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Only 10-20% of newspaper opinion pieces written by women


Backing up WVON’s reason for existence nicely, The Huffington Post has published a piece highlighting the lack of female opinion in the news.

In case we were in any doubt, reporter Tabby Biddle exhorts us to turn to the op-ed pages of any major newspaper, and ‘you’ll see what I am talking about’.  Although the piece is focused on the US media, the points made apply equally to the UK.

As Biddle goes on to emphasise,  Op-ed pieces matter, and this is underlined by Catherine Orenstein, founder of the OpEd Project:

“They matter for a lot of reasons. For one, they heed all other media. They drive thought leadership in America. It’s where ideas become policies and where people get tapped to be leaders,”

The OpEd Project is an initiative to expand the range of voices we hear in the media, with a specific focus on increasing the number of women through leaders participating and leading the public discussion.

Ms. Orenstein explained in an interview with NPR: “If you look at the statistics, in fact, they are remarkably the same across all platforms. So if you look at op-ed pages, which run about 85 percent male, and then you took at television, political talk shows on Sunday morning, about 84 percent of the pundits are male, and then you look at Congress, that’s 83 percent male, and that’s not a coincidence. That’s a spectrum of thought leadership.”

Tracey Trottenberg, feminine leadership and communications strategist, sees the most common reasons for women holding themselves back from expressing themselves as being to do with confidence to express their opinions:

“A lot of women have a fear of bragging, so they play it small or shrink themselves. They don’t want to be ‘too much’. They’ve actually gotten used to playing small and believing the reasons they created to stay small. There is also a fear about how others will respond to them and possibly judge them.”

Then she added, “I feel also that women hold back because they’re afraid of their own strength and brilliance.”

According to Biddle, this is something we need to get over, and she points out that with one in six females undergoing rape or attempted rape at some point in her life, two million girls disappearing worldwide each year because of gender discrimination, 70 percent of the world’s poor being women, and women worldwide owning only one percent of the property – we need to speak up.


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