“When 2008 Echoing Green Fellow Katie Orenstein started The Op-Ed Project, only four percent of the submissions to the op-ed pages of The Wall Street Journal were from women. Now, ten percent come from them. It’s an important indication of progress—and of ensuring that more voices are part of the public debate.
According to Op-Ed, between eighty to ninety percent of all submissions to the opinion essay pages in the United States come from men—usually highly educated, older, white men. Eighty-four percent of TV pundits on Sunday morning talk shows are men, along with eighty-seven percent of Wikipedia contributors, eighty-five percent of Hollywood producers, and eighty-three percent of Congress.* Public discourse in the world is literally being created by a fraction of the population. There is, of course, a deeper issue at play here. It’s why there are so few women CEO’s of Fortune 500 companies, and why we haven’t seen an equal number of female Fellows at Echoing Green. A couple years ago, Clay Shirky shared a “rant on women” when a student asked for a recommendation. Shirky asked the student to send him a draft, one that was effusive with its compliments and certainly dismissed if Shirky himself has submitted it. He pondered, however, that he would never have received such a draft from one of his female students. Why?
Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, shares it beautifully in her TEDWomen talk last year: “Women systematically underestimate their own abilities.” Men attribute their successes to themselves, while women acknowledge external factors for their accomplishments. Sheryl’s first piece of advice for women—sit at the table, own your success. Clay Shirky’s advice encourages women to say, “I can do that. Sign me up. My work is awesome.”
Op-Ed wants women to pull up a chair and say—not to wait to be called on—but, to shout, I am an expert on xyz, this is my opinion, and it matters to what happens next.”