3.24.2005

Seattle poet, fiction writer, and editor Jenny Scott points us to this important article at Editor & Publisher, on why there aren't more women Op-Ed writers:
Patrisia Gonzales, who co-writes a Universal Press Syndicate column with Roberto Rodriguez, said: "I hate to generalize about this, but here goes. ... Men make most of the decisions about who's hired as a columnist or who's accepted as having 'authority' to write. There are untold numbers of women and people of color whose ideas are cutting edge and 'outside of the box'; unfortunately, they rarely make it into the commentary pages on a regular basis."

Gonzales added: "The women and people of color who write with complexity may not fit into easily marketable niches. There are still editors who want us to fit into their ideas of who we are and how we should think. Now, in this era of war and largely unquestioning acceptance of our government's policies at home and abroad, there's an even greater need for women's voices who challenge unacceptable behavior as normal and justified."
This article gives me hope: a discussion is starting, and Planet Cupcake is well on its way. It's so fascinating--the numbers in these places of authority (literary magazines, op-ed pages) seem to always hover around a magical 21-23 percent women writers--that's what we're finding in our research into the New Yorker, etc.

My theory is that an 80-20 breakdown is the ratio that remains invisible to someone who's not a woman writer or Cupcake convert accustomed to counting bylines. For whatever reason, this ratio doesn't seem egregious unless you have been educated, whether through years of being a woman writer or listening to women writers talk about their careers, or through Cupcake, to question why so few women are granted the authority, the byline, the paycheck. Harpers, say, or those really bad weeks at the NYT Book Review, for example, do stand out more to the naked eye--if it's under ten percent, people notice.

Jenny also recommends checking out Michael Kinsley in the LA Times. The article is called: Girl Problems In Op-Ed Land. Something's brewing, my Cupcakes. Or baking, I should say. Get your frosting ready.

xo
Elizabeth
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