Good morning, Broadsheet readers. The Department of Defense came out with a troubling report on sexual assault in the military, and we may be thinking about boardroom gender quotas all wrong. Read on to hear how I learned that all no’s are not created equal. I hope everyone has a restful weekend!
• The top 10 moments for women. Before we ring in the New Year, our friends at Time decided to round up the greatest moments for women in 2014. Mary Barra becoming CEO of GM, Mo’Ne Davis pitching a shut-out Little League game and Malala Yousafzai winning the Nobel were among the selected moments. Click over to see the rest. Time
ALSO IN THE HEADLINES
• Buffett’s big bet. The Oracle of Omaha, Warren Buffett, donated $25,000 to Ready for Hillary, an organization working to get Hillary Clinton prepared to run for president in 2016. In October, at Fortune’s Most Powerful Women Summit, Buffett predicted that Clinton would win. Fortune
• Retaliation served. Over 60% of servicewomen in the armed forces who report sexual assault claim they subsequently experience social or professional retaliation, according to a report by the U.S. Department of Defense. Assault cases also rose from 3,604 in 2012 to 5,983 this year. “There is no other mission in the world for our military where this much failure would be allowed,” said Senator Kirsten Gillibrand from New York. Time
• San Fran leads. Among California counties with at least 20 corporations, San Francisco had the highest percentage of female board directors (17%). Los Angeles had the lowest representation with 7.7%, and one quarter of the state’s 400 largest companies still have no women at all in the boardroom. SFGate
• Get ‘em while they’re young. A panel of women CIOs, including Michelle Garvey at Ann Inc., echoed General Motors’ Alicia Boler-Davis’ comments at Fortune’s MPW Next Gen Summit that we must get girls interested in STEM at an early age if we’re going to fix the gender gap in tech. WSJ
• Resume update: Arden Hoffman, the former head of people operations at Google, is now VP of people at Dropbox. Juli Cook, former EVP of Corbis Images, is now COO of NBBJ, one of the world’s largest architecture firms.
• Quick note. A few readers have asked why I haven’t written about the horrific sexual assault scandal coming out of University of Virginia. The truth? I’m looking for an angle that makes sense for The Broadsheet and for Fortune. I have some ideas that I’ll likely tackle next week, but if you have any suggestions, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Not all no’s are created equal
Meredith Perry knows that she doesn’t fit the mold of a typical tech entrepreneur.
The 25-year-old founder of wireless charging platform uBeam has long blonde hair and an infectious laugh. Unlike her mostly male startup peers, Perry also doesn’t have an engineering degree (she studied astrobiology at University of Pennsylvania) and she doesn’t consider herself to be a coding whiz.
These traits not only make her stand out but, in her mind, also made it difficult for her to get investors to back her company. “If I was some young guy wearing a hoodie coming out of MIT, “ things probably would have been a lot easier, she told me during a panel discussion on entrepreneurship at MPW Next Gen.
After being rejected by “literally hundreds of investors,” things are now going pretty well for Perry. uBeam secured $10 million in October, bringing its total funding to $12 million. High-profile investors – including Andreessen Horowitz, Marissa Mayer and Mark Cuban – all think she’s up to something disruptive.
Success aside, I was fascinated by how Perry, as a college student with no background in tech, kept pushing forward with an idea as crazy as turning sound waves into energy to power our devices. Industry experts told her it was impossible. Investors told her to stop trying. And yet she kept going. How? Why?
Not all no’s are created equal, she explained. Rather than bullishly plowing ahead every time someone told her what needed to change about her product or business plan, she took some of the advice to heart. After all, these experts and investors often knew a lot about the subject at hand.
Perry described this lesson even more aptly in her own words. “Well, there are the as*hole no’s, and then there are the no’s that you actually need to listen to,” she said.
As someone who cringes at the idea of rejection and failure, I took solace in Perry’s amusing remarks. She’s right: Not all no’s are created equal. Separating out the no’s you should pay attention to from those you have to cast aside may just be what separates the entrepreneurs who succeed from those who don’t.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
• Gender in Peter Pan Live. Last night, for NBC’s second live prime time musical, Allison Williams of Girls starred as the play’s namesake lead character. The show should turn into a gender study because unlike the Disney movie, “Wendy is a tween mom and Peter is played by a woman in a drag acting like a boy who won’t grow up, and who willingly answers when Wendy calls him “father” and/or treats him like a son,” writes Time’s Melissa Locker. Time
• Political quotas for men, not women. The problem in U.S. politics isn’t that women are underrepresented, but rather that men are overrepresented. The same could be said for the C-suite and the boardroom. The distinction may sound insignificant, but experts say that quotas for women paint women as outsiders and men as the norm. The Atlantic
• The lifestyles of female chefs. Successful women in food, including Jody Williams of Buvette, answer questions like what is your favorite drink and what is the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning. “A Negroni at Tuscany’s Torre del Lago Puccini during the opera festival,” Williams said to the first. WSJ
ON MY RADAR
29 business predictions for 2015 Fortune
The 50% divorce rate is a myth Quartz
The hidden link between women and war The Atlantic
Understanding when to give feedback HBR
Woman sets ‘Beer Mile’ record NYTimes
Until I hit 'no,' I know I haven't pushed hard enough.Victoria Medvec, the executive director of the Center for Executive Women at the Kellogg School of Managementat Northwestern University, gave women at MPW Next Gen tips for negotiating effectively at work.