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The Op-Ed Project by Amy

Katie Ornstein, Founder, with Barbara Field

This post originally appeared on my blog

I don’t know Barbara Field, but I owe her a huge thank you. Barbara powered her way to one of the microphones in the audience near me at the recent Gloria Steinem event and boldly promoted The Op-Ed Project Seminar in San Diego.

At first I thought, “Who is this women and why isn’t she taking this opportunity to talk to Gloria?” but admittedly there was something about Barbara’s chutzpah that was endearing. That night filled me with inspiration and the longing to find my voice was palpable. Gloria Steinem in the flesh, a venue filled with smart articulate interested and engaged women and Barbara got the best of me and I signed up for the seminar that night!

One other time I did something equally as impulsive and life changing. It was a similarly divisive time. The country was embroiled in polarizing political dissension. I called Lois, who I had been talking with for some time about our mutual discontent (to put it mildly) for our then-president, the political situation of our country and for the dismal future we felt was in store for our children. I was in the car on my way home from an all day workshop on podcasting. I was exhausted and exhilarated all at the same time. I was rambling, “. . . .we have to do something . . . . . we have something to say . . . . we have to change the conversation . . . .. we have to break out of this negativity . . . . . ” It was the fall of 2006 and Lois, Susan, Janet and I started crafting

Fast forward six years later, I was driving home from The Op-Ed Project, Write to Change the World Seminar, only this time I resisted the urge to call Lois. Okay, I admit it, I am older and I tire more easily than I did then. But I am now calling all of you, with the same exhilaration and enthusiasm . . .. we have to start writing Op Eds . . . we have something to say . . . . .we have to be part of the conversation . . . we have to pave the way and set a good example for our daughters! And you must, if at all possible, participate in an Op-Ed Project seminar. Leave a comment below for a discount code if there is a seminar happening in your city. If there isn’t, use their website as a resource and start writing!

The level of detailed information shared during the seminar was impressive. As was the leader Chloe Angyal and all the participants. There were 22 women including myself attending and each one was more accomplished than the next. The experience, education and interests among the group were diverse and deep. Whether drawn to the seminar for professional or personal reasons every woman there was passionate, knowledgeable and committed to their causes or areas of interest. “The Op-Ed Project’s mission is to increase the range of voices and quality of the ideas we hear in the world.” Saturday’s group is certainly qualified to help with that! At the top of the the Op-Ed Projects website there is a header entitled “Who Narrates the World” followed by the percentage of Op Ed articles published in the leading publications during the period between september 2011 and December 2011. The statistics are shocking. The New York Times: 22% by women, 78% by men. The Washington Post: 19% by women, 81% by men. The Huffington Post: 36% by women, 64% by men. Chloe pointed out that these statistics are not due to editorial bias; it is due to the low number of editorial submissions by women.

We need to change that. We need to change the conversation. We need to engage, to make sure our issues, our concerns are being voiced and voted for, not against. We need to ride the momentum of the election and make our voices heard. The unprecedented number of women senators elected Tuesday night is a start. We can do better. We can do more. I have read the passionate, intelligent, well-informed comments on this site. I know we can and do lead by example. In fact, StyleSubstanceSoul won a BlogHer Voices of the Year Award in the Op-Ed category this year. Learn more about The Op Ed Project, explore what you know, why it matters and how you can change the world. Then get out there, voice your opinions, and let the world hear from you!


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