The developments of Web 2.0 technologies have given an astounding number of people the ability to share their ideas with a larger audience. However the traditional media sources, particularly op-ed pieces in large newspapers, are much more effective in reaching the brains of our policy makers and subsequently influencing public policy decisions. At face value this phenomenon is not terribly problematic - until one sees who's opinions are being tossed into this persuasive forum of ideas. The Op-Ed Project website states that the vast majority of op-ed pieces in the major newspapers are authored by "western, white, priveledged and overwhelmingly (85%) male." Katie Orenstein, the founder of the Op-Ed Project, noticed all sorts of claims attempting to explain this lack of representation of women within these highly values pages, from sexism on the newspaper editors behalf to the inflammatory "biological aptitude" argument. What she discovered, however, is that women contribute pieces to the opinion pages far less frequently than men which, obviously, contributes to the low rates of women's perspectives in the op-ed pages.
In an effort to alleviate the low frequency of submissions by women (and other marginalized groups) Orenstein began the Op-Ed Project in 2008 to "expand the range of voices we hear from in the world, with an immediate focus on increasing the volume of women thought leaders in the public sphere to a tipping point." The Op-Ed project travels around the country teaching seminars to women experts to write for the op-ed pages of the top print and online forums for public discourse. The Project's mission is more merit based, it seeks to develop a wave of empowered, talented women that contribute their ideas in highly influential public spaces rather than demanding a gender quota in the publishing of op-eds. Since it beginning, the project estimates that the women experts who have participated in the seminars have published hundreds of op-eds in major media outlets, conservatively reaching over ten million readers.
If you, or anyone you know is interested in attending a seminar, the Op-Ed Project is inviting you to take part in their upcoming program on April 1, 2012. Hosted at the offices of Ms. Magazine, the program will use innovative techniques to challenge participants to think more carefully and more expansively about their knowledge, explore ways to gain credibility, and how to construct a powerful and persuasive argument. Participants will leave the seminar with a draft of an op-ed and be granted access to the Op-Ed Project's network of high-level media mentors.
Date: April 1, 2012
Time: 10am - 5pm
Place: Ms Magazine, 433 S. Beverly Drive, Beverly Hills, CA 90212
Before March 1 - $295
Before March 29 - $345
Regular Registration - $425
Pay in Words Scholarship Option
For more information about the Op-Ed Project visit: theopedproject.org