These companies adapt to the needs of women, so employees aren’t required to lean in too far.
Jane Park, CEO of the Seattle-based cosmetics company Julep, is fired up about the recent Hobby Lobby ruling.
I can tell it’s on her mind because one minute we’re talking about the design of nail polish bottles and a second later, she shifts gears, taking us in an unexpectedly political direction. “Last month, the Supreme Court reaffirmed that companies are people but I really don’t think that’s true,” Park says, out of the blue. “A company is not one human being; if anything, it’s a mini-society. There are many ways that rules of a company impact our lives more than the rules of a government.”
Park has spent decades thinking about the policies that affect women’s lives—it was the focus on her public policy degree at Princeton and her law degree at Yale—and today, as a businesswoman, it remains one of her biggest concerns. “As a head of a company, I see a huge opportunity to create the kind of society we want,” she tells me.
Her timing is great—we’re in a moment when company heads such as Sophie Amoruso of the online retailer Nasty Gal are proving that strong female leadership can be good for both morale and the bottom line.
It’s been a little over a year since Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In hit bookstore shelves, sparking a nationwide discussion about gender in the workplace. While many praised the book, calling it an invaluable manual for women keen to assert themselves at work, critics argued that Sandberg was urging women to adapt to a broken system rather than demanding that corporate America adapt to women’s needs. The good news for Sandberg detractors is that business leaders across the country are busy building a feminist workplace that allows women to thrive in their careers without having to lean in too far.
“A new poll from Gallup shows that 63% of Americans say the country would be better governed with more female political leaders, which is up slightly from 57% in past polls in 1995 and 2000. But not everyone feels this way: While 78% of liberals as well as 78% of unmarried women think we need more female political leaders, only 46% of Republicans feel that having more women in office would result in better government, and almost one in five (19%) feel it would be worse.”
Whenever someone calls or texts it, it reads back feminist quotes from the writer bell hooks.I called the New York number and got this lovely gem: “Sometimes people try to destroy you, precisely because they recognize your power—not because they don’t see it, but because they see it and they don’t want it to exist.”
Exposed: A History of Lingerie charts how designers responded to feminist demands for better underwear over 300 years of ill-fitting, freeform, and racy lingerie.
“Burn up the corsets!” clothing reform activist Elizabeth Stuart Phelps wrote in 1873. “Make a bonfire of the cruel steel that has lorded it over the contents of the abdomen and thorax for so many years and heave a sigh of relief: for your ‘emancipation,’ I assure you, has from this moment begun.”
We have feminism to thank for making our underwear more comfortable, a truth that’s clearly reflected in Exposed: A History of Lingerie, now on view at the Museum at Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT). The more than 70 pieces on view, from the 18th century to today—from girdles to the “no-bra” bras of the ‘60s—track the social and sexual mores of different eras through the lingerie that women wore. The show also reveals how designers (thank goodness) responded in very tactile ways to feminist demands for less oppressive underwear.
High-school student Megan Grassell couldn’t find cute, age-appropriate bras for her younger sister, so she made her own. Now her company Yellowberry is being held up as a model of innovation, design, and feminists united against the sexualization of girls.
"At first, … it was hard to get people to take me seriously. I was talking to someone the other day who’s been a great mentor to me, and he said "Megan, when you first came to me with that bra, and you thought you were ready to go, I thought, ‘Who is this high school girl?’"
Organized by LinkedIn, DevelopHer is the only Silicon Valley hackathon that is exclusively for women. Now in its second year, DevelopHer sprung out of LinkedIn’s Hackdays, which bring engineers in cities across the country together for coding competitions. The first DevelopHer had about 70 participants—this year, the number jumped dramatically because the event (held October 25th and 26th) was timed to coincide with TechWomen, a U.S. State Department mentorship initiative that brings female STEM leaders from Africa and the Middle East to the U.S.
“One minute there would be a post that was being snarky about a red carpet, and 20 minutes later the same writer would be posting about the 2008 election in a way that was perhaps humorous but also very incisive. So people were setting an example for one another that was very versatile, which is what women are. Which I felt wasn’t represented in other women’s media.”
Fast Company interviewed Jezebel’s Anna Holmes about feminism, commenters, and The Book of Jezebel.