Prize-winning writer Judy Mann retired her column in the Washington Post last week by calling for more women in news media commentary. In her farewell column, Mann declared her “fervent hope that more and more women will be given space in our newspapers so that women’s voices will be heard.” She continued, “We do have important things to say.” Mann focused particular attention on opening up space for women to comment on the federal budget, the foreign aid budget, the need for international family planning programs, and the global AIDS epidemic. “Women are a majority in the United States,” said Mann. “By rights, in a democracy, we should occupy 50 percent of the slots on the op-ed pages of America’s newspapers. We should occupy 50 percent of the top editorships in newspapers. We should be allowed to bring what interests us – as women and mothers and wives – to the table, and I don’t mean token stories about child care.”
An ardent women’s rights supporter, Mann has written on numerous women’s issues in the Washington Post since the late 1970s. She was the first to report on the gender gap in political issues and candidates, covering the topic when no one thought the gender gap was interesting or important. Mann was also one of the first to report on gender apartheid in Afghanistan, illustrating how important the female voice can be in news media. Throughout her career, Mann has also paid close attention to covering sex discrimination in schools, female genital mutilation, and breast cancer research, among other subjects of particular interest to women.
In addition to her column, Mann has published two books, including The Difference: Growing Up Female in America, which highlights the damaging effects of gender typing of children. Mann, a native of Washington, DC, has also written for numerous magazines, including Ms., and has given numerous radio and television interviews