OEP Mentor Editor Joe Loya is an author, essayist, playwright, and contributing editor at the Pacific News Service. His op-eds on politics, religion, criminal justice issues, and other cultural events have appeared in national newspapers, including the Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, Newsday, and the San Francisco Chronicle (two of which, regular readers of this blogs will know, are being monitored in our Byline Survey).
I asked Joe a few of the questions we’ve been asking our other Mentor Editors, in an attempt to better understand the low numbers of women on America’s op-ed pages.
Chloe: Why do you think there are so few women on the op-ed pages?
Joe Loya: One major reason for so few women on the op-ed pages, I believe, is that a very low percentage of op-ed submissions to newspapers come from women, plain and simple (10% at one major newspaper.) The myriad reasons why women don’t submit are not so plain and simple, but the math is.
CA: In your work with traditionally under-represented groups, what has been your greatest obstacle to making their voices heard?
JL: The greatest obstacle I confront when I work with folks from traditionally under-represented groups is convincing them that their perspective would be a valuable contribution to public debate. I have to convince them that they need not have attended some fancy college or taken a ton of writing classes to get published on the op-ed page.
CA: What advice would you give to a young feminist hoping to break into public debate?
JL: Find a writing mentor who will both encourage you and provide practical writing editing advice for your work. Someone who will guide you toward publications that would best showcase your skill and voice. Someone already active in the arena of public debate.
What questions would you ask of a Mentor Editor if you had the chance? Leave them in the comments, and I’ll be sure to ask next time!