Thursday, September 22, 2005

Op-Eds, She Wrote?

Posted By on Thu, Sep 22, 2005 at 1:08 PM

In a world that supposes feminism is either dead or ought to be because men and women are equal and we're all having a Coke and a smile, it's interesting to read this piece on the Ms. Magazine site about the representation of women on op-ed pages in major papers across the country. And it's not just op-ed pieces - it's bylines in general, and even sources.


Then Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting (FAIR) jumped into the fray, with data from a study of Jan. and Feb. 2005 showing the Times wasn't alone in its dearth of women pundits: Women constitute only 17 percent of opinion writers at The New York Times, 10 percent at The Washington Post, 28 percent at U.S. News & World Report, 23 percent at Newsweek and 13 percent at Time. Overall, only 24 percent of nationally syndicated columnists are women, FAIR's Janine Jackson told a Women and the Media conference in Cambridge in March, and they tend to be white and right-wing. A notable exception is United Features newspaper syndicate, half of whose columnists are women.


Then, there's this:

Editor Gail Collins of The New York Times op-ed section offered a shocking rationale for her paper's lack of gender diversity: "There are probably fewer women—who feel comfortable writing very straight opinion stuff—hearing something on the news and batting something out."

As someone who'd rather review a record any day than tackle politics, I'm not entirely shocked by this notion - but for me it's a preference, and I'm just fine with it. But for the women who are vying alongside men for these spots, is this discrepancy about nature or nurture?

Our own breasted editor is mere exception to the rule, it seems. But is the softer sex still being discouraged from covering hard issues?

UPDATE FROM THE PITHMASTER: Commenting on this topic has been closed for now, but may be reopened later. Many off-topic and attack comments have been removed.

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