Why Women Gas Off Less Than Men in Print

Just as there are very few women in the higher echelons of corporate America, as it turns out, there are also very few women on the op-ed pages of American media. A recent Columbia Journalism Review story by Erika Fry points out that women wrote only 20 percent of the op-eds in the nation’s leading newspapers such as The New York Times and the Wall Street Journal between September to December last year. What’s more, she notes:

 women were practically absent in the debate of many hard news subjects, with their opinions accounting for 11 percent of commentaries on the economy, 13 percent on international politics, 14 percent on social action and 16 percent on security. Perhaps just as striking, women produced just over half—53 percent—of commentaries on “women’s issues”

The standard explanation of course would be that editors are sexist and prefer male over female writers. And if women were being rejected at a higher rate than men, that would make sense. But there is no evidence of that. The truth is that women actually submit far fewer pieces than men. For example, Sue Horton, the op-ed editor of the Los Angeles Times notes that she gets 100 submissions a day, the overwhelming majority of which are men. In 2008, The Washington Post’s op-ed editor, Autumn Brewington, estimated the rate was nine to one.

Women couldn’t be writing less because they can’t write. After all, even Sage Larry Summers questioned only women's math and science ability, not their writing ability. Fry suggests that women write less because they are far more picky than men about when and what they choose to write about. She notes:

anecdotally, submissions from women are more likely to be from writers who are particularly informed, while a much greater share of submissions from men are “dinner party op-eds”—pieces written because the author has an opinion on the subject, not because of any particular standing or expertise. Editors shared similar stories about why solicitation efforts sometimes fail: Brewington and Horton both say women are more likely to turn down requests for a solicited piece, often because they are too busy to do it well. Men, on the other hand, are more likely to accept the invitation without hesitation.

But why do women choose to opine only when they know something about a subject or have something interesting to say? It could be their social conditioning that discourages them from mouthing off just for the heck of it. It causes them to hesitiate to commit words to paper unless they feel that they have something really important to say, unlike men, who suffer from no equivalent qualms because they are raised to be self-confident. I think there is something to that.

But the more plausible explanation in my non-scientific opinion that I will now mouth off is that women choose to write less for the same reason that they choose to pursue CEOship in companies less: They are not interested in worldly success (for many possible reasons), and therefore simply don’t get the same thymotic high that men do when they become CEOs or see their byline in print. Therefore, female writers are perfectly willing to sit back and pursue other goals unless something really, really grabs their interest and attention. They are more interested in quality assignments that bring them inner satisfaction than quick-and-dirty pieces that get their name in circulation.

One could conclude from all this that this is just another way in which women are more sensible than men. But then that would only invite an angry reaction from H&R’s predominantly young, white, male readers eager to be in print.

So go for it.

(For more fodder for attack, check out my recent piece along the above lines, "Jack Welch vs. Feminists: The Dumb Debate Over Female CEOs.")

H/T: Virginia Postrel

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  • ||

    The answer is TESTOSTERONE!

  • &&&||

    The state classifies estrogen as an environmental toxin while testosterone is a controlled substance. Just something to think about.

  • mr lizard||

    Am I the only one turned on by the article picture?

  • Lost_In_Translation||

    male gaze!!!

  • ant1sthenes||

    Maybe "office bondage chick" will compete with lobster girl in popularity?

  • Bill||

    The self-confidence hormone!

  • ||

    One could conclude from all this that this is just another way in which women are more sensible than men. But then that would only invite an angry reaction from HR’s predominantly young, white, male readers eager to be in print.

    Oh, Shikha, such excellent trolling. But you should have added angry to white, male readers and taken off the young part. I mean, do you know how old ProL is? He's like, 80, or something.

  • CE||

    I'm not exactly young either. Next Tuesday I'll be voting for Ron Paul for president for the 4th time.

  • ||

    NEEDS MOAR ANGRY

  • pmains||

    He ran in '88, 2008 and this election cycle. IIRC, this is only his 3rd bid. Did you write him in for another presidential election (NTTAWWT)?

  • Spiny Norman||

    '88 LP primary?

  • ||

    There was the little known run he made in 1832.

  • plu1959||

    I'm old. And tired. So very, very tired...

  • juris imprudent||

    But then that would only invite an angry reaction from HR’s predominantly young, white, male readers eager to be in print.

    I'm young... in geologic time.

  • ||

    Reason was better when Virginia Postrel was provoking the white, unable-to-mature, beta male audience that reads it.

