New program encourages diversity in op-ed writing
(Yale Daily News) A new program introduced at Yale in the spring aims to bring more female and minority experts into the field of opinion writing. The Yale Women’s Faculty Forum and the Provost’s Office have provided $50,000 to sponsor the Public Voices Thought Leadership Fellowship at Yale, which pairs senior faculty members with writing mentors from the OpEd Project, a New York-based organization that works with universities and nonprofits across the country to encourage gender equality in opinion journalism. OpEd Project instructors work with 20 “OpEd fellows” — female and minority male members of Yale’s faculty — for two years of mentoring.
Men compose 87 percent of Wikipedia editors, 84 percent of pundits on Sunday morning talk shows and 80 to 90 percent of contributors to newspaper opinion pieces, according to the OpEd Project’s website. American studies and women’s gender and sexuality studies professor Laura Wexler said those statistics motivated her to spearhead the effort that brought the OpEd Project to campus in May, with the help ofSchool of Medicine professor Shirley McCarthy. At the time, both Wexler and McCarthy were co-chairs of the Women’s Faculty Forum, a group that promotes gender equity at the University.
“We need a greater variety of voices to help expand public commitment to scientific research, enrich our social world and deepen our political choices,” Wexler said in a Wednesday email. “Yale faculty members do important work in all these areas. Yet translating the results of our specialized research for the public idea space is an art in which few of us are trained.”
Newspaper op-ed editors are usually not biased against women and minorities, McCarthy said, but those segments of the population submit fewer op-eds for publication.