TIME women

A Million Peeping Toms: When Hacking Is Also a Hate Crime

"Serena" Premiere - 58th BFI London Film Festival
Jennifer Lawrence attends the premiere for "Serena" during the 58th BFI London Film Festival at Vue West End on October 13, 2014 in London, England. Stuart C. Wilson—2014 Getty Images

Soraya Chemaly is a media critic and activist.

Technology isn’t just mirroring offline crimes but amplifying them in ways that qualitatively change their impact

In her first public statements about the theft and distribution of her private nude photographs, Jennifer Lawrence called the act “a sex crime.” There are differences of opinion about using those words to characterize what happened. What is not debatable however is that, of the reportedly more than 100 celebrities targeted in this episode involving Lawrence, the overwhelming majority have been women. So, why aren’t we seriously discussing this in terms of gender-based hate? That’s also a serious charge.

The nonconsensual distribution of intimate photos is similar to offline voyeurism in many ways. We call these voyeurs Peeping Toms, a classic linguistic minimization of a sex crime that, like revenge porn, is gendered. Peeping Thomasinas aren’t really a thing. (The crime is treated differently state by state. In some states, but not all, voyeurs must register as sex offenders. Revenge porn is a non-registry offense.)

“There is no principled way to argue that this is any less serious than voyeurism,” explains Mary Anne Franks, Associate Professor of Law at the University of Miami School of Law and Vice-President of the Cyber Civil Rights Initiative. “There is no denying the blunt truth of [Lawrence’s] words: she alone has the right to control access to her naked body, and anyone who violates that right has committed a profound and inexcusable wrong. That means that laws against hacking are insufficient to address this violation.” Danielle Citron, author of Hate Crimes in Cyber Space, has also argued that these crimes clearly infringe on women’s civil rights.

However, what happens when there are millions of Peeping Toms? Given the scope and number of people who participated, and the time and effort the hackers took to gather the photographs and carefully plan their release, it’s clear that technology isn’t just mirroring offline crimes but amplifying them in ways that qualitatively change their impact and should prompt serious debate about gender-based hatred and bias crimes.

Federal hate crime legislation does not actually require that perpetrators of crimes express explicit hatred for the people they target. Instead, the salient information is that hate crimes are those in which a person is targeted because of, in this case, his or her gender. In addition, a “prominent characteristic of a violent crime motivated by bias is that it devastates not just the actual victim and the family and friends of the victim, but frequently savages the community sharing the traits that caused the victim to be selected.” While men are also the victims of revenge porn, as with the threat that a serial rapist of women poses to a community, how can anyone doubt that girls and women experienced the theft and sharing of these photos, which overwhelming involved women, in ways that men did not?

This wasn’t a privately executed sex crime, but a public one infused with gender bias. As the systematic theft, accumulation and mass sharing of these photos shows, we live in a culture in which violations of women’s privacy are normalized, where harms to women are routinely trivialized, where our sexual objectification is the norm and where society resists legitimate and reasonable consideration of the role gender and status play in what happened. (There have been at least four waves of photo released, the last of which included the first man.)

It’s not just that photographs like Lawrence’s violated women’s rights to privacy and constituted theft, or that they might be considered pornographic or offensive. It’s that the perpetrators sought to attack the women, humiliate them, assault their dignity, and interfere with their lives and well being because they are women. Revenge porn is overwhelmingly perpetrated against women by men, and is rooted in displaying male dominance. There is nothing new in this type of female dehumanization. What’s new is its digitized and scalable industrialization. The attack on female celebrities sends a clear message that even the most admired and powerful women can be treated this way.

We have a national predisposition to downplay gender as consequential. This November marks the fifth anniversary of the Matthew Shepard & James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, in which sexual orientation, gender, gender identity and disability were finally added to federal hate crimes law.

The purpose of the 2009 act was largely to ensure that people have the chance to pursue justice if they feel that their state courts have failed. Only some states have hate crime statutes and, of those, a sub-segment include gender as a category for consideration. The battle to include gender at the federal level was long and hard fought. Either way, social recognition of gender-based hate, as post Elliot Rodger’s public discussions showed, remains controversial.

Bias and hate crime laws exists so that members of groups that were historically discriminated against know that the societies they live in support their equal right to live their lives, raise their children, travel in public, and pursue their work, free of fear and discrimination. They are a challenge to social norms that would perpetuate violence and subjugation, an old-fashioned word no one likes to use in the United States, on the basis of immutable characteristics. Like being female.

