The Broadsheet: January 30th

January 30, 2015, 12:50 PM UTC

Good morning, Broadsheet readers. Fortune took a hard look at the number of female decision-makers in venture capital as well as the number of high-value tech companies founded by women. Read on to meet the woman behind The Puppy Bowl and to learn what you can expect from sexist Super Bowl ads this year. Enjoy the weekend!


 Not making progress. After a year of talk about the lack of female venture capitalists, not much has changed. A Fortune analysis shows that out of venture capital firms that have raised a fund of $100 million or more since 2009, 5.6% of decision makers are women. Last year, Fortune found that out of VC firms that have raised $200 million, 4.2% of senior partners were women.  Fortune


 Join the Unicorn club. Just four out of the more than 80 tech companies on Fortune‘s Unicorn List are founded by women. A unicorn is a privately-held startup that is valued at $1 billion or more. Aileen Lee, the venture capitalist who originally coined the mystical term, says the number of women reaching that level is not “as dramatic as it should be or we want it to be,” and the number of venture capitalists funding women-led companies are still few and far between. Fortune

 No equal pay. No matter what finance industry jobs MBA graduates pursue, a wage gap exists between men and women. In commercial investment banking in 2014, for example, women made an average of $11,114 less than their male peers. "It's really exponential. It's impacting women's abilities to care for themselves and have an equal voice in their families," said Anna Beninger, director of research at Catalyst.  Bloomberg

  'One of the biggest threats.' Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) told Fortune's Nina Easton that homegrown terrorists, Islamists radicalized online like 2009 Ft. Hood shooter and U.S. Army Major Nidal Hasan, are one of the greatest threats to national security right now.  Fortune

 The woman behind the Puppy Bowl. I'm going to make a bold statement here: Melinda Toporoff might have the best job ever. As the executive producer of the Puppy Bowl, Toporoff has been running the extravaganza of cuteness for 7 years. “I carry around puppies in my pockets for petting throughout the day,” she said. “I joke but the truth is while we’re shooting, there’s always some puppy on my lap in the control room.” Beginning at 3 pm EST on Sunday, Puppy Bowl XI will play for 12 consecutive hours -- even during the big game.  Fortune

Mixed bag. Yesterday, I asked for responses to Newsweek's seemingly sexist cover image for a story on sexism in Silicon Valley. Some people responded that the image was "jaw-dropping," "disgusting" and "offensive." Yet the majority of Broadsheet readers who responded felt differently. Cynthia Francis, a serial entrepreneur who has worked in Silicon Valley since the 1990s, told me that she initially thought the cover was too provocative, but then read the story and felt differently. "I nodded my head throughout, and thought of my own stories, and those of my friends and peers. Got angry. And sad. And then I looked at the image, and the headline, again. The cover is perfect."

 MOVERS AND SHAKERS: Rebekka Bay, a designer recruited in 2012 to reboot Gap, has been ousted from her role as creative director.


Expect lots of puppies, little cleavage in Super Bowl ads

Companies shelling out $4.5 million for every 30-second spot during this Sunday's Super Bowl will be playing it safe -- really safe.

While companies like GoDaddy and Chrysler previously pushed the envelope when it comes to gender, this year's advertisers are going out of their way to showcase powerful women and nurturing men.

Actress Mindy Kaling is starring in an ad for Nationwide Insurance, for example, and a Dove For Men's spot highlights a series of men acting like caring fathers. T-Mobile, which won't reveal details of its ad until the big day, told Fortune that it will feature "two female comedians known for challenging the status quo." Even Victoria's Secret is toning its ad down this year by featuring its models fully-clothed in football gear.

As Americans focus more on how women are portrayed in the media, advertisers are hyper-aware of the nearly 50 million women who will be watching the big game. "I think we are going to see lots of kitties and puppies and not as many boobies," says Samantha Skey, chief revenue officer of SheKnows Media. "It is a tricky and tense moment for advertisers who are jumping in on this huge controversial event."

The controversy Skey is referring to is the NFL's ever-evolving response to its domestic violence scandal. It started last year when Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice punched his then-fiancée unconscious in an elevator. Since then, several others cases of players allegedly abusing women have cropped up, suggesting a systemic problem. The NFL plans to respond directly to the problem by sponsoring the first-ever domestic violence awareness ad during the Super Bowl.

To read my full story on, click here


This month, The Broadsheet is partnering with our friends at Food & Wine to bring you news and inspiration from the top women in food and drink. Here are my two favorite stories from this week. 

'Snackapreneurship' in her blood. Nicole Bernard Dawes is the founder of Late July Organic Snacks, and her late father founded Cape Cod Potato Chips. After her dad, who was also her business partner, passed away, she wasn't sure how she could move forward. But her "frustration and sadness turned to empowerment as I recognized the female entrepreneur I was becoming and just how strong I had always been on my own."  F&W

Women can win food. The James Beard Foundation -- often referred to as the Oscars of the food world -- has seen a large cohort of women win awards recently.  F&W


Let's talk domestic violence, not football. UltraViolet, a feminist group, released a provocative ad focusing on domestic violence in the NFL and calling on Commissioner Roger Goodell to resign.  Fortune

A hard line on hard alcohol. Dartmouth College is banning hard liquor on campus in an attempt to curb alcohol-related medical issues and prevent sexual assault. “Colleges and universities across the country face the issues I’ve detailed today. We are not alone in facing them. But we will take the lead in saying `no more,’” Dartmouth President Philip Hanlon said.  NYTimes

A first for DisneyPrincess Elena of Avalor, the first official Disney Latina princess, will star in a television show on Disney Junior next year.  Mic

Share today's Broadsheet with a friend:


Meet the Queen of Code  FiveThirtyEight

How to change the ratio of women on boards  Fast Company

Casting the women in Steve Jobs' life  Fortune

Girls are beating boys in schools everywhere  Mic

Being experienced doesn't make you a great mentor  HBR


Well, I do have some news for you. We're not only swearing. We’re drinking, we’re smoking, we’re having premarital sex with birth control before we go to work, and sometimes boss around a bunch of men.

Fox News Anchor Megyn Kelly reacts to Mike Huckabee's comment that women who swear are trashy.