The cover image on Newsweek‘s brand new issue nods to an in-depth story in the mag about sexism in the tech industry. More than anything it’s the cover image that’s raising eyebrows. The story, titled “What Silicon Valley Thinks of Women,” boasts an accompanying image of a woman looking over her shoulder at the arrow of a mouse that’s pointing at and lifting up her short skirt. It’s led to response articles with headlines like, “Is This ‘Newsweek’ Cover Sexist?” But all the cover hullaballoo is distracting us from the incredibly important information within the piece.
Critics of the cover say that the image is perpetuating the sexism the article is hoping to highlight. But while the image might be unsettling, it’s basically nothing compared to the excellent reporting by writer Nina Burleigh on the obstacles that women face getting into tech. Here are just a few Sparknotes from the piece that has everyone talking. So get beyond the cover, and get into the real nitty gritty. Remember, we’re not supposed to judge things by their covers anyway.
• Researchers found that one of the biggest problems for female entrepreneurs is the lack of mentors. And it’s not just because many women bail out of tech careers at a younger age, but because women in the industry beyond their late 30s are sidelined by “virulent ageism.”
• Sexism plays enormously into the way that certain start-ups get funded and other start-ups don’t. Sadly, female-headed start-ups tend to be funded at a much lower rate than their male counterparts. And that’s attributable to the fact that Silicon Valley’s big venture capitalist firms are overwhelmingly male. In fact, the partners in the firms are 96% male.
• An example of how hard it is for female entrepreneurs to get funded: Just 2.7% of the 6,517 companies that received venture funding from 2011 to 2013 had female CEOs.
• Shelley Kane, a tech industry observer, observed that while venture capitalists encourage young girls to get into the STEM fields, they don’t hire the women already in the industry. “We are not getting hired, and we are not getting promoted, and we are being systematically driven out of the industry,” she said.
• The article profiles a peer-mentoring program called Glassbreakers, aimed at helping women navigate through the tricky parts of the tech industry while also overcoming sexist barriers. They’re currently seeking funding. Founder Eileen Carey explains, “Traditional mentorship, established in male-dominated industry, is between very senior and very junior people. But the problem for women in the workforce is that there are many more mentees than mentors. Also, the tech industry is changing so fast that women even five or 10 years older may have very little of practical use to share with younger workers.”
The entire article is filled with the type of truth bombs that are incredibly humbling and also incredibly important. Put the piece on your weekend must-read list. Hopefully the anger you feel when you’re done will motivate you to be a badass boss lady. Hopefully that’s what it will do for all of us.