If there is one silver lining in this, it’s that the women who were targeted are not being stigmatized or punished and that the trajectory of traditional shame seems to be reversing in a way that accrues to the perpetrator, and not the victims, of these assaults.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME women

6 Items You Should Wear To Achieve World Domination

Shirt on hanger
Getty Images

What kind of clothing makes you feel most powerful?

xojane

This story originally appeared on xoJane.com.

This story originally started out as a fashion guide for ambitious women… until I got power-hungry. Now it’s about taking over the world.

Maybe I got a little too pumped up by the playlist I was listening to while writing, but I suddenly felt like ambition wasn’t enough. It’s time to rewrite the rules — it’s time to completely own shit! And if you want to take over the world, you need the right wardrobe to do it. Here’s what I’ll be wearing on my path to world domination.

1. Something Super-Feminine

Let’s shove aside this tired idea that menswear-inspired clothing is the only way to show you’re serious. Put on the girliest dress in the gauziest, ruffle-covered fabric with tights, or a velvety bodycon number (that’s office-appropriate) and wear it to work, sit at that board meeting and make a few people uncomfortable in your frilly blouse.

Femininity can be powerful and what’s more powerful than a woman being comfortable with that?

2. Chunky Heels

The sound of feet stomping is commanding. Whether it comes from a marching military or the loud stomp of your upstairs neighbor, it makes you aware of a person, sometimes without even seeing them.

My wishlist is full of them. There’s something about a chunky heel that makes me want to spend my entire paycheck on nothing but them. World domination starts with a sturdy foundation and what’s sturdier than a chunky heel?

3. Futuristic Fabrics

My favorite versions of the future are “The Jetsons” and 2001: A Space Odyssey. I like the stark white of the latter and the fun and flying cars of the former.

Why not get dressed for the future while thinking of the future, even if it’s a very distant one? Think of what you’d wear if it were 2214, or better yet, try to think of yourself as completely different being. The future alien you is infallible — a cold, emotionless robot who’s formidable and incredibly intelligent. Imagine efficient, sleek clothing made from newly invented material, doing everything with extreme precision while dressed in neoprene and vinyl.

4. Oversized Everything

Sometimes the world is like that guy on the subway who takes up two seats because he wants to sit with his legs wide open like he owns the place and there’s no space for you. Demand your space, and take it in an oversized coat. Sit down and “accidentally” hit him with your larger-than-life purse. If there’s no room for you, then make room.

5. Mysterious Sunglasses

Regardless of why Anna Wintour constantly wears those sunglasses, they are now a part of her legend. People have come up with their own reasons for why she’s never seen without them, and the thing that’s clear from all of this is that those sunglasses make it hard to read her emotions, and that scares people.

Personally, I love it. When people have no idea what someone else is thinking it kills them. In Anna’s case it’s constantly analyzed, people gossip and write articles about it. I bet she’s sitting in her office now, laughing at all the rumours going around, her legend spreading, and all she had to do was toss on a pair of sunglasses. So, wear a stony expression, put on a pair of sunglasses or an oversized hat — anything that will hide part of your face — and let the world create your myth.

6. Eccentric Details

Eccentrics make life a lot more fun. Eccentrics are captivating, but not always the loudest, most aggressive person in the group (look at Bill Cunningham.) Buy a vibrant plaid suit and wear it with a printed blouse. Find something Commes Des Garçon or Margiela-inspired and wear it in an unexpected way. Look to other fashion eccentrics like Isabella Blow, Leigh Bowery and Anna Piaggi. Wear an all-silk pajama look to the office, the absurd hat you just purchased, or the Bond Hardware accessory you’ve been dying to show off.

So, for those of you who may be wallflowers but still want to take over the world, there’s no better way to make a statement than through clothing.

What kind of clothing makes you feel most powerful?

Sydney Scott is a writer and fashion and beauty enthusiast.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME feminism

It’s Not Just You. Feminism Does Seem To Be Getting Weirder.

Women support feminism
Getty Images

How can we move feminism forward?

It’s not just you. Feminism does seem to be getting weirder. On one hand, an increasingly diverse chorus of academic, pop culture, and male voices is claiming the F-word label. On the other, it can sometimes look like this diverse set of voices — each with its own set of demands and priorities — will doom the movement through internecine warfare over everything from abortion to hashtag activism. But many roads have diverged in feminism’s yellow wood throughout its history. Being at a crossroad doesn’t mean that feminists should be paralyzed by fear of making a bad choice or going in a “wrong” direction.

