Why More Women Are Speaking Out About Sexual Harassment

A business man caressing a business woman's leg.

Photo credit: Shutterstock

These past few months have been rife with sexual harassment cases. In June, Uber founder and CEO Travis Kalanick was forced to resign after a former engineer shed light on the company’s sexist work culture. In July, founder and CEO of 500 Startups Dave McClure was also forced to step down following revelations of his sexual misconduct. As if that’s not bad enough, earlier this month, SoFi’s founder and CEO Mike Cagney also had to take a permanent leave of absence after several employees complained about his inappropriate workplace behavior.

All these recent cases of sexual harassment have Americans wondering: Why now? What’s changed?

What’s changed is that women have finally mustered the courage to speak out about these issues. As for why now, it turns out that coming forward about sexual harassment is a domino effect. Take Cecilia Pagkalinawan, for example.

For more than a decade, Cecilia Pagkalinawan stayed silent about her experience with sexual harassment. During the dotcom crash of 2001, Pagkalinawan was faced with a tough decision: Raise money for her startup or lay off 26 employees.

Scared of losing her business, she was undoubtedly excited when she finally managed to set up a meeting with a venture capitalist in New York City. However, things took a dark turn when she met with the investor at an upscale restaurant.

Upon arrival, Pagkalinawan discovered that the investor had already ordered a $5,000 bottle of wine. The man insisted that she drink with him, despite her own objections. Not wanting to be rude, she finally gave in. That’s when he started caressing her leg, attempting to kiss her, and telling her that he wanted to take care of her. She then excused herself, vomited in the bathroom, and then called a friend to pick her up.

Pagkalinawan told CNN Tech that she decided to come forward now because she was inspired by the recent string of brave women who have spoken up about their experience with sexual harassment. In other words, it’s not that women are overly sensitive or making these stories up; it’s that women finally feel like they can speak out about sexual misconduct without fear of losing their jobs.

The Rise of Women-Owned Businesses

Woman business owner

Women in the business world have come a long way. Fed up with the demands and expectations of male-owned workplaces, women are leaving companies in favor of starting their own. The State of Women-Owned Business reports that as of 2014, “it is estimated that there are nearly 9.1 million women-owned businesses in the United States, generating over $1.4 trillion in revenues and employing nearly 7.9 million people,” with roughly 3 million of those businesses owned by women of color. These are exciting statistics for American women and American commerce, and they’re growing every day—but while putting more women into business is good for just about everyone, there is still a fair amount of work to be done.

Dr. Peggy Drexler, assistant professor of psychology at Cornell University, writes of businesses like the Geller Group, a law firm formed by six mothers tired of working for predominantly male offices. But Drexler points out some of the challenges women in business still face, too, arguing that a high percentage of those women-owned businesses can’t gross more than $50,000 a year in revenue, up to 88%, Drexler says, don’t even have employees.

While many women leave companies because those companies don’t seem to value progressive gender roles or gender equality, women are still generally expected to be the ones who take care of families while their male counterparts earn money. The problems facing women-owned businesses, Drexler says, won’t end until gender roles can be fully dismantled in the home. An article by Kabbage points out some of the reasons that women are being disproportionately turned down for small business loans, including lack of collateral, low cash revenues, or perceived lack of preparation. Luckily, there are some other options.

Entrepreneur provides a list of grants available to women entrepreneurs and women-owned businesses. The article offers tips for applying to these grants, many of which are lucrative, like the Huggies Brand Mom-Inspired Grant, which awards up to $15,000 to advance innovative products, or the InnovateHER awards $30,000 to three winners.

Though women in business still have many hurdles to overcome in the fight for fairness and equality, grants like these and the support that comes from them are essential to the growth of their companies and to commerce as a whole.

Ginni Rometty: One of the Most Powerful Women in the World

Ginni Rometty

IMG: Lisbon Council via Flickr

Virginia “Ginni” Rometty has been President, Chairman and CEO of IBM since 2012, making history as the first woman to ever head the company. In just two short years she has been named one of the most powerful women in the world, and was named the most powerful woman in business by Fortune Magazine in 2012 and 2013.

Rometty knows how to make waves. In 2012 she became the first woman to head IBM after successful runs as Senior Vice President and Group Executive for Sales, Marketing and Strategy for the company. Dedicated to IBM since 1981, Rometty is keeping her company at the forefront of internet technology.

After graduating Northwestern University in 1979, Rometty went to work for General Motors before taking a job as a systems engineer at IBM in the early 1980s. She joined their consulting firm in 1991, and was a major player in IBM’s purchase of PricewaterhouseCoopers in 2002. She is also credited with spearheading IBM’s growth strategy by getting the company into cloud computing and analytics businesses.

Last year Rometty announced that IMB would be commercializing Watson, the supercomputer that took over Jeopardy! in 2011, using him as a way to strengthen sales and branding while positively affecting the world. Watson’s first project was helping Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center make the best management decisions regarding lung cancer treatments and health insurance.