  • R C Dean||

    Fry suggests that women write less because they are far more picky than men about when and what they choose to write about.

    Of course, the range of possible explanations runs all the way from "Because men are evil sexists" to "Because men are stupid".

    The notion that women are reluctant to express their opinion on subjects which they are less than expert on is risible. To any married man, anyway. Why women, who are perfectly willing to talk at length on subjects which they have no particular knowledge and expertise on, suddenly become reticent when faced with a keyboard, is a mystery.

  • JW||

    The notion that women are reluctant to express their opinion on subjects which they are less than expert on is risible. To any married man, anyway.

    OK, you said it betterer than I was about to.

  • Paul.||

    "Because men are evil sexists" to "Because men are stupid".

    The truth is somewhere in between.

    To any married man, anyway. Why women, who are perfectly willing to talk at length on subjects which they have no particular knowledge and expertise on, suddenly become reticent when faced with a keyboard, is a mystery.

    *Boom* nailed. Someone get this man an internet, on me.

  • Paul.||

    Rasheed: I don't recommend the Calabar beans. They are used to see if your wife is cheating on you. The innocent eat at once; they choke and spit them out. But the guilty eat cautiously, slowly, which makes the poison work. Soon, she is crying out in pain. That's how you can tell.
    Spike: Thanks, but I'm not married.
    Rasheed: Now that is true happiness.

  • PapayaSF||

    For many people (especially women?), talking is more fun than writing. Also, professional writers often say that you shouldn't talk about what you are writing, because it "releases the pressure" that you need for writing. So maybe talking more means writing less.

    Years ago I worked for a small specialized publication that was open to any writer knowledgeable on the subjects covered, and we sometimes got angry letters asking why we didn't have more women writers. The answer was that very few women writers ever submitted anything.

  • wareagle||

    talking is also something frequently done in a "safe" zone of friends and people who may not call bullshit if you are just ranting. Putting those thoughts on the Internet goes beyond that and opens the writer to criticism.

  • fish||

    NO!!!!! Not criticism!

    Wahhhhhhh!

  • VG Zaytsev||

    To any married man, anyway. Why women, who are perfectly willing to talk at length on subjects which they have no particular knowledge and expertise on, suddenly become reticent when faced with a keyboard, is a mystery.

    Because the keyboard is a hated symbol of patriarchic oppression, so recent in the gender memory.

  • ||

    I called my wife over to read your comment. I was snickering....she read it and just walked away with her jaw set. She didnt say a word.

  • JW||

    Be sure to let us all know what the payment required was, for your eventual forgiveness.

  • ||

    It will end up being a 'win for her'-'double win for me' situation, but I cant discuss those kinds of things on a site like this.

  • &&&||

    If only Reason employed someone with big city daily editorial board experience he might offer something more insightful on the topic at hand.

  • Paul.||

    I for one cannot wait for the comments from our fellow female libertarians on this issue.

    That is, if we can find:

    1. A female libertarian.
    2. A female libertarian who's willing to spout off on something they know little about.

    Should I hold my breath?

  • A Serious Man||

    Banjos, Nicole, Kaptious Kristen...and that's all I got.

  • Lord Humungus||

    and the rare appearance of Ms. Flashman

  • JW||

    ifh, Hell's Librarian, Bronwyn and Mad Biker (who haven't been seen in a long while)...

  • JW||

    Dagny T....

  • Brandon||

    She's Canadian. Doesn't count.

  • Silver Fox||

    There's also me.

  • BakedPenguin||

    rac3rx

  • JW||

    Restoras? Or am I disremembering things?

  • Coeus||

    pagan priestess

  • AlmightyJB||

    There used to be a strip club next to my favorite bar called The Silver Fox. Depending on what night you went the girls were either all hot or all ugly. Never seemed to be a mix. Kinda odd .

  • Broseph of Invention||

    Did you control for your drinking?

  • ||

    Does Jennifer still lurk here?

  • Killazontherun||

    She'll show up in a rare thread.

  • &&&||

    He said "female libertarian" not "hysterical progressive democrat".

  • ||

    Hey now. There are dozens of us! Dozens!

  • BarryD||

    Along similar lines, it's clear that Peggy Noonan knows where some bodies are buried, because I have no clue why she's paid to "gas off".

  • Bill Turner||

    Same reason Martha Stewart got a cooking show, apparently.

  • pmains||

    Sometimes I wonder what my mom thinks about current events. Of course, finding out directly would mean actually calling her, so that's out. A good proxy is to read Peggy Noonan's column.