To Salamishah Tillet, a cultural critic and professor at the University of Pennsylvania, feminism itself is a crossroad, because it is an intersection — where structural oppressions embedded in gender, race, sexuality and all forms of difference collide. For women of color and others for whom intersectionality is a way of life, feminism has and should always be that crossroad. As we look to the future with all these new feminists joining the ranks, the key question is: how can we honor, learn from, and draw upon the experiences of all kinds of women in order to form coalitions and move feminism forward? Recently, we’ve started to hear some answers. Judith Shulevitz and Rebecca Traister, senior editors at The New Republic who wrote a recent cover story on the future of feminism, each offered two potential areas of common ground that could provide cornerstones for coalition-building: easing the exploitation of caregivers and mandating paid family and sick leave, respectively.

In a conversation at New America NYC, Tillet, Shulevitz, and Traister took on two of the most divisive questions confronting feminists today, questions that seem poised to threaten feminism’s foundations and its future: how to combat sexual violence against women and girls and how to situate or address celebrity feminism, embodied by Beyoncé and Sheryl Sandberg. These are two women who, according to moderator and Jezebel founder Anna Holmes, “make people’s heads explode when it comes to feminism.” While affirming that sexual violence is feminism’s sine qua non, Shulevitz raised eyebrows on the panel and in the audience by drawing distinctions between “campus rape” and “true atrocity” abroad. Even when her co-panelists objected, Shulevitz insisted that campus rape is “of a different order” than forms of sexual violence experienced by women outside the developed world. Traister countered by expressing her uneasiness with making such comparisons, which she said imply an unproductive difference between similar things instead of including both on a spectrum of systemic oppression. Tillet drew from her experience as a survivor of rape both on campus and abroad in Kenya to insist, “This moment [in which campus rape is generating media and policy attention] was so hard fought.” She gave special recognition to the foundation of global and national activism and organizing that has culminated in today’s younger women using Title IX as a new weapon to insist on safety and redress as a form of parity required under the law.

On the subject of celebrity feminism, Traister, who admittedly “hates talking about Sheryl Sandberg” and “doesn’t want to make her the face of feminism,” identified the most radical feature of Lean In as its insistence on an equal partnership that does not include stay-at-home parenting. Tillet, who in a few weeks will deliver the guest “Beyoncé lecture” to Michael Eric Dyson’s class on Jay-Z at Georgetown, offered a key insight on celebrity feminism: she suggested that because of their celebrity status, women like Sandberg and Beyoncé are forced to become “icons” at the stage when other women are still figuring out their own feminist identities (“The Feminism 101 moment,” interjected Traister). Wouldn’t it be a more interesting story, Tillet asked, if Sandberg revealed ways in which not calling herself a feminist affords women like her privilege in male-dominated worlds like tech? Picking up on celebrity feminism and the much-discussed question of who should get to speak for women, Shulevitz had one of the most-Tweeted lines of the night when she declared, “What I’m sick of is editorializing. What I’m looking for is pamphleteering. I want women to be writing manifestos.”

The final question from the audience echoed the panelists’ palpable frustration about where feminism is and whether it’s helping women in tangible ways. “I’m 63,” this audience member noted, “and I want to know what you’re going to do by the time you’re my age to get us there.” For Traister, potential for change lies in what she observes as the mass social shift in the “absolute remaking” of the family (the subject of her forthcoming book).

“Getting us there” also requires finding new sources of fuel to power feminism’s engines. Tillet, like one of her mentors, Gloria Steinem, draws energy from inter-generational collaboration with fellow feminists. The answer to so many of feminism’s trickiest questions, she indicated, lies in the ability to use those collaborations to create and circulate powerful narratives, and to renew them again and again and again.

Jane Greenway Carr is an ACLS Public Fellow and Contributing Editor at New America. She holds a PhD from NYU, where she has been a lecturer and done research at the intersections between U.S. literary and cultural history and social and political activism. This piece was originally published in New America’s digital magazine, The Weekly Wonk. Sign up to get it delivered to your inbox each Thursday here, and follow @New America on Twitter.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

MONEY Careers

Microsoft’s CEO Wasn’t the Only Male Exec to Say Something Clueless About Women This Week

Microsoft Satya Nadella gives a lecture about dream, struggle and creation at Tsinghua University on September 25, 2014 in Beijing, China.
Microsoft CEO Sayta Nadella isn't smiling after his comments about women in the workplace were universally panned. ChinaFotoPress via Getty Images

Yesterday, Microsoft's CEO said something really wrong about women. But he's just one of a number of tech executives to make similar gaffes in the last few days.

Updated—3:52 P.M.

