Cornell University Program Seeks to Increase the Number of Women Op-Ed Writers

According to the Op-Ed Project “the voices we hear from in the world come from a tiny fraction of society – mostly Western, White, privileged, and overwhelmingly male.” Very few op-ed pieces in major newspapers are written by women or members of minority groups. A 2011 survey by the Op-Ed Project found that women made up only about 20 percent of the authors of op-ed pieces in majors newspapers such as The New York Times, Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, and the Los Angeles Times.

CornellLogoCornell University in Ithaca, New York, has mounted a program where the goal is to increase the number of women and minorities who regularly contribute op-ed pieces to major media outlets. The university invited a diverse group of faculty members to apply to become Public Voices Fellows. Applicants were asked why they thought they were from an underrepresented group and why they wanted a voice in public discourse.

The Public Voices Fellows who were selected have participated in workshops to train them to write for non-academic audiences. The Fellows were also prepared with tools that help them pitch their ideas to editors at various media outlets.

HolmTara Holm, an associate professor of mathematics at Cornell, reports that “we had group sessions where we brainstormed ideas. In between sessions we each paired up with a leader to get some feedback, and they would send our pieces to editors they know. It was a great opportunity to learn how to connect with the public in a way I haven’t before.” Dr. Holm has had op-eds accepted for publication in the Boston Globe and the Washington Post.

Dr. Holm is a summa cum laude graduate of Dartmouth College and holds a Ph.D. in mathematics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Filed Under: Gender Gap


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