The Broadsheet: September 9th

September 9, 2014, 11:21 AM UTC

Good morning, Broadsheet readers. Today, we hear from new U.S. Chief Technology Officer Megan Smith on how to get more women into tech. The NFL made a long-overdue decision and we learn that competition may be a creativity killer for women. Have a great Tuesday!


 The highest-paid female CEO in America was born male. Martine Rothblatt last year earned $38 million as CEO of pharma company United Therapeutics, making her the country's highest-paid woman CEO. But, for the first half of her life, Rothblatt (whom we interviewed at the 2013 Fortune Most Powerful Women Summit) was a man. In the latest edition of New York Magazine, Rothblatt outlines everything from being raised in a working-class Jewish family in San Diego to founding her own company to eventually adopting a fascination with artificial intelligence. A long read, but worth the time. NYMag 


 GM recall back-story. During GM's initial recall of hundreds of thousands of vehicles with defective ignition switches, the Detroit automaker's board took a hands-off approach on the issue of vehicle safety, The NY Times reports. Only recently did GM make the issue a priority. There was also concern among board members that CEO Mary Barra had been "given too much latitude" in determining the company's response to the crisis.  NYTimes

 Michelle Obama goes viral. The First Lady is now a "guest curator" for viral news website Upworthy, with a focus on inspiring young Americans to continue their education beyond high school.  Upworthy

Jimmy Choo may launch IPO. The British luxury shoe maker co-founded by Tamara Mellon reportedly could go public in London this month with a $1 billion valuation.  Bloomberg

 These eight women could change the ratio in Congress for good. Elle Magazine spoke with eight female congressional candidates. If they win, and no female incumbents lose, 20% of the House will be comprised of women for the first time ever.  Elle

J.K. Rowling opposes Scottish Independence. The Harry Potter author took to Twitter to express her opposition to the vote on Scotland's independence from the UK. "People before flags, answers but not slogans, reason not ranting, unity not enmity. #bettertogether."   Time


Megan Smith and Mary Grove: We're the ones we've been waiting for

This morning, a new book about Silicon Valley's glaring gender gap entitled Innovating Women: The Changing Face of Technology was released. The author is Vivek Wadhwa, an academic who regularly advocates for more diversity in corporate leadership. To help illustrate the difficulties faced by women seeking to enter the tech industry, Wadhwa asked some high-powered women in the sector to speak out on the issue.

Megan Smith, the newly-named U.S. Chief Technology Officer and a former Google executive, and Mary Grove, Google’s director of global entrepreneurship, are two of the women who wrote chapters for the book. In an exclusive excerpt provided to Fortune, Smith and Grove outline some opportunities to get more women into tech:

We see two important opportunities for the future here:

The first is championing and supporting organizations whose direct mission is to support women. Organizations like Astia, Women 2.0, Vital Voices, the Global Fund for Women, and UP Global are working directly to ensure more women have access to the opportunities they deserve. We both sit on the boards of some of these organizations and are fortunate to witness firsthand how tremendous leadership in action can lead to direct results.

In June 2013, UP Global hosted the Startup Weekend Women’s Edition SF and, with 85 percent women, clocked in with the highest number of women ever at a startup weekend. Many shared how they had long considered participating in a startup weekend event, but once they heard that one was specifically for female entrepreneurs, they jumped at the opportunity and never looked back. UP Global is working on a new initiative with support from Google for Entrepreneurs and Blackstone Foundation called Startup Women, an effort to increase participation of women across UP Global’s programs and help 1,500 women-led startups launch this year.

The second layer is thinking about increasing diversity as a thin underlay across all the work we do globally. We saw this with Manos Accelerator, a new tech accelerator for Latino startup founders; they made a conscious decision to ensure they filled their pipeline with both male and female founders, and subsequently their first class of startups featured five of the seven teams with a female founder. Google for Entrepreneurs launched the global #40Forward effort this year to increase representation of women in forty startup communities with forty partners. Organizations did everything from simply tweak the time of day of their events to launch women-focused accelerators. It’s not just about one organization or one community—the ideas is to shift the way we think about inclusion across the board.

There is enormous potential to tackle the world’s toughest challenges with women and men working together on solutions, tremendous opportunity to improve our communities and our countries and together to elevate our global human condition through entrepreneurship and “10X thinking.” It requires courage, rolling up our sleeves, and moving outside of our comfort zone and our traditional ways of thinking.

Gloria Steinem said, “Don’t think about making women fit the world—think about making the world fit women.” As an industry, we are just at the start of understanding this insight and how we might change and adapt our tech culture to better accommodate so many more innovators.

If not now, when? If not us, who? Take action. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.

What's  your take on Smith and Grove's excerpt? Read the full excerpt here and email me at with your thoughts. 


 Baltimore Ravens terminate Ray Rice. The NFL team cut its starting running back after TMZ published a video of him punching his then-fiancee in a casino elevator. While the NFL now has suspended him indefinitely, the league originally had suspended Rice for just two games. Now, TMZ is claiming that no one from the NFL ever asked the casino owners for the video of the incident before initially punishing Rice. Fortune

Creativity and competition don't mix with women. Workplace teams comprised mostly of women suffer from a shortage of creativity when competition becomes part of the equation, according to a recent study. On the flip side, competition was found to help teams with a majority of male members.  Fast Company


Hair care is a growing business for black women   NYTimes

How $5,000 could equal $600,000 in lifetime earnings  LinkedIn

New service offers taxis exclusively for women  NYTimes

A woman CEO doesn't mean a cure for gender disparity  BizWomen


The world did not accept it. Eventually, you have to get to a point where you realize that it's you, it's who you are and you have to become willing to really let go of your most important relationships  in order to be yourself. When you're gay, you come out every day, because everyone assumes you're straight. You have to be your whole self. You just do. It will kill you not to.

Megan Smith talks to Makers on being a gay woman working in tech.