This has not been a great week when it comes to equality in the workplace. On Thursday, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella made waves when he advised women against asking for pay bumps. “It’s not really about asking for the raise,” he told a mostly female audience at the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing, “but knowing and having faith that the system will actually give you the right raises as you go along.”

By Thursday night, Nadella was in full damage-control mode, renouncing his previous statement in an email to Microsoft staff. “If you think you deserve a raise, you should just ask,” he wrote.

It’s good that Nadella acknowledged his mistake, but the gaffe shows how many in the business world still have difficulty understanding the prejudices faced by their female colleagues. And as our colleague Margaret Magnarelli points out, “he still doesn’t realize it’s not as simple as ‘just asking’ for us.”

What’s more, the Microsoft chief wasn’t the only boss even in the past few days to make clueless comments about how women should behave in the workplace. Earlier at the same conference, a group of male execs from Facebook, Google, GoDaddy, and Intuit participated in a panel purporting to offer tips on how both men and women could help stamp out tech’s bro-centric culture. A video of the event is available here, and Readwrite gave the blow-by-blow.

It did not go well. Here are a few of the most most off-base observations:

“It’s more expensive to hire women, because the population is smaller.” – Mike Schroepfer, CTO of Facebook

Actually, it’s not. While Schroepfer was trying to say that it’s more expensive to recruit women because they are underrepresented in computer science, it’s been widely reported that women make 78% of what men make. This is the so-called gender pay gap.

And yes, the gap persists even in the supposedly meritocratic tech world: According to a recent analysis of Census data, men with a graduate or professional degree working in Silicon Valley earn 73% more than women with the same degrees working in the same industry.

While some of the pay gap is explained by factors like experience level and industry choice, economists Francine Blau and Lawrence Kahn found that even when you control for those factors, 41% of the gap remains “unexplained.”

In fact, at a conference last month, Australian tech mogul Evan Thornley made the opposite point: that women are “Like Men, Only Cheaper.” That quote comes directly from his slideshow. “Call me opportunistic,” he elaborated, “I thought I could get better people with less competition because we were willing to understand the skills and capabilities that many of these women had.” Thornley later apologized.

“The only thing I would add is speak up … Speak up, be confident.” – Blake Irving, CEO of GoDaddy

This isn’t bad advice by itself — studies have shown that women who self-promote and negotiate harder do end up with with higher salaries — but like Nadella’s email to employees, it fails to acknowledge that women are often punished when they do speak up. “Assertive or competitive qualities are usually associated with men, and are thought to be essential for successful leaders. But for women, they can be a landmine,” said Daina Middleton, global CEO of Performics, in an interview with Fast Company.

Need evidence? Economist Linda Babcock ran a study where she videotaped men and women asking for raises using the exact same script. Viewers of the tape agreed that the man deserved the raise. But they did not like the woman who asked for the exact same thing, in the exact same way.

“People found that to be way too aggressive,” Babcock told NPR. “She was successful in getting the money, but people did not like her. They thought she was too demanding. And this can have real consequences for a woman’s career.”

Other data suggests that women entrepreneurs also get turned down more often than men do. One study found that investors are more likely to accept pitches from male entrepreneurial teams than from female teams — even if they’re making the exact same pitch. In another study, business school students read a prospectus for a mock company. In some versions, the CEO was listed as male; in others, the CEO was female. The students were four times more likely to recommend the company led by the male CEO.

“It will be twice as hard for you … but you can make a big difference in your company.” – Alan Eustace, senior vice president of search at Google

True, but unfortunately women are often absent from the kind of high level positions that would allow them to “make a big difference.” Only 4.8% of Fortune 500 CEOs are female — and those 24 women represent a record high.

Women already know it’s at least twice as hard for them to succeed. They just wish business leaders would do something about it.

To Eustace’s great credit, he acknowledged the panel’s issues on Twitter and made a great suggestion for future male allies.

 

MONEY mortgages

Wells Fargo Settles Charges It Refused Mortgages to Moms

A woman walks past teller machines at a Wells Fargo bank in San Francisco, California.
Wells Fargo promised to enact new Temporary Leave Underwriting Guidelines and educate their loan officers. Robert Galbraith—Reuters

A woman says a mortgage loan officer told her, "Moms often don’t return to work after the birth of their little ones."

Wells Fargo Home Mortgage agreed Thursday to pay $5 million to settle allegations that its home loan officers discriminated against pregnant women and women on maternity leave out of fear that the mothers would not return to work, potentially jeopardizing their ability to repay the loans.

