Put it in Writing
Publish. It seems like a big word. It can feel intimidating. But we all have something to say, and our voices are important. It is because of the willingness of those who write publicly to be vulnerable and openly share their thoughts – to put it in writing — that positive change is possible. In addition, those who publish become experts. Experts advance ideas and their careers. Nonetheless, as with so many fields, diverse women’s voices are lacking and the perspectives we are exposed to are limited. Aspiring to “get published” should be on your “to do” list because it benefits you and it shifts the larger conversation.
Women & Publishing
The publishing field is no different than any other. It brings particular challenges for women, and especially women of color. That’s why Joanne Rowling, better known as J.K. Rowling, was asked by her publisher to use her initials. She explains that her publisher wanted to disguise her gender because it was assumed that boys wouldn’t want to read a book written by a woman.
Likewise, when it comes to op-eds – meaning opposite the editorial page – 74% of writers are men. This is one of the most influential forms of publishing. According to The Op-Ed Project, it is one of the “nation’s key opinion forums – where expert ideas are tested and vetted, and history is sourced.”
Those who are writing – and publishing – are those who write history. The voices of diverse women and underrepresented groups are largely absent. A question we should always be asking is, “whose perspectives are missing and why?” For too long, a male viewpoint has dominated the stories we hold as true. The opinions that drive public policy, and ultimately, dictate our larger social conversations and norms are those of men.
And that’s why there is still a luxury tax on tampons.
The bottom line is that the perspectives of diverse women are needed to create a more inclusive dialogue. The best ideas should have an opportunity to be heard – or read – regardless of where they come from.
So, what can you do about it? Yes, get published. And the good news is there are more ways to achieve this than ever before.
Opportunities to Get Published
The 21st century brought with it the online revolution. Those who have not traditionally had a public platform found one on the world wide web. Through blogging and social media many have been able to share their ideas in a public way. Some have found a global audience.
Self-publishing is on the rise and is no longer viewed as subpar. Rather, those who self-publish find that they have more control over how to distribute their work and get to keep nearly all of the profits. Note that generally speaking, publishing houses pay very low percentages of royalties and if you have an agent, she or he gets a sizeable cut.
If you want to publish an op-ed, you can submit those on your own and very easily. The Op-Ed Project offers great tips and tricks on how to break into the op-ed world and also provides trainings and services that are credited with increasing women’s voices in this particular platform from 15% to 26% since its founding in 2008.
Of course, writing isn’t the only way to share your ideas; but it is a real opportunity that you can act on. If intimidation — or imposter syndrome — has prevented you from considering this as an option, give yourself the chance to try. Because you can. And if you do, you will help shift the narrative and that is how positive change happens.