  • BarryD||

    Your mom thinks that the reason for inner city gang violence is that men no longer wear tuxedos while jogging?

    Dude, I'm sorry.

  • pmains||

    Sounds about right. That and both are Irish Catholic, conservatish, like Ronald Reagan but aren't terribly ideological.

  • ||

    This is such sweet trolling. GENDURR WARS. I guess I try to avoid intentionally sounding like a complete tard on topics where other people clearly know a lot more than I. There is something to be said for knowing when to shut up and learn something. But I'm clearly also fond of contributing nothing at all of substance. So, a bit of a mixed bag.

  • Paul.||

    Ok, we got one, can we get two?

  • ||

    Hugh's a chick, right? And since Warty is omnisexual, doesn't that sort of make him kinda partially a bit female?

  • AlmightyJB||

    I don't know? Hasn't he been going to STEVE SMITH'S RAPE SCHOOL? Aren't those classes partially designed to destroy any traces of femininity?

  • ||

    Fuck, did someone say (or perhaps even just think) the word "cunt" again? That explains everything.

  • AlmightyJB||

    I wasn't thinking about the word so much as the actual body part. But that's pretty much all I think about. That and boobies.

  • BakedPenguin||

    Don't say that word. You'll drive yourself away from H+R.

  • juris imprudent||

    Now that you mention it, the c-word is part of the Game of Thrones drinking game.

  • BarryD||

    All I know, Dagny T., is that your posts are incredibly sexy.

  • plu1959||

    Nonsense. It's a known fact that libertarian "women" are just men with breasts.

  • AlmightyJB||

    That's not true! All internet women are super hot nubile contortionist who are are always naked and horny when they are typing.

  • Brandon||

    That was my impression.

  • Rimfax||

    That's "moobs" to you, mister!

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    It's because the ladies would rather spend their time clucking at each other on the phone. Either that, or their men simply don't have time to devote telling them what opinion to write in their columns. Also, they're all written out after they finish their diary entries.

  • Paul.||

    Plus, it's hard to wax philosophical when you're busy changin' diapers, cookin' up varmints and cleanin' out the cave.

  • Broseph of Invention||

    90% of H+R readers are women, but most are too thoughtful to post.

  • Flemur||

    "One could conclude from all this that this is just another way in which women are more sensible than men."

    Your silly articles put lie to that notion.
    (Yes, I should have known better...)

  • Mickey Rat||

    "One could conclude from all this that this is just another way in which women are more sensible than men."

    You just keep tellling yourself that, little lady.

  • AlmightyJB||

    Hey Shikha, if you want to learn about men, David Brooks is not the person to look to. Just sayin'

  • plu1959||

    Disparate impact! Systemic discrimination! You're all just refusing to see it!

  • John Thacker||

    I thought that Shikha's recent post commenting on happiness research and homemakers was a bad idea, because happiness research in my mind tends to be pretty bad and give whatever answer one wants.

    For example, there's this study showing that people who are sexist, both men and women, are happier.

  • Rick O'Shay||

    Because why talk about morals, economics, and politics when you can talk about purses and shoes and live in a little princess dreamland. Growing up, girls are more often protected from scary ideas and seldom forced to acknowledge how fucked up the world is. I've got a twin sister and our world and political views are night and day.....well actually I don't think she has any.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    I hope the ropes aren't too tight on that tied-up girl in the photo. I am worried about it, sociologically speaking.

  • BarryD||

    It's simple. Illegal immigrant op-ed writers took their jobs!

  • Banjos||

    Huh, this might be one of the few times that I agree with Shikha.

    My anecdote: When sloopy and I were less lazy and writing for our blog, sloop with hop on the internet, find a slew of stories and write post after post of his opinion on the stories like a shit throwing monkey. He would get annoyed that I would produce so little. It wasn't because I wasn't trying, I scoured the web for articles and didn't feel like I was knowledgeable enough to add anything of significance.

  • sloopyinca||

    Kiss my ass.

  • ||

    DON'T CROSS THE STREAMS!

  • ||

    Yeah, you'll get a urinary tract infection.

    hth

  • ||

    That's what I like about you, Jimbo. Your diseased mind turns harmless Ghostbusters quotes into water sports jokes. I admire that.

  • ||

    My diseased mind turns, "How was your day?" into a scat reference.

  • Paul.||

    It wasn't because I wasn't trying, I scoured the web for articles and didn't feel like I was knowledgeable enough to add anything of significance.

