Feud with Trump, Rolling Stone's Women Shaping the Future Cover, Pay and Representation Gap in Tech & Media

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Rolling Stone: Women Shaping the Future

Planned Parenthood President Leana Wen, TV host Tamron Hall, and Connecticut Congresswoman and former Teacher of the Year Jahana Hayes spoke at a Rolling Stone magazine March 20th event at the Altman Building in New York. The event was for media professionals and notables to celebrate Rolling Stone‘s March Issue, “Women Shaping the Future,” featured on the cover are Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and three members of the congressional freshman class—Jahana Hayes, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar. Among the attendees were Piper Perabo of Black Butterfly, Lea DeLaria of Orange Is the New Black, Carla Hall of The Chew and Gail, and Simmons of Top Chef. There were also special afternoon musical performances by Emily King and Grace VanderWaal—interspersed with interviews held on stage. 

Rolling Stone’s Contributing Editor, Alex Morris Kling, moderated some amazing discussions, particularly the one with Tamron Hall, who is launching a new talk show in September. Hall, a television veteran from Texas, vowed that there would be diversity on her staff, which would be reflected in the content. 

Feud With Donald Trump on Social Media

It was a strange week made stranger by the fact that the leader of the free world engaged in a social media feud with the husband of one of his employees, advisor Kellyanne Conway. Her husband, George Conway, is very vocal about his dislike of the President and his desire that his wife leaves the administration. But she has refused to resign, causing much public wierdness. It got even stranger when Kellyanne Conway blamed feminism for the contretemps. “What message would that send to the feminists everywhere who pretend they’re independent thinkers and men don’t make decisions for them?” Conway said on Fox Business Network. “They can talk it, and I can walk it. I can live it.” Charmed, I’m sure!

Women Treatment in Tech

It is no secret that the tech industry is a sausage factory. Women get peanuts in terms of equity compared to their male counterparts at startups in Silicon Valley. “Women make up 33% of the combined founder and employee workforce but hold just 9% of the equity value. The other 91% belongs to men.” An #Angels article on Medium provides a break down of the gap. “Founders: women represent 13% of all founders but own just 6% of all founder equity value. In dollars, the average female founder on Carta owns just 39¢ in equity for every $1 that the average male founder owns.

Employees: women make up 35% of all employees who hold equity, but capture just 20% of the employee equity value. In dollars, female employees on Carta make just 47¢ for every $1 of equity male employees get.”

The article further explains the gap as a result of women founders raising less funds but giving up more shares, having less access to capital, being subject to investors’ and overall industry’s biases, but also dealing with an underrepresentation in venture capital; therefore, not enough women betting on them, lower mastery in negotiation, ending up with a small part of the pie, as women founders tend to have more cofounders, and as a result of all the above, companies founded by women have lower performances.

That said, there are some good news. Young women are taking AP Computer Science exam at record levels, and that probably augurs well for the future of tech in America. “Just 379 girls took the exam in 2016, compared with 2,155 last year, according to (the NYC Department of Education),” writes Selim Algar at the NY Post. “That means that 42 percent of all city kids who took the AP exam were girls—compared with just 28 percent nationwide, the DOE said.” Algar concludes, “In 2016, only 177 New York City girls passed an AP computer-science exam, officials said. In 2018, 1,266 earned the distinction.” The full story here.

Will a woman be President in 2020?

Who will be the first woman President of the United States of America? Chances are it will probably be a Democrat and it will probably occur in our lifetime. Hillary Clinton was the Democrat nominee in 2016, and the number of Republican women in the House is at a low of just 13 in the 116th Congress, down from 23. Thousands of women to run for office in the 2018 midterm elections, largely a result of a revolt against the mood of the country, resulting in a record 102 females serving in Congress. This is good news, because the House and Senate serve as a very reliable training ground for candidates for President.

And there are at present six women candidates—an unprecedented number— competing in the Democratic Presidential primary for 2020.

“Stephanie Schriock, the president of EMILY’s List, and other leaders from some of the nation’s key women-focused political organizations are certain that the narrative has shifted this time around. This election is not going to be about whether the country can elect a woman president, it’s going to be about which woman voters will choose. ‘One of them is very likely to capture the imagination of what can be,’ Schriock told Newsweek. Toni Van Pelt, president of the National Organization for Women (NOW), shared a similar sentiment, telling Newsweek: ‘I do think that we will have a woman candidate coming out of the primary. I don't think any longer that it's ‘if.’ I don’t think this train can be stopped.’” 

There is also a very interesting discussion of the women in the 2020 Democratic primary here.

Representation of Women of color in media

Women of color in the media are not advancing nearly fast enough, according to the report entitled The Status of Women of Color in the U.S. News Media 2018. “Women of color represent just 7.95 percent of U.S. print newsroom staff, 12.6 percent of local TV news staff, and 6.2 percent of local radio staff, according to industry research based on news organizations’ replies to professional association queries," notes the Women in Media Center in a press release. The positive side from online-only publications, there was some growth in women representation, according to the American Society of News Editors.

During this women’s history month we honor the women who blazed a trail for those who would come after. Dorothy Gilliam, the first African-American female reporter at the Washington Post has an amazing story, captured in her new memoir Trailblazer. It is already a difficult time for women of color in the media, but imagine doing so 58 years ago. 

Enter: Dorothy Gilliam. When asked how a more diverse newsroom could lead to greater understanding of the world, Gilliam told Nia Decaille, “I think it’s more important now than ever, because you know the country is so polarized, and so the more you have different communities represented and have people in leadership who can speak to what is going on, the stronger the news media will be.” She continued: “by reporting on what communities are doing, thinking and feeling, the news can inform other communities. It might not end polarization, but it will certainly increase understanding.” The full interview is here.

Cover image via Rolling Stone