How Black Women Can Embrace Our Expertise and Make Our Voices Heard

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Leaders at the Op-Ed Project asked me and thirteen other women to introduce ourselves with this statement: “I am an expert in…”The reactions of participants’ discomforts range from verbal resistance of the “patriarchal notion” of expertise to stammering over one’s words: “I am not going to brag; I am too young to have an expert; I’ve only been in my field for ten years.”Ultimately, the Yale doctoral student, the Princeton professor, the nonprofit executive directors, and the consultant to the White House all conceded that they were indeed experts on a topic. So, why is such a simple statement so important for women, particularly Black Women?According to the Op Ed project’s 2012 Byline Report, each year the American Society of Newspaper Editors conducts a survey of newspaper staff demographics. In 2011, 847 of 1,405 daily newspapers (58% of the national total) responded to this survey. . . .

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