    That's why I almost never contribute anything to Wikipedia. There's really nothing I can add to the Buffy the Vampire Slayer page.

  • sloopyinca||

    When Banjos and I were doing our blog, Banjos would sit and read story after story on the internet and wouldn't post any of them to our blog. She would get annoyed because I had so much to say on so many different issues. Perhaps she had nothing of consequence to add to the topics, but I found it easier to learn about issues by writing about those issues, while she chose to be a spectator instead of a participant.

  • Banjos||

    Suck my balls.

  • AlmightyJB||

    Short honeymoon:)

  • Paul.||

    But long courtship!

  • mustard||

    You mean your tulpas ;)

  • Tulpa the White||

    And yet she has no qualms about publicly discussing the size evolution of her fun bags.

  • AlmightyJB||

    That's what internet women are for dammit.

  • ||

    She is quite knowledgeable about that subject, dumbass.

  • mustard||

    True. TBH I couldn't tell you which of my little tulpas is hanging low from day to day.

  • sloopyinca||

    And yet she has no qualms about publicly discussing the size evolution of her fun bags.

    They're not fun bags, Tulpa. They're magnificent milk-globes.

  • Tulpa the White||

    You say tomato, I say tomato.

  • Banjos||

    We'll hold a vote. Those who wish to continue to read updates about my breasts say "aye". All opposed say "nay".

  • Tulpa the White||

    I'm voting present.

  • shamalam||

    Aye.

    It can't be any worse than the average comment here, and it is something I am generally interested in.

  • ||

    I dont think there is a straight man in the world who doesnt find almost anything about breasts interesting, sexual or not, and the owner of them is irrelevant. We like boobs. Boobs are good.

    Anything you have to say on the subject is interesting at any time.

    So....aye.

  • fish||

    ...or photos. Photos would be good.

  • Chupacabra||

    ...and videos. Videos would be better.

  • Coeus||

    breasts interesting, sexual or not, and the owner of them is irrelevant. We like boobs. Boobs are good.

    You sure about that?

  • ||

    I did qualify that with 'straight'.
    Yikes that photo gives me the heebie jeebies.

  • Killazontherun||

    Actually, I hate seeing milk pop out of them. So utilitarian, and that to me is dirty.

  • Coeus||

    Actually, I hate seeing milk pop out of them.

    So Chuckie is right out then. He lactates in anger at least once a day over the thought that someone, somewhere might be doing things he doesn't approve of.

  • JW||

    Those who wish to continue to read updates about my breasts

    Words without pictures are confusing.

  • AlmightyJB||

    Aye. Duh.

  • Tulpa the White||

    while a much greater share of submissions from men are “dinner party op-eds”—pieces written because the author has an opinion on the subject, not because of any particular standing or expertise.

    See Paul Krugman, Ezra Klein, and David Brooks.

  • Paul.||

    Try mentioning some men.

  • AlmightyJB||

    no shit:)

  • mustard||

    FUCK YOU. I propose we call a testicle a tulpa from now on in your dishonor, you hack.

  • AlmightyJB||

    I will say that I've been pleasently surprised at a number of the women sports reporters. Many of them are pretty knowledgable and they're hot too.

  • ||

    As I said in another thread, this time with attribution:
    That's right, the women are smarter
    That's right, the women are smarter
    That's right, the women are smarter
    The women are smarter, that's right!
    - Norman Span

  • GILMORE||

    Norman will be hearing from Harry Belafonte's legal team shortly.

  • Bernieyeball||

    Clearly the more important issue is "Why Women Gas Off Less Than Men..."!
    In fact that's all of the title I had to read to think it to be the subject of the article.
    "At last," I thought, "a libertarian issue I can identify with."
    Seriously guys, how many flatulent women have you known in your miserable lives?
    They don't fart they toot.
    Now get a group of men around the campfire eatin' beans well...
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R6dm9rN6oTs

  • Rasilio||

    I don't know, my wife gets pretty embarrassed after eating a pizza (gluten intolerance), personally I find it hillarious. Not because I find flatulence funny, but because it embarrasses her so, and really what's the point of spending your whole life with someone if you can't make fun of their embarrassing bodily functions.

  • ||

    I guess I should read the article. I saw "gas off less" and assumed the worst. I hate getting the ol' dutch oven.

  • SugarFree||

    Known in Merry Old England as a "Cotswold Bumbershoot."

  • Brandon||

    This never would have happened if Postrel were still here.

