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‘Alpha Girls,’ Nurx, Mandu Reid: Broadsheet April 29

Good morning, Broadsheet readers! Emma Hinchliffe here today. A birth control startup cut corners, ‘greedy’ workplaces contribute to the glass ceiling, and we learn about the ‘Alpha Girls’ of Silicon Valley. Have a marvelous Monday.


• The lessons of the ‘Alpha Girls.’ One person’s story might not be enough to explain the history of women in Silicon Valley—but maybe four can.

That’s the approach author Julian Guthrie takes in her new book, Alpha Girls: The Women Upstarts Who Took on Silicon Valley’s Male Culture and Made the Deals of a Lifetime. Following MJ Elmore, one of the first women to make partner at a venture firm in the U.S.; founding Salesforce investor Magdalena Yesil; venture capitalist Sonja Perkins; and Aspect Ventures co-founder and All Raise founding member Theresia Gouw, Alpha Girls details how these women became among the first to rise to the top of Silicon Valley.

For Fortune, Guthrie writes about five lessons she learned from these four women, from how to keep tabs on male colleagues’ locker room talk to when to choose work over family, as Guthrie writes about Yesil:

When Salesforce went public on June 23, 2004, Magdalena wasn’t there. Her son was sick, so she stayed home. Magdalena would come to regret that she had set aside her own needs the day Salesforce went public. Her son would have been fine without her; someone else could have stepped in. She should have stood next to Salesforce founder Marc Benioff during that historic moment when he rang the bell on the New York Stock Exchange. She should have been there to celebrate the company she had helped build and bring to life. An IPO, like a birth, happens only once.

It’s a fascinating perspective that Guthrie weaves together, ultimately making a case that the obstacles faced by—and the accomplishments of—these four women helped shape the Silicon Valley we know today. The book is already being adapted as a TV series, described as Hidden Figures meets The Social Network.

Read on for more from Alpha Girls, which hits shelves tomorrow.

Emma Hinchliffe


‘Greedy’ jobs = glass ceilings. There’s a reason women entering graduate programs en masse wasn’t enough to break the glass ceilings in corporate America. Around the same time, those jobs started requiring longer and longer hours, in and out of the office. Women in the position to go for those jobs—who, in another demographic trend, were now more likely to be married to men with similar qualifications—have stepped back while their partners take the 60-hour-a-week jobs. It’s worth reading this whole piece for some insightful analysis:  New York Times

Women’s Equality in politics. Mandu Reid is the new leader of the U.K.’s four-year-old Women’s Equality Party and the country’s first black political party leader. The party hasn’t yet won any seats, and Reid is trying to dispel the perception that it’s “only serving white middle-class women.” She also opened up about having an abortion five years ago in part because of a lack of policies that would allow her to continue in her career and be a single mother. Guardian

• The political Supermajority. After leaving the helm of Planned Parenthood, Cecile Richards has a new organization. Launched with Alicia Garza of Black Lives Matter, Ai-jen Poo of the National Domestic Workers Alliance, and the founders of Pansuit Nation, Supermajority will attempt to harness women’s political power and train female activists. Says RIchards: “Women are actually the majority of pretty much everything,” not a constituency.    Washington Post

Wife, CEO, and mentor. Land O’Lakes CEO Beth Ford talks about her most important mentors. One of them is her wife, Jill Schurtz, who is also a CEO (of the St. Paul Teachers’ Retirement Fund Association). “She’s a strong business person, has a spine of steel, and doesn’t ever waver from her true north,” Ford says. Wall Street Journal

MOVERS AND SHAKERS: Momofuku appointed its first-ever CEO, Marguerite Zabar Mariscal. Jessica Jackley, co-founder of microfinance startup Kiva, joins Aspiration as chief impact officerDayna Quanbeck joins Rothy’s as CFO.


A closet of pills and more. Nurx has been one of the leaders in a crop of startups attempting to increase access to birth control by prescribing online. But the company, run by two male co-founders, apparently cut corners while it sought growth, shipping pills that bounced back in the mail to new customers (generally against federal and state laws) and attempting to revise policy on birth control for women over 35, even though people without medical licenses are usually barred by state laws from influencing medical policy. New York Times

Grandma and first-grader. Do yourself a favor and read this emotional, bittersweet, and uplifting story. In rural South Korea, short on young people as they flock to cities, a local elementary school was having trouble finding children to enroll. Daegu Elementary instead opened its doors to local grandmothers who never learned to read or write. The “first-graders” ride the bus to school with their own grandchildren, proud to learn to write letters to their grown children and, for one, to soon run for president of the village women’s society, “a job for someone who can read and write.” New York Times

France’s communications guru. Sibeth Ndiaye has been running communications for French President Emmanuel Macron since 2017, but a promotion to cabinet minister and government spokeswoman has now put her in the spotlight. Ndiaye has had a sometimes tense relationship with the press, and her new role makes her a junior minister in her own right with the task to make the government seem “more likable and more in touch.”  Guardian

Billing at uBiome. uBiome, the microbiome testing startup led by co-founder and CEO Jessica Richman, had its offices searched by the FBI as the company faces scrutiny over its billing practices. Richman said that “compliance is our highest value.” Wall Street Journal

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Deputy Chief Judith Harrison, the first black woman to lead the NYPD's Special Victims Unit