up on the op-ed pages, there hasn't, until now, been much mention of just how to increase the numbers of women actually submitting pieces for publication (apparently, only a fraction of the pieces submitted are written by women). But in yesterday's NYT, Patricia Cohen reports on the seminars Catherine Orenstein is now running to not only teach women how to write op-eds, but also how to frame themselves as experts--and believe in themselves enough to make such an assertion convincing.

I certainly find it reassuring that Orenstein is out there, helping women find their voices. But it also depresses me to no end to hear these stories of women--extremely accomplished women by any measure--who feel they don't have the authority to speak their minds in a public space, and have to be sternly guided to identify their areas of expertise.

Perhaps the next generation of women won't have these problems, but in order for them not to more of us women have to make a road for them by walking it, as another old saying goes. So the task for all of us smart women out there is to show up, and make equality a reality.
Putting words on the page is intimidating for sure, and it's true that working women just have less time than men do to spend writing (what with raising families, taking care of parents, and holding down jobs; see The Nation's "Care Crisis" article). But it's something those of us who want to see change must make an effort to do. So get writing already!

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