As an avid reader of the Denver Post and the Perspective section, I am regularly disappointed with the lack of women’s voices – and those of people of color – on your pages. Recently, I was shocked to count six guest columns that were not only all from men, but appeared to be all from white men.
Why does Jon Caldara get to take up so much space? Or Doug Friednash? Or Ian Silverii?
There’s nothing wrong with hearing from these – or any other – white males. I’m sure they’re fine people, and they can write. For the record, white males are some of my closest friends.
The problem is that the opinion pages should more accurately reflect the population of Colorado. The U.S. Census Bureau reports that almost half of Coloradans are female. Of all Coloradans, about 68 percent are white, 22 percent are Hispanic or Latino, just under 5 percent are black or African-American, 3.5 percent are Asian, and about 1.5 percent are Native American.
Knowing these figures, it is interesting to know some other facts. A Byline Survey by The OpEd Project in 2012 found that women were penning just 20 percent of opinions in traditional U.S. publications. That’s not anywhere close to 50-50.
Also concerning to people like me who are working to get more women elected is research from Who Leads Us showing that even though white men make up 30 percent of the population, they hold 64 percent of elected offices. While people of color (both men and women) make up 39 percent of the U.S. population, they hold only 10 percent of elected positions. For women of color specifically, the numbers are the worst – 20 percent of people and only 4 percent of seats.
Not only are women absent in seats of power, sometimes they are invisible in men’s commentary about politics. More than once I have read pieces that did not even mention that there were women candidates running in a given race. Women candidates have enough challenges without being casually erased from the opinion page.
These discrepancies have consequences – both in the world of ideas and in the world of policy. We are missing different life experiences, other ways of thinking about things, and valuable viewpoints. As a society, we make better policy decisions when there are diverse voices at the table. Many studies of government and business have shown this to be true.
The good news is women have opinions!
I was so concerned about the lack of women opinion writers that I decided to try to help. I spent some time rounding up a list of women with opinions. The women on this list are diverse in their race, their political party, their age, and their geography.
These women are ready to write columns for you:
- Cynthia Coffman
- Paula Cole
- Melanie Dubin
- Rebekah Henderson
- Alice Madden
- Amber McReynolds
- Confidence Omenai
- Vanessa Quintana
- Elizabeth Skewes
- Maya Siegel
- Suzi Q. Smith
- Kristin Strohm
- Emma Tang
- Calandra Vargas-O’Hanlan
- and me.
This is a brief list. I’m sure that there are many more women who would be willing to lend their voices to the conversations happening in your paper.
Expanding the number of diverse women thought leaders is especially urgent as we approach not only the next legislative session, but also a very consequential presidential election and U.S. Senate election. I urge you to add more women writers to your rotation of columnists.