We all know women write. We’ve read each other’s books, blogs, articles, columns, etc. for years. However, women only write about 15% of the Op-Ed pieces in major newspapers. Last night I attended a panel discussion, put together by Women’s Information Network, to help show women how to actually write and submit an opinion piece. It was eye opening.
Like I said, we all know women write. For those us who don’t do this for a living, but for those of us are not, and maybe don’t want to be paid, have found blogs to be an amazing space to complete our need to voice our opinions. I am part of the problem. I write here every week, and I have my own personal blog. But I have never written an Op-Ed. Have you?
Women submit Op-Eds about as often as they ask for a raise. Men submit nine Op-Eds for every one woman who submits. If one of every ten Op-Ed is printed, it’s no wonder you don’t see more women on the page. A 2008 study done by Rutgers University, looking at 366 opinion pieces found that 82% in the New York Times and 97% in the Wall Street Journal were written by men. Want some more recent information? Check out The Op-Ed Project, where they have a count from early November. Their information show women wrote 17% of the New York Times, 18% of the Washington Post, 17% of the Wall Street Journal opinion pieces. Women opinion piece authors actually have better numbers at Huffington Post and Harvard with 38% and 54% respectively.
How we got here is a little strange. But the important piece of information to remember is that this is now a known issue. It is the reason Women’s Media Center was started. Editors at major newspapers and magazines are aware of the lack of women submitting pieces. As I learned last night, they actually want to hear from us. Readers are only getting one part of the story if we sit back without submitting our version. The simple solution is to start learn to write and submit Op-Ed pieces. Maureen Dowd and Gail Collins cannot be the only female voices out there, no matter how much we love reading their work.
Answer the following questions to get yourself started:
1. What are you an expert on or passionate about? What issues being debated now will have a direct impact on you?
This will help you determine your topic.
2. Who do you want to reach? Who is your audience and what papers do they read?
This will help you determine where to submit your piece.
3. Is this newsworthy?
Write about something that will be talked about still or for the first time in the next week or so.
- Only send your piece to one publication. If they don’t want to print it, then you’re free to move on to another option.
- Edit, edit, edit. And have someone else read and edit.
- Don’t post it on Facebook or blog first. No paper will want to print it then.
- Do share wide and far when you do get something printed!
If you have an Op-Ed’s printed please share your tips below. If you’ve never written, or submitted, an opinion piece, please consider it! Take the steps above, look to examples of women who have done it, and look at The Op-Ed Project for additional guidance.
Make sure your voice is heard by those who make decisions and can actually make change happen. What will you write about?