In just two years, Ginni Rometty has become a business powerhouse. In 2012 Forbes Magazine ranked her number 15 on their “World’s 100 Most Powerful Women” list. In 2013, Fortune Magazine named her the most powerful woman in business, for the second year in a row.

Google Names Susan Wojcicki as CEO of YouTube

Google executive Susan Wojcicki (left) and her sister Anne Wojcicki, founder and CEO of 23andMe.

Google executive Susan Wojcicki (left) and her sister Anne Wojcicki, founder and CEO of 23andMe.
IMG: Fortune Live Media via Flickr

Google has confirmed Ads & Commerce SVP Susan Wojcicki as the new CEO of YouTube.  Wojcicki has years of experience running Google’s advertising products including AdWords, AdSense, Analytics, and DoubleClick.

She joined Google in 1999 as the 16th employee and became the search engine’s first marketing executive. In 2006, she was a driving force behind Google’s $1.65 billion acquisition of YouTube when it was considered a risk, but the unit is now valued at $20 billion or more today. Prior to joining Google, she worked at Intel, Bain & Co. and R.B. Webber & Co.

Wojcicki confirmed the announcement on her Twitter account:

“Excited to join #YouTube – wonderful team, amazing community & inspiring creators. I look forward to watching a lot more videos during work.”

The move may indicate YouTube’s desire to revamp its advertising and e-commerce strategies.

Google CEO Larry Page released a statement that doesn’t suggest any immediate changes in strategy at YouTube:

“Salar and the whole YouTube team have built something amazing.  YouTube is a billion person global community curating videos for every possibility.  Anyone uploading their creative content can reach the whole world and even make money.  Like Salar, Susan has a healthy disregard for the impossible and is excited about improving YouTube in ways that people will love.”

Wojcicki will take over for departing YouTube CEO Salar Kamangar, who was Google’s ninth employee. It’s not clear what Kamangar’s next role at Google will be as there is speculation he may move to Google’s investment arm, Google Ventures.

The Story Behind the Viral 1980’s Girl’s Lego Ad

1980's Girl's Lego Ad

IMG: via Lego

It’s no secret that boys and girls toys today and very different. While it is true that a lot of girls like pink and sparkles – that doesn’t mean every girl does. For girls they only make “Lego Friends,” instead of the normal legos that you could find in the boy’s toy section. Do all toys have to all be changed to be “gender specific?”

Recently Reddit and Tumblr blew up over a 1981 Lego print ad. It shows a girl in normal clothes, playing with normal legos – nothing “girly” is involved.

The “What is Beautiful” ad was created Judy Lotas, who was the creative director at SSC&B, a now-defunct ad agency. While there are still not that many female Advertising Creative Directors – it was even worse in 1981.

Lotas had two young daughters as the time, and was passionate about gender equality. “This was the time of the ERA,” Lotas said, referring to the Equal Rights Amendment, a proposed amendment to the United States Constitution that would guarantee equal rights for women.

She said that at the time the ad was very well received, and was high on the Starch Test, which was a tool used to measure readers memory of ads.

“My daughters were of Lego age,” she told Mashable. “I felt strongly that it wasn’t just for girls. It was kind of a personal bias I had.”

Several years later, Lotas left SSC&B and started Lotas Minard Patton McIver, which is run by 4 females.

The ad resurfacing has brought into question how toys are advertised today.  The Huffington Post even pointed out that Lego’s current marketing creates very gender-specific toys.


Marissa Mayer Gets More People to Use Yahoo Via Retweets

Marissa Mayer is working on getting the almost obsolete Yahoo back into the game. Last Thursday, instead of working on some new add or technology, she took to Twitter.

Over several hours, Mayer retweeted and responded to people on Twitter who agreed to make Yahoo their homepage if she responded and/or retweeted them.


One person even agreed to stop making fun of the new Yahoo logo if she retweeted them – which she did.


Mayer has occasionally used her Twitter account to share news about the company and respond to customer service complaints, but nothing like this before.

What do you think of this creative marketing tactic?

Marrissa Mayer to Change-Up Yahoo’s Labs By Hiring 50 New PhD Employees

Marissa Mayer

IMG: Fortune Live Media via Flickr

Yahoo’s CEO, Marissa Mayer is mixing up the companies’ research unit, which was downsized under her predecessor. They just hired 30 researches with PhDs, and plan to add another 20 by the end of the year. This group is led by Chief Scientist Ron Brachman, a former scientist at the U.S. agency who helped invent the Internet. Brachman helped build Yahoo’s research group when he joined the company in 2005.

“The lab is still here — it’s been reduced in size,” Marissa Mayer said. The company is investing “heavily to build it back up,” she said.

A big focus in Yahoo’s Labs are in the area of mobile, content personalization and predictive analytics. Yahoo spent $885.82 million last year on product development.

According to Mashable, “The recruiting boost reflects Mayer’s broader effort to attract top Silicon Valley talent.” She has spent around $1.2 billion on startups in her year as CEO. Some of these include Tumblr, Summly, and startups from former Yahoo executives, Xobni, and Palarn Inc.

