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Newsletter 5.31.19


This week is a special one –– along with keeping up with the latest on women, I started as a full-time product management intern at Google in NYC. And as with every new job, I am reminded of the challenge of assimilating in a new place. However, I take it as a great thing and embrace the discomfort as an adventure worth getting used to. As you should with any opportunity, you stick to your guns and find your way. Taking inspiration from this week's featured women, I'm happy to share how leading women in various industries have fearlessly chosen their own paths and saying f**k it to fulfilling expectations.

This week's newsletter features commentary on embracing one's unique style and identity and owning your own story and ambitions as well as features with two strong women in finance and film. Also find our May Letter From the Editor on doubling one's efforts to double the numbers to achieve gender parity.

Cheers to the future,
Maya Frai, Founder of Let's Hear It

The latest news on women.
U.S. Women’s Soccer Players to Launch Business
“Megan Rapinoe, Tobin Heath, Christen Press, and Meghan Klingenberg, who have been on the U.S. team—three of whom are among 28 plaintiffs in a gender-discrimination lawsuit against U.S. Soccer—are starting a clothing line called Re-Inc to suggest re-invention or re-definition—is to increase the ranks of female business owners and seek investment from women and minorities in the largely male-dominated fashion and venture-capital worlds.” WSJ, May 26, 2019

Endeavor IPO Filing Shows What the Firm Is Missing: Women
“Endeavor has just one woman on its executive team and none on its board of directors. Among ten executives, directors, and one board nominee named in the prospectus, 49-year-old Chief Human Resources Officer Kerry Chandler is the sole female. 'It is appalling that in this day and age, a company would prepare to go public with a board that does not have any women represented. Not only is it insulting and outdated, it’s bad for business,' a spokesperson for Time’s Up said." Fortune, May 29, 2019

Serena Williams Won’t Be Silenced. Her Clothes Are Doing the Talking
“That’s where Ms. Williams unveiled her latest Nike outfit — or Nike x Off White outfit (designed by Virgil Abloh, the multi-hyphenate founder of Off-White as well as the artistic director of Louis Vuitton men’s wear). Which was a black-and-white striped crop top, tennis skirt, trapeze-back jacket that flew out like a cape in the wind, and maxi skirt (for photos), all emblazoned with the French words for “Mother, Champion, Queen, Goddess.”NYTimes, May 28, 2019
Publication features on women and their careers. 
The Woman Behind This $117.5M Venture-Backed Co-Working Space is a Black CFO

“I became increasingly aware of the lack of women who looked like me in my industry, and so that impacted the degree in which I pursued being as successful as possible, and one day a CFO. It became part of my drive."

Diedra Nielson, the CFO of The Wing, talks about overcoming implicit bias in finding her own way into the finance industry. Black Enterprise, May 26, 2019
Nicole Kidman Burns Brighter Than Ever

“I was talking to Sunday [Kidman’s daughter] about there being little girls in different parts of this world who don’t own their bodies. A man owns their body. Her eyes were like ‘What?’ We’re trying to educate about those things. But it’s giving the information gently, and then guiding.”

The Big Little Lies star reflects on her career, her marriage, her faith, and the sisterhood of her hit TV show. Vanity Fair, May 31, 2019
Op-eds and letters on advice, experiences, and inspiration.
LHI May Letter From the Editor: Double the Effort, Double the Numbers

It’s surprising to see how we live in a world where a majority of things are designed with men in mind. 

I recently came across past research that showed how cars were designed with a masculine structure in mind, foregoing the more nimble and sometimes dainty female body that represents the other half of drivers. Research conducted in Sweden showed that “modern seats are too firm to protect women against whiplash injuries: the seats throw women forward faster than men because the back of the seat doesn’t give way for women’s on average lighter bodies. The reason this has been allowed to happen is very simple: cars have been designed using car crash-test dummies based on the average male.” Car crash tests serve a historical example of how the outcomes of larger issues like car crashes root back to the systems in place that do not equalize the attention given to both primary user groups. 

It’s not to say that this isn’t changing. One of the ways this is improving is through the recruitment of women to change these processes with the female body in mind. Every year, more and more women are being recruited for industrial design roles with the intention of diversifying the workforce to include more thought-leaders in changing the car design with women in mind. “Things are better now,” said Sharon Gauci, executive director for industrial design at General Motors, who was one of only two women in her industrial design class in college. “But the numbers still aren’t what we’d like them to be. Our industry needs and wants creative people from different backgrounds — women, minorities, everybody.”

Read the full letter here.

I see the greatest opportunity for those who are boldly unique. A seat at the table means I can be myself and draw upon my unique experiences to make decisions and support my portfolio companies in a way that only I can. Our industry thrives when contrarian views are developed over time and implemented without compromise. Conformity is the main villain when we decide to settle for the familiar, ultimately generating stagnant venture returns.

Monique Villa, "Getting a seat at the VC table" –– TechCrunch

Generally speaking, women consider themselves part of the product, while men separate their notion of self from their labor, considering themselves its "creator." Maybe that's another data point for the "men are interested in things, and women are interested in people" argument; maybe men feel less photogenic; maybe being taller makes bird's-eye-view photography easier. 

Emma Ellis, "Why Women are Called 'Influencers' and Men 'Creators' –– Wired

Candice Morgan, head of inclusion and diversity at Pinterest: “There’s a need for creatives to be noncompliant mavericks. We learn processes we are supposed to follow–we may even be shamed for thinking outside of these boxes, Your creativity and unique perspective is a gift and should be explored and shared.”

Zainab Selbi, founder of Women for Women International: “It’s better to feel odd as you speak your mind and live your truth, than to fit in and suppress your heart’s desire.”

Katie Dill, VP of Design at Lyft: “Put equal emphasis on your thinking and your doing skills. A great strategy on its own falls flat without proper execution.”

Talib Visram, "Fast Company’s Most Creative People in Business share advice for new grads" –– Fast Company

Because June 9 can't come fast enough.
Photo: BLL Cast at The Wing x Big Little Lies Event on May 29. 
Big Little Lies: The Show With Basically Every Powerful Woman in Hollywood

“I never even had that many conversations on-screen with women who had the same size part as me. It’s pretty amazing to get to work with this group. I feel like it’s a singular experience I’ll never have again." –– Reese Witherspoon, Actress and Producer

BLL features Nicole Kidman, Meryl Streep, Reese Witherspoon, Laura Dern, Zoe Kravitz, and more. The show is a mix of funny Monterey mom wits with tragic portrayals of domestic abuse, sexual harassment, and internal conflicts. With strong women taking the lead, the show has won 8 Emmy Awards. 

The show will continue exploring the theme of domestic abuse and how it impacts each of the women’s lives. To that end, the Wing event was hosted in conjunction with National Network to End Domestic Violence, with items from Big Little Lies–themed capsule collections by brands Outdoor Voices, Lizzie Fortunato, and Cuyana.

Learn more about BLL here.
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