Here's another take on the underrepresentation of women in op-ed positions. Sterrett says, "There are more male columnists than female columnists, just as there are more straight columnists than gay columnists, and more white columnists than black columnists." Yes, and ideally I'd like to see more African American, gay, lesbian, and working-class columnists. Not because it would be all PC and everything, but because just maybe it would be good to get a variety of perspectives on current events and issues. One's social location informs (doesn't determine, but does inform) one's perspective. Standpoint theorists didn't get it all wrong. Sterrett then writes, "Where [Susan] Estrich is wrong is in assuming that bare stats directly relate to an individual writer’s ability to inspire change." Okay...but then:
Consider the Newspaper of Record, every Republican’s favorite news organization. They have five regular males on Op-Ed (kind of), and one female. It’s Brooks, Friedman, Herbert, Kristof, and Krugman, versus Maureen Dowd. The reason that’s not as bad as it seems is that Dowd, the only woman, has all the power.
Ask anyone who regularly reads the Times’ op-ed page what Bob Herbert’s last column was about. A clever response would be “Iraq,” since that’s mainly what he busies himself with, but no one actually knows. Does Bob Herbert even remember? He’s a fine writer—despite having the foreign-policy IQ of a tubeworm—but his work is regrettably forgettable. Same goes for all the others, even the sole conservative, David Brooks.
Dowd is the only one that matters. That’s not to say that the others are completely without merit, but clearly she’s the star writer. She may be but a small slice of the Times’ sweet, maudlin, left-wing pie, but she’s what everyone’s waiting for.
It’s not enough to look at the statistical evidence. Percentages are good for grading tests, but rather ineffective when determining the place of women in editorializing. There are more men than women writing op-eds, but women are certainly equal to men in terms of prominence. Just ask Bob Herbert.
So one woman is okay, if she's a queen bee? Or "token," as Prof. B. said? In fact, just read her post, it's a lot better than this one.