“Consider your Contribution:” Thoughts on Opposition

Guest post by OpEd Project Facilitator Deborah Douglas.

deborahd1Sunlight is the best disinfectant.”  ― William O. Douglas

From the Department of Why do you do what you do (WDYDWYD)?: According to NYT writer Tara Mohr, “If a woman wants to do substantive work of any kind, she’s going to be criticized — with comments not just about her work but also about herself. … And yet, many women don’t have that tool kit.”

As author of the upcoming “Playing Big: Find Your Voice, Your Mission, Your Message,” Mohr highlights research that shows women are judged more harshly in workplace evaluations, with a focus on aspects of their personality

She says, “Women today inhabit a transitional historical moment. We have tremendous new freedoms and new opportunities, but the legacy of a very different past is around us and inside us. Learning to respond to praise and criticism — without getting hooked by it — is for most of us, a necessary rite of passage.”

I offer Mohr’s thoughts for your consideration, first, to strengthen your resolve against those who vehemently disagree with you as you push your voice and ideas into a more expansive marketplace of ideas. Second, please consider your contribution to this transitional, historical moment and how your thoughts, words and expertise can be leverage into this transitional moment.

And while I don’t have the research to back this up, my gut tells me, minorities face similar circumstances. This is our time; let’s use it.

Deborah Douglas is a veteran journalist and an OpEd Project Fellowship Leader. In 2014, Douglas has led OpEd Project programs across the continent, including our Public Voices fellowships at Dartmouth College and University of Texas at Austin.

For more advice on dealing with negative feedback, see this post by OpEd Project Fellowship Leader Chloe Angyal

To learn more about the photo project WDYDWYD, see here.

Bay Area Experts Come Together at our Fall Core Seminar


Bay Area experts gathered this weekend at the offices of the ACLU of Northern California for a high-impact training around themes of voice and influence.

The program brought together participants from Emerge California, the California Center for Research on Women and Families, the National Crittenton Foundation, the University of Cambridge, and the Stanford Consulting Group.

Experts in the room are working to change the debate around a range of topics, including child welfare law, urban forestry and infrastructure, health policy advocacy, and interacting with women who have experienced trauma.

After the program, we enjoyed the company of some of our favorite Bay Area alums over drinks and appetizers.


Yale Public Voices Fellows – Year Four

YMS2413_0727_M_Juthani-MehtaOn Friday we launched the fourth year of our Public Voices Fellowship at Yale, a university which holds a special place in our hearts and history. Thanks to the brilliant and visionary Yale professors Meg Urry and Laura Wexler, who took a leap of faith with us, Yale was the first university to pilot our Public Voices initiative 3 years ago. The Public Voices Fellowship is now a multi-year national initiative in partnership with top universities and institutions across the country, with some of the most brilliant thinkers on the planet.

Thanks to Yale and all who have made this possible.

We’re thrilled with our newest cohort of 20 fellows who have expertise in the abstract rules of grammar, social norms on college campuses, video games and social media, and more.

2014-15 Public Voices Fellow and Associate Professor at the Yale School of Medicine in the Section of Infectious Diseases Dr. Manisha Juthani-Mehta shares her thoughts on the first convening, and the spectrum of voice and influence:

“Academia is full of many expert and knowledgeable women, and yet, most of us choose to share our expertise with our colleagues alone. This fellowship program has made me realize that we can each choose to pigeonhole ourselves into our own spheres of influence. The alternative is to become champions for the broad range of topics we know best in the national dialogue.”


Launching the Public Voices Fellowship at the University of Texas at Austin

Sonia and Jennifer supporting each other's evidence (front), while Reina and Deborah look on

Sonia and Jennifer support each other’s evidence (front), while Reina and Deborah look on

We are proud to launch our newest Public Voices Fellowship at the University of Texas at Austin. This co-hort of 20 Fellows bring expertise in a wide range of topics, including making theater and media with young people, flexible workplaces and work-life balance, slavery and genealogy, psychology of African-American academic achievement, literature by and for lesbians, Medieval Islamic art and architecture, Mexican American folklore and popular culture, and Native American and indigenous women’s rights.

We were joined by special guests, Janet Dukerich, Senior Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs, and Randy Diehl, Dean of the College of Liberal Arts, who are sponsors and advocates for the Fellowship.

Domino & Eric

Domino & Eric polish their arguments

UT Austin group photo

Our newest crop of Fellows get “jazzy”

Emerging Thought Leaders ‘Write to Change the World’ in Los Angeles

Opinionists froGroup oep Sept 7m all over Southern California gathered at the Ms. Magazine headquarters in Los Angeles to participate in our Fall seminar. Participants from the California State University system, Educators 4 Excellence, Red Thread Advisors, Cal Lutheran University, and others shared their expertise on the utility of college degrees, facebook and political activism, medical sociology, and the juvenile justice system.

Following the seminar we met up with local alums for drinks, appetizers, and good conversation.

We look forward to reading these experts soon!

group 2 oep la sept 7

“The Publisher Came Looking for Me:” How One Alum is Setting the Agenda

Guest Post by OpEd Project Chicago Alum, Meta Brown.

Meta Brown headshot 2At the April 2013 OpEd Project workshop in Chicago, facilitators Michele Weldon and Katherine Lanpher did an amazing job of unearthing the accomplishments of the attendees. It was a real-eye opener as we went through the “I am an expert in” exercise, and the seemingly commonplace group of faces surrounding me revealed themselves as authorities in topics ranging from natural African-American hairstyles to the legal rights of immigrants in the United States. What an inspiring experience.

Since attending that workshop, I’ve published more than 20 new articles in industry publications, launched a blog on women in analytics that is drawing attention from journalists, and published 3 books. My new book, Data Mining for Dummies, will be out in September 2014. To many readers, the For Dummies book defines the subject, so I could not have hoped for a better opportunity to set the agenda in my profession. And here’s something I want you to know: the publisher came looking for me, based on the work I had already done. There’s living proof that sharing your knowledge and voice will lead to good things.