Their findings shouldn’t come as a huge surprise to those who have been paying attention. People like our very own Courtney Martin and Ann Friedman have been calling out the “woman problem” in our nation’s op-ed pages, citing cringe-worthy stats showing that women make up only 24.4 percent of the columnists at eight major syndicates, a number that’s barely moved since 1999, when it stood at 23.7 percent. That is utterly jaw-dropping, and certainly not reflective of the countless intelligent and passionately opinionated women writers I know to be out there.
The good news? According to the findings of the Op-Ed Project, there have been “major improvements” in women’s op-ed writing throughout the past six years. But women’s writing outside those pages tends to cluster around certain subjects, as highlighted in the graph below.
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I don’t know if I should be heartened or saddened that family and gender are the only two subject areas where women’s contributions outnumber those of men. On the one hand, it’s great that we are finding our voice to speak to subjects that are relevant and important to us. On the other hand, I know we have so much more to say about so many other topics!
If your appetite for statistics on bylines has been whet, you can review all the findings in more detail here. Find yourself wanting data on a wider or different range of factors? They’ve got you covered. A note on their website states that “the OpEd Project continues to conduct its own Byline Survey and we will soon be delving into the class, race, and education of op-ed writers.” We will look forward to their findings. For now, let’s all keep writing our passion! And supporting Lady Journos, of course.