“If I don’t sign off and say it’s excellent from a product standpoint, and if David Filo or Amotz don’t sign off and say it’s excellent from tech-council standpoint, it doesn’t happen,” Mayer said.

To view Marissa Mayer’s profile, click here.

Arianna Huffington Talks Business in Las Vegas

Arianna Huffington

IMG: Ovidiu Hrubaru / Shutterstock.com

Arianna Huffington is an author, entrepreneur, and co-founder and editor in chief of The Huffington Post. She spoke at the PBA Beauty Forum held during Cosmoprof at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas on July 14th.

Huffington learned a lot from her mother. “She used to say, ‘Failure is not the opposite of success—it’s the stepping stone to success.” When she first launched The Huffington Post, it was called ‘an unequivocal failure’ in a review. While that may seem like a stepping stone towards failure, just a year later the writer apologized. They even asked her for an chance to write for her site. “I said yes, because I think the worst thing you can do in business is hold grudges,” she said.

“Now we define success by money and power, but we should be defining it by wellbeing and health,” she says. “There are some very smart leaders who are making terrible decision.” Some of these bad decisions she blames on stress and lack of sleep, but believes that there are shifts occurring in the corporate world.

She has advocated for the past couple years the importance of getting enough sleep. “Since I pushed myself to get 7-8 hours of sleep, I’ve found I’m more productive, effective and joyful,” she says. At her corporate offices, she created two napping rooms. At first people laughed, but now they are constantly being used.

“What we want from employees is their attention, not just their time,” says Huffington. “Wouldn’t you rather have someone whose giving you 100 percent?”

To learn more about Arianna Huffington, visit her profile.

Marissa Mayer Hits Her 1 Year Anniversary at Yahoo

Marissa Mayer

IMG: Brigitte Lacombe via Glamour

Yahoo Inc.’s share prices have risen tremendously, more than 70% since Marissa Mayer became the Chief Executive. Since coming aboard, Yahoo has purchased 17 technology startups, most notably Tumblr and Summly, an app created by 17-year old Nick D’Aloisio. Yahoo paid $1.1 million for Tumblr alone.

Recreating Yahoo will be a slow process. Only about 4.9% of searches come from Yahoo. Many of the companies that they did buy were struggling and only had a few employees left.

Marissa Mayer is Yahoo’s sixth CEO in the past five years, including two interim CEOs. Google and Facebook generate much more revenue than Yahoo from ads, so there has been discussion on the Yahoo board about whether the company should remain an independent, publicly traded entity. While small, the revenue rose by 2% last year.

“It’s no longer shameful to work at Yahoo,” an employee said recently.

A Yahoo spokeswoman stated that “more people are applying to work at Yahoo and more employees are staying.”

Mayer’s goal in her process of turning the company around is making Yahoo something used on everyone’s mobile devices. She has also focused on redesigning the companies’ apps. 16% of iPhone users used a Yahoo app in June. After purchasing Tumblr, these figures rose to 22%. While this is progress, Facebook, Google and Twitter apps are used by 80%, 69% and 31% of iPhone users in June.

“Our biggest problem is impressions,” or usage of Yahoo’s websites, Ms. Mayer said in February. “The way to grow revenue is to grow usage or prices. We’re successfully growing prices…we need to grow usage.”

To view Marissa Mayer’s entire profile, click here.

Yahoo Buys Tumblr, Is Now Bidding For Hulu


Img: biggraham via Flickr

About a week ago, Yahoo’s board of directors approved the deal to buy Tumblr. According to the Washington Street Journal, it will pay $1.1 billion in cash for the blogging website. Marissa Mayer, Yahoo’s CEO announced the acquistion on her Tumblr site:

I’m delighted to announce that we’ve reached an agreement to acquire Tumblr!

We promise not to screw it up.  Tumblr is incredibly special and has a great thing going.  We will operate Tumblr independently.  David Karp will remain CEO.  The product roadmap, their team, their wit and irreverence will all remain the same as will their mission to empower creators to make their best work and get it in front of the audience they deserve. Yahoo! will help Tumblr get even better, faster.

One thing users love about Tumblr is that it doesn’t have ads. This of course makes it hard for the website to make very much money. Like Instagram, Tumblr has no immediate and clear revenue model, however it reportedly made about $15 million in 2012. A lot of people are asking, “What is Yahoo going to do with Tumblr?”

In more recent news, it has been reported that Yahoo is bidding on Hulu as well. Hulu is a website that streams TV shows and movies, but has a clear revenue model with ads and subscription fees.

Yahoo is not the only one trying to get in with Hulu. It has been reported that Henry Kravis of KKR and Silver Lake have both made separate bids on the online service. The value of the offers are not known.

Hulu is owned by Walt Disney Co., News Corp. and Comcast Corp.

To read Marissa Mayer’s entire profile, click here

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