In today's Post
, Zophia Smardz pens:
"What do you think -- are women as opinionated as men? I know that's a hoot-you-out-of-the-room question most places these days. But here in news opinionland, it's been topic number one thanks to a recent kerfuffle between certain outspoken women and the editors of various national newspaper opinion pages.
It started, as such things often do, as a fairly routine wrangle over access. Why, the critics demanded, are almost all the columnists and contributors on the op-ed pages of papers like The Post and The New York Times men? Why aren't more women being let in the door? That's not fair, is it?
Well, no, that wouldn't be. But then things took a more intriguing turn. One editor -- a woman, it so happens -- offered the opinion that members of her sex are just less comfortable expressing pure opinion. Of course the critics weren't buying, retorting that the problem is simply discrimination by male editors who still dominate editorial page staffs. But -- not so, countered the editors' champions. Because if that's all it is, then how do you explain the bloggers? Yup -- turns out there are way fewer females than males firing off-the-hip convictions into no-entry-barred cyberspace, too."
(for the rest of the opinion piece, see Just Give It a Shot, Girls
The piece goes on to discuss the author's experience with and opinions on why women aren't better represented in the editorial pages of major newspapers. It seems that women tend to be more cautious about putting their opinions out there (not that we don't have them -- we're just afraid to publish them) as manifested in requests for longer deadlines and time to consider what to write and excuses of schedules being too full. So, I would argue that it's not a matter of a dearth of opinions but rather societal conditioning not to be assertive about proferring said opinion. Add to that, perhaps, something scary about seeing that opinion in black and white print.
Interestingly enough, from my two perspectives -- that of a law student and advocacy from the non-profit sector -- there is ample evidence that women are very comfortable and confident in expressing their own opinions. In fact, in both of my realms of existence, women outnumber and even outtalk the men... that may not answer the issue of instutitional discrimination elsewhere or fears of criticism, but it's a start.
C'mon Ladies... time to get loud!