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Why There Are So Few Women Op-Ed Columnists


Um, because they don't want the job? Sheelah Kolhatkar lays it out in the New York Observer:

How hard is it, Katha Pollitt asked in The Nation last month, to hire female columnists? "How hard can it be to ‘find’ Barbara Ehrenreich … Dahlia Lithwick … Sharon Lerner … Debra Dickerson?"

Debra Dickerson was my favorite example in Kolhatkar's piece:

"Here’s the monkey wrench," said Ms. Dickerson, author of The End of Blackness. "The New York Times had me in contention for a spot on the editorial board, and The Washington Post offered me a column a couple of years ago that I turned down. And I turned it down for typically ‘female’ reasons."

..."I’m amazed at the way people list me—‘Why don’t they talk to Debra Dickerson?’ Well, they did! Everybody’s offered me a job," said Ms. Dickerson, who has written freelance opinion pieces for The Washington Post and The New York Times. "But I was sort of hiding my light under a bushel basket, waiting for my husband to catch up. But I think nowadays, if you’ve got the stuff, you can write your own ticket."

The problem is, "the stuff" includes having the guts to weather letters from people who loathe you, your writing, and everything you stand for. My feeling? "Bring it on!" My hate mail is my most entertaining. For example, from today's mail slurry:

Bore vs. the bad guy
First time I have ever read your column. What a crock. True she should have someone more interesting in her life but you went over the top Trying to be funny in the first few advice paragraphs. The girl was looking for help not your attempt to entertain. It was just plain ridiculous.

My response:

My column is both an advice column and a humor column. I think it's rude to give unsolicited advice...don't you? I take advice on writing from people whose minds I respect.

1. My boyfriend
2. My best friend
3. Elmore Leonard
4. My assistant
5. My editor

See your name on that list?

She writes back:

now thats funny

Observer link via Romenesko

Posted by aalkon at May 26, 2005 9:16 AM

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Just a little editing, Amy...

"I take advice on writing from people whose minds I respect.

1. My boyfriend
2. An aging transsexual epidemiologist
3. Elmore Leonard
4. My assistant
5. My editor"

Posted by: Lena-doodle-doo at May 27, 2005 7:32 PM

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