Selected to the Women’s Media Center’s Progressive Women’s Voices Class of 2013

“You’ve come a long way, baby,” goes the popular slogan to sell Virginia Slim cigarettes.

#WomenRule is the female-centered conference and essays focus of Politico–a favorite information hub of the Washington, DC set.

Indeed, as Helen Ruddy croons, I am Woman. Hear me Roar:

Unless it’s the media.  Although women make up 51% of our nation, men write front-page newspaper bylines at a 3 to 1 ration. Women make up 29% of Sunday morning public affairs shows roundtable guests. These statistics are taken from The Status of Women in the U.S. Media 2013. If you drill down more, controlling for topics (“female” subjects such as work/life balance) and race and ethnicity, the paltry numbers I cited seem like a bonanza.

The lack of women in the media is one wrong the Women’s Media Center (WMC) attempts to right. Founded in 2005 by Gloria Steinem, Jane Fonda, and Robin Morgan, through different programs, WMC addresses if and how women are represented on issues that greatly affect our families, our communities, and our nation. Advancing progressive points of view, WMC has defended conservatives such as Representative Michele Bachmann (R-MN) and CNN host S.E. Cupp with the belief that an attack to one, regardless of political persuasion, is an attack to all. In addition to this advocacy, WMC publishes SheSource to help journalists connect with female experts and runs a series of leadership and training workshops to best prepare women and girls to position themselves in the media landscape.

I am honored to be one of twenty selected into the Women’s Media Center’s Progressive Women’s Voices Class of 2013 and give thanks to Voto Latino’s María Teresa Kumar who tipped me off to this opportunity and recommended me. I began the year-long training last weekend in Washington, DC. Click here to read the press release to find out and connect with these “movers and shakers” including my nine DC classmates:

Heather Arnet

T.F. Charlton

Emma Davidson

Anna Therese Day

Julia Drost

Debbie Hines

Phronie Jackson

Shivana Jorawar

Diann Rust-Tierney

Our three day bootcamp took us through pitch preparations, Op-ed writing, and extensive media training. This is important because our work, though different, is underpinned by our refusal to accept the current status quo in each of our fields: whether it’s Heather’s forthcoming PBS documentary, “Madame Presidenta: How about U.S.?” which questions why our country hasn’t elected a female President; T.F.’s research on race, adoption, and evangelical teachings; Emma’s work to update South Carolina’s Teen Health law to maximize their chances for a better life; Anna Therese’s advocacy on behalf of Syrian refugees after spending years in the region; Julia’s push to secure congressional support of the International Violence Against Women Act; Debbie’s work to increase the reporting of sexual assault and help for victims; Phronie’s quest to increase awareness, testing, and resources for African-American women, the group most likely to contract HIV/AIDS; Shivana’s advocacy on behalf of legal immigrant women to help them secure federal health benefits; Diann’s quest to abolish the death penalty, or my own work to advocate for equal opportunities and social and economic parity for Latinos.

The media is arguably the most powerful tool to change public opinion on an issue. Now, we have more outlets to spread our message. But even new spaces continue to be stubbornly male and white. This year-long leadership and media program is critical because we are learning skills to help us break through the glass ceiling with clear, concise, and effective messages. Harnessed and focused, what we learn can turn passion into action that can eventually make our communities, our country, and our world more inclusive for all.

Where do you see the most glaring absence? Which media outlet is doing it right?

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