  • Old Mexican||

    Just as there are very few women in the higher echelons of corporate America, as it turns out, there are also very few women on the op-ed pages of American media.
    Sorry to say it, but the reality is that women have no balls.

  • Old Mexican||

    Just as there are very few women in the higher echelons of corporate America, as it turns out, there are also very few women on the op-ed pages of American media.


    Sorry to say it, but the reality is that women have no balls.

  • juris imprudent||

    Thank you Caption Obvious!

  • GILMORE||

    the reality is that women have no balls.

    Actually, one time I was really drunk at this weird bar called Lola's, and this beautiful blonde with really big hands started talking me up...

  • Broseph of Invention||

    So long as the C-O-L-A, Cola is 16 oz. or less.

  • Old Mexican||

    One could conclude from all this that this is just another way in which women are more sensible than men.


    Women are more sensible than men, that is incrontrovertible. They sense cold better than men and so they wear the front-buttoned granny sweaters at work, and feel hot when it's only 79 fucking degrees outside.

  • juris imprudent||

    Clearly Jezebel needs to be better represented in the MSM.

  • Pound. Head. On. Desk.||

    H/T: Virginia Postrel

    Nick and Matt have done great things with the magazine and all the rest, but I miss Virginia Postrel.

  • shamalam||

    But then that would only invite an angry reaction from HR’s predominantly young, white, male readers eager to be in print.

    Who you calling "young"? Ya whippersnapper!

  • ||

    yeah, I am lost on the young part. Shikha just assumes that all the juvenile snarks and jokes coming from the males here means that we are young. Like most women she hasnt come to the realization that males never really grow up. We are all , to some degree or other, stuck at 14 years old.

  • Killazontherun||

    That was indeed a good year.

  • Lost_In_Translation||

    So in a way, she's not wrong, she should have just said "immature, white, male readers"

  • Bill||

    Or maybe that's her kink. Just as we imagine the chicks on here are all hot, she imagines the dudes are all young.

  • Broseph of Invention||

    "Women aren't interested in worldly success because worldly success requires benefiting others in some way, and they only really care about benefiting themselves. Using the fun boys in their early 20's (wild days!) and ditching them for the successful, hard-working guys who they ignored earlier in their late 20's (settling down!) is perfectly consistent with the principle that they come first and screw the world and everyone else. The only thing happy about the ending of "500 Days" is that JGL gets the Asian/Indian girl, while Miss free spirit bangs-meets-body goes off to ruin some other gullible schmuck's 1.3 years. When you're spoonfed like a princess your whole life, your hands are generally free to do other things."

    /young white male

  • GILMORE||

    It could be their social conditioning that discourages them from mouthing off just for the heck of it

    Heh? Wtf. Womens I know needs more that 'social conditioning', methinks~! Maybe its because I like in NYC and everybody is a @(*(#@ know-it-all bitch, including the women.

    That said, for a couple of years I sent angry rants at least once a week to the NYT. It was a hobby. That, and the NYT is just appalling sometimes. Upside - I got in print like 3 times. Once in one of those longer editorial things they print in the Sunday paper. SCORE ONE FOR THE ANGRY WHITE MALE HOOYAA!

  • Coeus||

    Why does everyone always overlook incentives? Fame is the only male sexual equivalent to a rockin' pair of tits.

    The reply to this unfortunate fact is usually "unfair" and "patriarchy". You think guys actually prefer it this way? Why don't you ask all the guys who go to the gym 5 times a week if they wouldn't prefer their pecs to have the same sexual market value as a pair of tits.

  • GILMORE||

    Yeah, whats up with the whole, "young" steez? Every Reason reader drink-a-thon get-together I've attended has been with perps that were mostly in their 30s. Generation X aint young anymore baby. But! we do still look good. (preens) Also, I don't think young people actually read anything anymore. They have the attention span of a Tweet.

  • Lost_In_Translation||

    I'm too lazy to read all the comments, but is the "Op-ed" a dying part of a dying industry anyway, populated mostly by angry AARP members? Who cares that women are not participating? They also are not big into civil war reenactments. Is that a gap that needs to be filled?

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    Civil War reenactments are cool! Almost as great as the original, if you ask me.

  • General Butt Naked||

    H/T: Virginia Postrel

    Is this a DRINK!?

    I feel that this should be a DRINK!.

  • ChrisO||

    Women seem to be more heavily represented in the Talking Head Bozo Brigade on cable TV news, so maybe they just have a better sense of where the real money is.

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