Marissa Mayer to the rescue?
Good morning, Broadsheet readers! Women who don’t share their previous salaries with would-be employers end up making less, Microsoft announces paid leave for caretakers, and VCs are asking women entrepreneurs different questions than they do their male counterparts. Enjoy your Wednesday.
• Watch words. In a new study published in Harvard Business Review, a group of researchers studied the interactions between 140 prominent VCs (40% of them female) and 189 entrepreneurs (12% female) at TechCrunch Disrupt New York. While the academics describe all the startups involved as “comparable in terms of quality and capital needs,” the male-led companies raised five times more funding than female-led ones. Why? One factor may be the way the investors questioned founders: They tended to ask men questions about the potential for gains (“promotion questions”) and women about the potential for losses (“prevention questions”). There’s a strong correlation between the type of questions a founder gets and the amount of funding that comes his or her way.
The story reminded me of another HBR piece we covered last month. As you may recall, that study looked at how Swedish government VCs talked about male and female entrepreneurs. The researchers found that the investors tended to describe young male entrepreneurs as “promising,” whereas young female founders were considered “inexperienced.” Male entrepreneurs might be characterized as “cautious, sensible, and level-headed,” while women got “too cautious and does not dare.”
Given the story of Justin Caldbeck and Binary Capital—which is reportedly now shutting down its most recent fund—much of the recent discussion around venture capital and its issues with female entrepreneurs has centered around sexual harassment and predation. But these HBR reports are an important reminder that the solution isn’t simply tossing a few (or even a bushel of) bad apples. The problem is larger—and far more subtle—than that.
ALSO IN THE HEADLINES
• Marissa to the rescue? Speaking at the Stanford Directors’ College Tuesday, former Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer defended Uber CEO Travis Kalanick, suggesting that he was unaware of the toxic culture at Uber because of the company’s fast pace of growth. “I count Travis as one of my friends. I think he’s a phenomenal leader,” she said. “I just don’t think he knew.” Mayer is considered to be a candidate to replace Kalanick as chief of the ride-hailing app. San Francisco Chronicle
• No win. New research from PayScale finds that women who refuse to disclose their salary history while job hunting generally end up earning 1.8% less than women who do give up the details. If a man refuses to disclose his current salary, however, he gets paid 1.2% more. Hopefully, more states and cities will use this as ammunition to ban the question, as Massachusetts and New York City have. Fortune
• Covered in glory. This epic Vanity Fair cover featuring a resplendent, nude, and very pregnant Serena Williams blanketed social media yesterday. The story tells the tale of how Williams and her fiance, Reddit co-founded Alexis Ohanian, met and fell in love. Vanity Fair
• The Caldbeck chronicles. Recode is reporting that years before VC Justin Caldbeck made unwanted advances toward the female founders who recently came forward, he made Katrina Lake, CEO of Stitch Fix, feel uncomfortable enough that she requested his removal as his firm’s observer to her board. After her complaints, Caldbeck’s then-employer, Lightspeed Venture Partners, removed him from the role. Recode
• In it for the long ride? Lisa Klinger, CFO of Peloton, has already taken two companies public, so it’s no surprise that some observers read her hiring as a sign that the startup was gearing up to IPO. Yet Klinger insists that her goal is to turn Peloton into well-run, high-growth company. “We could do an IPO tomorrow, but that’s not what we are here for,” she says. WSJ
MOVERS AND SHAKERS: Twitter has hired Candi Castleberry-Singleton as its new vice president of inclusion and diversity.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
• Fanning the flames. After blasting the media for coverage of what she called “the Trump-Russia hoax,” Deputy White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders got into it with Brian Karem, a reporter for The Sentinel, who said she was “inflaming everybody right here and right now with those words.” Politico
• Power players. Adweek‘s annual list of the most powerful women in sports is out and includes WNBA president Lisa Borders, A+E Networks president and CEO Nancy Dubuc, and International Speedway Corp CEO Lesa France Kennedy, among other fascinating women. Adweek
• Healthy move. Microsoft is upping the ante on paid leave for employees who need to take care of a sick relative. The company is now offering four weeks of paid leave with eight additional weeks of unpaid time. Previously, the company offered 12 weeks of unpaid leave. Fortune
• A bad review. Women and minority actors and stage managers are getting fewer jobs and often wind up in lower-paying shows than white male theater artists, according to a new study. On Broadway and in national tours, women had 35% of the principal roles in plays and 42% in musicals. They held 37% of stage manager jobs and were even underrepresented in chorus roles, at 44%. New York Times
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ON MY RADAR
Meet the woman who just hit Google with a $2.7 billion fine Fortune
USA Gymnastics report calls for sweeping changes in the wake of sexual abuse scandal WSJ
The newest season of X-Files will have no women writers New York Magazine
Queen Elizabeth II is about to receive a huge payday Fortune