There’s A Reason Why More Men Than Women Are Published On The Opinion Pages & It’s Not Sexism
Many conservatives haven’t bothered to comment on the running battle over how many women are published on the opinion pages of the LA Times…and for good reason.
First off, watching someone as smug as Michael Kinsley go at it with a shrill feminist harpy like Susan Estrich is like watching France and Spain go to war: who cares which side wins?
Number 2: The LA Times, like most big papers in America, has an opinion page that’s heavily slanted to the left. So in truth, they’re not fighting about how many women will be published at the LA Times, they’re really duking it out over how many liberal women will get the nod from Kinsley. Again, why should conservatives care about that?
However, this paragraph in Howard Kurtz’s column about the Kinsley v. Estrich feud caught my eye:
“Some papers have made things work. Keven Ann Willey, who runs the Dallas Morning News editorial page, says 41 percent of her contributors last year were women, and that she gets a monthly report broken down by gender, race, ethnicity and age, because “we want lots of diversity on our op-ed page.”
I freely admit that I could be totally off base here since I don’t read the Dallas Morning News, but why do I suspect “diversity” to Ms. Wiley means getting liberal opinions from different genders, races, ethnicities, and age ranges?
Furthermore, may I suggest that if 41% of Wiley’s contributors were of the female persuasion that it’s likely that a lot of men who wrote great columns got shafted so Wiley could get enough women columnists to reach some artificial number that in her mind means the editorial page is “diverse?”
Now why do I say that?
It’s certainly not because women can’t write excellent opinion pieces. Just to name a few examples, Ann Coulter, Michelle Malkin, Linda Chavez, Heather Mac Donald, & Mona Charen are some of the best writers in the business.
However, there are talented male writers as well and quite frankly, they outnumber the talented female writers by a considerable margin. As I’ve pointed out before, there are less women making names for themselves writing about politics because percentage wise, there aren’t as many women as men who are interested in writing about politics in the first place.
A couple of quotes from Kurtz’s piece support this view:
“Gail Collins, the first woman to run the New York Times editorial page, says, “The pool of available people doing opinion writing is still tilted toward men. There are probably fewer women, in the great cosmic scheme of things, who feel comfortable writing very straight opinion stuff, and they’re less comfortable hearing something on the news and batting something out.”
Post Editorial Page Editor Fred Hiatt says: “There ought to be more women on op-ed pages in general. Over time, I intend to make that happen.” Hiatt notes that death has claimed two of his columnists in the past year, Mary McGrory and Marjorie Williams, leaving Anne Applebaum as the only regularly published woman. He says 80 to 90 percent of submissions, especially from such male-dominated bastions as Congress and academia, come from men.”
If 80-90% of the submissions are by men is it any wonder that a lot more men get published? Let me again add that it’s no surprise that 80-90% of submissions are by men given that a lot more men than women are really into politics. Want proof?
Look at the last blogads demographic survey — which was filled out by the sort of political junkies who comb blogs to get their daily dose of polls, news, & opinion — and you’ll find that 79% of the “poliblog” readers were men.
Heck, look at the political blogosphere itself. Despite the fact that there are no significant barriers to entry & no editors to determine whether a piece gets published, there are far more successful male bloggers than female bloggers.
Again, I’m not putting down female bloggers or saying that they’re less talented than men. There are plenty of excellent & accomplished female writers on the right-side of the blogosphere like Michelle Malkin, Michele Catalano, La Shawn Barber, Ann Althouse, Lorie Byrd from Polipundit / Byrd Droppings, & Betsy Newmark & lots of talented women coming through the pipeline (see here, here, & here). However for every one of these bloggers, I could probably name 4 or 5 male bloggers who’ve achieved a similar level of success in the blogosphere.
So what’s the point?
It’s simple: The reason that you see an unequal number of men and women getting published on opinion pages isn’t sexism, it’s just a consequence of the numbers game. Falsely assuming that sexism is responsible for the difference can to lead to quotas & reverse discrimination against male writers all in the name of combatting a bias against women that just doesn’t appear to exist in this particular case.