The OpEd Project is social venture founded to increase the range of voices and quality of ideas we hear in the world. We have a nonprofit and a for-profit arm (the revenues from which support our nonprofit activities). We launched with support and seed funding from Echoing Green in 2008. Our starting goal is to increase the number of women thought leaders contributing to key commentary forums—which feed all other media, and drive thought leadership across all industries—to a tipping point. We envision a world in which the best ideas—regardless of where or whom they come from—will have a chance to be heard and shape society and the world. (Read more on why we got started.)
What we do: Working with universities, think tanks, foundations, nonprofits, corporations and community organizations across the nation, we scout and train under-represented experts (especially women) to take thought leadership positions in their fields (through op-eds and much more); we connect them with our international network of high-level media mentors; and we vet and channel the best new ideas and experts directly to media gatekeepers in all media platforms. We offer customized multi-day and multi-week programs for organizations, and we run day-long programs open to the public (40% on scholarship) in major US cities. We also run year-long fellowship programs for top faculty at select universities. Our dynamic, game-inspired programs are built on experimental, transformational learning around thought leadership, and address big questions, including: What do you know, Why does it matter, and How can you use it to change the world?
Our Vision is to create a sea change in our world's conversation by empowering a wave of new voices to join the important public conversations of our age, to take our equal place as narrators of the world, and to encourage and refer others to do the same—creating a multiplier effect that will alter the patterns of under-representation in media inboxes and outlets, and expand the earth's talent pool. Our vision is also for a truly merit-based public debate. Rather than demanding editors meet gender quotas (perhaps at the expense of publishing the best op-eds), The OpEd Project presumes we are all equally smart, talented and valuable – and will be equally represented in public debate if given the opportunity.
Why this matters: We - our leaders and the public - are not getting the information and ideas we need to make the best decisions. Our world conversation is currently an echo chamber that reproduces the same narrow range of (85% male) voices over and over. Even worse among academics: a May 2008 Rutgers University study found that 97% of op-eds by scholars in the Wall Street Journal are written by men. What is the cost to society when so many of our best minds and best ideas are left out? What could we accomplish if together we invested in our missing brain power?