Thursday, February 9, 2012

Women and Thought Leadership: The Op-Ed Project partners with Emory University

Catherine Orenstein, Founder of the Op-Ed Project

There is power in changing thought and shifting the public conversation. But many of our thought leaders represented in opinion forums in the print, on-line and broadcast media don't reflect the diversity of voices in our society. For example, over 80% of the op-eds in major newspapers and websites are written by men with a similar percentage of submissions from men. Such pieces shift the conversation, guide public opinion and policy, ultimately, may influence national and international agendas.  

Op-Ed Project workshop group

Enter the Op-Ed Project, a social venture that seeks to mentor and train women and other under-represented thought leaders to enter and change the public conversation.  An intermediate goal, according to Op-Ed founder Catherine Orenstein, is the publication of ideas from new thought leaders, causing a “tipping point,” in public leadership and decision-making. Forming a critical mass of under-represented voices could in fact change the way we view the world and our place in it.  
  Orenstein’s deep interest in the intersection of media and mythology informs her work as a writer and a speaker. She believes the way information is presented, and what we see as fact or fiction, "shapes our ideas about politics, culture and history."  Her deep commitment to helping others find their voice is evident in the way she tells her own stories and crafts her work with universities and other community leaders. 
An Op-Ed Project seminar, led by Orenstein and mentor-editor, Zeba Khan, was recently held at Emory through a collaboration between the Center for Women and the Center for Ethics. A competitive application process brought twenty-one women faculty and graduate student participants from a range of departments across campus.
Op-Ed Project small group session

The workshop provided an opportunity for rich dialogue about compelling ideas, the power of words, and the nature of expertise. Through a variety of exercises participants began to test the waters regarding a compelling idea and to explore techniques for making a powerful case in evidence-based arguments. Participants will continue to connect through Project Op-Ed, having access to national mentor-editors over the coming years. 
The Center for Ethics and the Center for Women are committed to this work of supporting members of the Emory community in speaking up about issues that matter. Two public scholarship workshops (with the Center for Faculty Development and Excellence) are already planned and additional opportunities for deepening this work are being explored. 
Emory Op-Ed Project participants

Kathy Kinlaw is Associate Director of the Emory University Center for Ethics and Director of the Center's Program in Health Sciences and Ethics. She serves as Bioethics Associate in Pediatrics, Emory School of Medicine; and Executive Director of the Health Care Ethics Consortium of Georgia. 

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