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The Broadsheet: July 29th

Good morning, Broadsheet readers. Is Silicon Valley stuck in the 1950s? Read on to see why venture capitalists could have a thing or two to learn from investors on Wall Street.


• Former GM CEO: Only a ‘fool’ would say we set up Barra to fail. If you ask ex-GM CEO Dan Akerson, current chief Mary Barra is not the latest victim of the “glass cliff.” Barra is the first woman to lead a top automaker, and critics allege GM execs set her up to fail by promoting her to CEO right before the latest stint of recalls. “Fools can say anything,” Akerson said, dismissing the allegation entirely. Detroit News

Shelly Sterling beats husband in court. A California judge ruled Monday that Shelly Sterling’s husband, Donald Sterling, is too “mentally incapacitated” to block the sale of the LA Clippers basketball franchise. The decision paves the way for Shelly to proceed with her previously arranged $2 billion sale to former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer.   Fortune

• Goldman Sachs denies sex bias claims. The investment bank is denying allegations by two former female employees that it discriminates against women on pay and promotes a “boys’ club” work environment. The former female employees would like to expand the case to a class action suit of more than 2,300 current and former associates and VPs at the bank over the past decade. Bloomberg


Meet the women who run Capitol Hill. National Journal’s recently released Women in Washington list proves women exercise a great deal of influence in five key policy areas: Defense, education, energy, health care and technology. Notable names to make the mag’s power list include U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell, FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez and EPA Chief Gina McCarthy.  National Journal 

• Lack of paid leave is hurting the U.S. labor force… In the past, the U.S. led developed countries in female labor force participation. Now it lags behind many European nations largely because America is the only developed country not to offer paid maternity leave as federal policy. Just 59% of American workers report that their employers offer them paid leave, according to a report out this month by the White House Council of Economic Advisers. NYTimes

…but Japan may have bigger problems. Women are shunning leadership roles in Japan because a culture of working long hours makes it difficult for women to work and still have a family. This reality is making it difficult for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to make progress in his pledge to get 30% of women into management by 2020.  Female workers make up just over 11% of management roles right now, compared with 43.7% in the U.S.  Bloomberg

Full disclosure: Yesterday’s Broadsheet incorrectly identified the name of the medical tourism company as Planet Hollywood. It is Planet Hospital. I regret the error. 


A blast from the past with Silicon Valley investors 

A slew of recent headlines point to a problem plaguing Silicon Valley: Tech companies founded by women are not getting their fair shots at attracting venture capital.  

The numbers don’t lie: Women founders represent less than 7% of startups with VC funding. Moreover, the stories that are just now coming out of Silicon Valley might be more frightening than the data. “I don’t like the way women think,” a male venture capitalist reportedly told a female startup founder. “They haven’t mastered linear thinking.”  

Is it 2014 or 1950?

Perhaps venture capitalists should look to that original old boys club, Wall Street, which finally is beginning to shake off its traditional thinking.

Following droves of research pointing to companies performing better when women are in chargelarge investment banks are finally starting to seriously invest in women-run companies. Morgan Stanley last year announced a ‘parity portfolio‘ that invests in companies with women on their corporate boards. Barclays has since come out with an index investing in women-led companies. Other efforts, like Sallie Krawcheck’s Ellevate Network, are making news.

Krawcheck, a former Bank of America exec, told us a couple weeks ago that she also sees similarities between Silicon Valley today and what Wall Street was like in the 1980s: “A young, go-go industry with a lot of money sloshing around and a lot of young people in it and people only beginning to learn how to conduct themselves in a business setting,” she said about tech startups. 

Here’s to hoping Silicon Valley can learn from Wall Street and discover the importance of female leadership in business before another 30 years go by. 

What do you think? Email me at with your take. 


Thousands sign petition against NFL. The NFL announced last week that Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice would be suspended just two games after knocking his fiancé unconscious in an elevator. Now, critics of the decision are urging NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to take violence against women more seriously. As of Tuesday morning, an online petition had about 50,000 signatures. The number pales in comparison to the 111.5 million people who watched last year’s Super Bowl, but it could signal the beginning of a larger movement to get the NFL to fix it’s “women problem.”   Think Progress

• The secret language of power. People who speak abstractly are perceived to have more power, according to a recent study from the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. Participants who used abstract terms like “preservative-free” to describe a product were judged by others to be more powerful than those who described the same product in concrete terms like “contains no preservatives.” Apparently, speaking abstractly signals to others that you are willing to be judged for thinking differently, a signal of true power, says the study’s researchers.  HBR 


How to build a feminist workplace  Fast Company 

Is Theresa May the UK’s Angela Merkel?  Financial Times 

Top woman CEO with 9 children doesn’t believe in work-life balance  The Globe and Mail 

Why women entrepreneurs are happier than male entrepreneurs  Fast Company  

The truth about gender discrimination in business school.  Businessweek 

You have to watch this woman recite Beyoncé’s ‘Single Ladies’ as a monologue  Jezabel 


If an employee needs to leave early to take care of a child or a parent or their own self, they should do that. If your employee is suffering some kind of personal crisis it is not acceptable to get rid of her and replace her with a shiny new employee.

Lise Quintana, founder of the San Francisco tech startup Narrative Technologies, tells Fast Company why making accommodations for individual workers is important.