When Women Earn the Cover Story
Photo credit: Inc. and Fast Company
When Inc. and Fast Company announced last week that both business publications would have female entrepreneurs on their cover in October, I recognized the meaning of women finally getting their moment, and having their long belated “cover story.” Not only that, but female editors from both publications designed these issues, and female journalists were the ones assigned to tell these stories. Inc. and FastCo are not only flipping the script on the narrative we tell about women in business, but they’re changing the roles of who gets to write that script, while opening the gates even further so more women can storm the castle.
These covers come at a time when, if you checked the current political and cultural climate, life isn’t going so well for women. Every week brings us a new story of a man in entertainment who abused his power and treated women horrifically. You have members of the senate engaging in complex gymnastics to defend Brett Kavanaugh and discredit Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, and you have magazines that represent the pinnacle of editorial excellence like the New York Review of Books and Harpers giving their cover stories, or 7,000 words to men with a long history of abuse against women.
It would seem that we’re presented with two very different realities: the brutal reality of what exists today for women, and the hope for how the future can change and be more inclusive of women.
Both Inc. and FastCo dedicated significant portions of their magazine to recent survey results of female founders and leaders in tech. As is expected, the results are fairly grim. 53% of female founders have experienced harassment or discrimination, only 3% of VC funding goes to female CEOs, and 45% of female founders suffer from depression. Those numbers aren’t to be glossed over. Clearly, “women in power” sounds like a natural progression to some, and to be avoided at all costs by others. So how to bridge the gap?
What we see, both in the survey results, and at our female-led PR firm is that more female tech founders are stepping up to the plate and designing the kinds of workplaces and environments where women can thrive. They are leading the charge. For example, the survey found that 64% of women founders have created paid-family leave policies for all of their employees. If you look at the vast majority of diversity & inclusion leaders in tech, they’re women focused on eliminating hiring bias, creating opportunities for women who already work at the company, and designing policies that make being a parent feel like an asset, not a detriment to the company.
The #metoo era has also ushered in the sense of civic duty amongst female founders. 51% are more politically active than in the 2016 elections, and 22% of female founders have considered running for political office. For female founders, it’s not just business as usual. It’s: let's topple this system that isn’t working for anyone and show others that women can lead by example.
When you think about it, women in tech are mirrors of women in every [fill in the blank] industry. It’s all part of the same ecosystem. It takes drastic measures to clean up. What I’m left with when I think of these two magazines and their survey results is: that the gates might not be fully open for women yet in terms of publishing and representation in leadership, but women are paving their own road to making what was once a dream a reality.