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DENTON — Texas Woman’s University has joined a national effort to dramatically increase the influence and contribution of women’s voices in today’s society.

TWU, the nation’s largest university primarily for women, is the first public university to be associated with The Op-Ed Project, a yearlong social venture founded to increase the number of women contributing to key commentary forums – newspaper opinion columns, television and radio talk shows, etc. – that traditionally have been dominated by men. According to the project’s website, 85 percent of the op-eds in the nation’s top newspapers and online sites are written by men.

The Op-Ed Project is conducting Public Voices Thought Leadership programs with a handful of universities including Yale, Princeton, Stanford and Fordham. The TWU program combines TWU faculty members with leaders of nonprofit agencies in North Texas – the first group consisting of both activists and scholars in the national program. For a list of names of the program’s participants, visit www.twu.edu/history-government/op-ed-2012.asp.

TWU began its relationship with The Op-Ed Project by hosting a session on the Denton campus in March 2011. That initial program was funded by The Boone Family Foundation, which, along with The Embrey Family Foundation, saw the opportunity this year to expand on TWU’s commitment to civic engagement with a yearlong program that focuses on increasing the advocacy efforts of North Texas nonprofit organizations.

The project already has seen successful placements. The column “Trafficking Victims Protection Act deserves passage” by participant Katie Pedigo, executive director of New Friends New Life, was published by the Dallas Morning News June 25. In addition, Ellen Magnis, chief of external affairs at the Dallas Children’s Advocacy Center, authored the editorial “The Jerry Sandusky trial and child sexual abuse’s walking-wounded,” which appeared in the United Kingdom’s Guardian newspaper June 20.

“This program is about more than just op-ed columns,” said Dr. Katherine Landdeck, TWU associate professor of history, who is coordinating the TWU program with Dr. Barbara Presnall, professor of government. “It’s about getting new voices into the world of thought leadership – opening the door to those who otherwise might not have the chance to even look in the window of leading new ideas.”

The project will feature four quarterly seminars designed to expand ideas and generate concrete results, editorial support from media mentors and monthly media calls with high-level insiders at media outlets including the New York Times and CNN. For more information, visit www.theopedproject.org.