Ask a Mentor-Editor: Maura Casey

Yesterday, we asked Mentor Editor and former New York Times editorial board member Maura Casey about why there are so few women – either contributors or columnists – on the nation’s most influential op-ed pages. Her answers were so interesting that we went back for more.

OEP: What is the culture like at The New York Times? Is its op-ed page, and the newspaper in general, a ‘woman friendly’ place? If so, why are there historically so few women columnists and front page bylines by women?

MC: I honestly can’t speak to the culture at the Mother Times. I can only say that I loved my tenure there. I can’t say what the culture was anywhere but the editorial board, which was wonderful, collegial, encouraging and very woman-friendly. I haven’t a clue about the bylines on the front page.

OEP: Did having Gail Collins as Managing Editor of the op-ed page make a difference? If so, how?

MC: I know that Gail Collins was frustrated by the lack of women’s voices on the oped page, and she had numerous meetings about it. If she couldn’t change it,  it makes me pessimistic about what editors can do. That’s why the ground-up approach of The Op Ed Project, while slow, will in the long run bear more fruit.

OEP: Why is it that the NYT’s two current female columnists – Collins and Dowd – seem to do mostly chatty essays, while the male columnists seem to do much more research, reporting, and definitely more international work?

MC: I can’t say why the columnists are different.They have different styles. Nick Kristof has always written on international issues for the Times and it is natural that he would continue that with a column.

Thank you so much, Maura, for your insights. We’ll be talking to more Mentor Editors soon. Are there any questions you want answered? Leave them in the comments, and we’ll pass them on to our Op-Ed Obi-Wans.


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