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The Broadsheet: August 21st

Good morning, Broadsheet readers. Today, we hear from a crowdfunding site with a much larger percentage of women employees than other tech companies in Silicon Valley. Read on to learn why venture capitalists should pay attention.


• Only 14% of CEOs on Inc.’s 5000 list are women. On the magazine’s annual list of the fastest-growing private U.S. companies, hardly any women-run businesses made the cut. Although the 14% figure is low, it is better than a decade ago when just 8% of Inc.’s 5000 companies were led by women. BizWomen


Alibaba leans in. Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba has nine women among its 27 key decision-making partners — triple the ratio of women in senior exec roles and board seats at some of Silicon Valley’s largest companies. Alibaba execs say that the early presence of women in senior ranks helped it retain and recruit top female talent as it grew. Bloomberg

• Meg Whitman surprises investors. The Hewlett-Packard CEO announced on Wednesday that revenue increased for the first time in nearly four years, a sign that Whitman is making headway in her efforts to turn around the company by 2016.   Fortune

Mylan goes after Glaxo’s drug portfolio. The pharmaceutical company run by CEO Heather Bresch is making progress in its bid to buy a $1.66 billion drug portfolio from competitor GlaxoSmithKline, whose president of North American Pharmaceuticals is Deirdre Connelly (No. 29 on Fortune’s MPW List.)  WSJ 

• North Carolina teacher raises $100,000 for Ferguson’s kids. Julianna Mendelsohn started an online campaign to feed Ferguson schoolchildren who are missing out on meals due to the turmoil. “Many children in the U.S. eat their only meals of the day, breakfast and lunch, at school. With school out, kids are undoubtedly going hungry,” she wrote on the campaign’s website.  Think Progress 

• Arianna Huffington hopes you’re not reading this. The Huffington Post editor-in-chief is encouraging workers to actually take the paid vacations permitted by their employers. “Living a life in which we work all the time and never prioritize recharging simply isn’t sustainable — not for individuals, and not for companies either,” she writes.  LinkedIn 

• MOVERS AND SHAKERS: Jackie Woodward, former top marketing exec at MillerCoors, will take on a newly-created global media role for General Mills. Julia Vander Ploeg, former general manager and senior VP at Ticketmaster, is now the first VP of digital at McDonald’s. 


What venture capitalists could learn from crowdfunders 

Crowdfunding website Indiegogo this morning announced that women make up 45% of its overall employees, a figure that far outpaces many other tech companies in Silicon Valley. It adds that 33% of its tech employees are women and 43% of its leadership positions are filled by women. 

Most reporters likely will compare Indiegogo’s encouraging diversity data to the dismal numbers from larger companies like Apple, Google, Facebook or Twitter. But I’d like to compare it to more traditional fundraising platforms: Venture capital firms. 

Only 4% of senior VCs are women, according to an analysis by Fortune’s Dan Primack earlier this year. A report out just yesterday from Reuters revealed that diversity at VC firms is actually going in the wrong direction: 5% of senior venture capitalists were women in 2010. 

Indiegogo also is outpacing VCs when it comes to a more gender-balanced approach to funding. Roughly half of small businesses in the U.S. are founded by women, yet less than 7% of startups that get VC funding have female founders. On Indiegogo, 47% of campaigns that reach their funding target are run by women.

I asked Vivek Wadhwa, a noted diversity expert who has advocated for more diversity in corporate leadership, to explain if there is any connection between the two stunning discrepancies. 

“If hiring and investment were done on a gender-blind basis, women would have the advantage,” says Wadhwa. “On Indiegogo, people are investing on the idea… the company is hiring women for their talent as well.” 

It is time for VC firms to take a page from Indiegogo’s book: Start focusing more on talent and ideas, rather than (perhaps unintentionally) on the gender that may be behind them. 

Read my full story on Indiegogo’s diversity report here on 

What did I miss? Email me at


Entrepreneur calls out tech investor for unwanted advances. European angel investor Pavel Curda is facing public shame after female entrepreneur Gesche Haas outed him for sending her an email asking if they could have sex after a meetup for startup founders. “I believe that [when] women see what I posted, next time it happens they’ll call them out,” Haas told ValleyWag. Curda tweeted later on that he made a mistake, but no one seems to feel sorry for him.  ValleyWag

Is UMass Amherst discriminating against male students? Two lawsuits claim the university is too strict on punishment of male students in Title IX assault hearings. The lawsuits both relate to accusations of sexual abuse mixed with drinking, and claim that blame is disproportionately placed on the male students. The Daily Beast

• Having a daughter may not change how you vote. Recent research suggests that having daughters has led parents to favor political parties with more liberal views on gender roles. A new paper out of the National Bureau of Economic Research, however, found no statistically significant correlation between the sex of a couple’s first child and their political leanings. In short: “The fact that your child’s bedroom is pink isn’t enough to make you more likely to vote red (or blue).”   The Atlantic


9 things that are slower than Mo’ne Davis’ fastball  Makers  

Marvel’s Spider-Woman cover is pretty sexist  Vox  

Airports ban women equality ad  Think Progress  

The fate of feminism in Pakistan  NYTimes

Will this yoga game help gender diversity in tech?  Re/Code 

Maria Sharapova talks beauty  Self 


We generally think of putting on the uniform as something that strengthens somebody. And it was really fascinating to me that these women found it hard to wear a uniform, that it took away something from them, their feeling of femininity... They were searching for that in all kinds of ways.

Author Helen Thorpe talks to <em>HuffPost Live</em> about her new book <em>Solider Girls: The Battles of Three Women at Home and at War.</em>