Six families alleged that loan officers employed by Wells Fargo, the biggest provider of home loans, made discriminatory comments during the mortgage application process, made loans unavailable to them, and even forced mothers to end maternity leave early and return to work before finalizing the loans. One of the six complainants was a real estate agent who alleges he lost a commission due to discrimination against one of his clients.

Lindsay Doyal, one of the women who filed a complaint with the Department of Housing and Urban Development, says that she was denied a mortgage despite providing several letters from her employer confirming that she intended to go back to work, the Washington Post reports. Doyal says she received an e-mail from a Wells Fargo loan officer that said, “moms often don’t return to work after the birth of their little ones.”

Since 2010, HUD has received 90 maternity leave discrimination complaints, 40 of which have been settled, with a total of almost $1.5 million going to loan applicants. The families in the Wells Fargo case will receive a total of $165,000, and Wells Fargo will create a fund of up to $5 million for other affected mortgage applicants.

“The settlement is significant for the six families who had the courage to file complaints, and for countless other families who will no longer fear losing out on a home simply because they are expecting a baby,” HUD Secretary Julián Castro said in a statement. “I’m committed to leveling the playing field for all families when it comes to mortgage lending. These types of settlements get us closer to ensuring that no qualified family will be singled out for discrimination.”

Wells Fargo promised to enact new Temporary Leave Underwriting Guidelines and educate their loan officers.

“We resolved these claims to avoid a lengthy legal dispute so we can continue to serve the needs of our customers,” Wells Fargo said in a statement. “Our underwriting is consistent with longstanding fair and responsible lending practices and our policies do not require that applicants on temporary leave return to work before being approved. The agreement resolves claims related to only five loan applications from a period when Wells Fargo processed a total of approximately 3 million applications from female customers.”

[Washington Post]

TIME celebrity

Aziz Ansari Explains Why He’s a Feminist and Why We Don’t Need to Be Scared of That Word

With a metaphor about Beyoncé and Jay Z to help make his point

According to Aziz Ansari, most people are feminists — whether or not they actively call themselves that — because most people believe men and women should have equal rights. The comedian discussed this theory with David Letterman on The Late Show last night after explaining that his chef girlfriend is a “big feminist” and has turned him into one too. Here’s the thing, though: he doesn’t give some big, dramatic speech about feminism. To Ansari, being a feminist just seems like a no-brainer.

“If you look up feminist in the dictionary, it just means someone who believes men and women have equal rights,” he says, after asking fellow feminists in the audience for a round of applause. “But I think the reason people don’t clap is that the word is so weirdly used in our culture. Now, people think feminist means, like, some woman is gonna start yelling at them.”

He continues to add his signature humor to the topic, which is clearly important to him. “I feel like if you do believe that men and women have equal rights, if someone asks if you’re a feminist, you have to say yes, because that is how words work,” he quips, adding a metaphor about a doctor who treats diseases of the skin but deems the word dermatologist “too aggressive.”

Then he throws in another metaphor about Jay Z and Beyoncé and basically this whole speech is perfect and it makes us feel like this.

 

TIME feminism

Jennifer Lawrence Breaks Silence on Nude Photo Hack: ‘It’s a Sex Crime’

Vanity Fair Cover Jennifer Lawrence November 2014
Vanity Fair

"It is not a scandal. It is a sex crime."

Jennifer Lawrence has broken her silence over her stolen nude photos that were leaked online this summer, telling Vanity Fair in an interview excerpt published Tuesday the hack was “not a scandal. It is a sex crime.”

In the November cover story, Lawrence recalled trying to address the leak—which affected more than 100 celebrities—but “every single thing that I tried to write made me cry or get angry. I started to write an apology, but I don’t have anything to say I’m sorry for. I was in a loving, healthy, great relationship for four years. It was long distance, and either your boyfriend is going to look at porn or he’s going to look at you.”

Lawrence also strongly condemned those who perpetuated the violation against her privacy.

“Anybody who looked at those pictures, you’re perpetuating a sexual offense,” she said. “You should cower with shame. Even people who I know and love say, ‘Oh, yeah, I looked at the pictures.’ I don’t want to get mad, but at the same time I’m thinking, ‘I didn’t tell you that you could look at my naked body.'”

But even as the actress told the emotional story of telling her father what happened—”I don’t care how much money I get for The Hunger Games, I promise you, anybody given the choice of that kind of money or having to make a phone call to tell your dad that something like that has happened, it’s not worth it”—she maintained her signature humor.

“Fortunately, he was playing golf, so he was in a good mood.”

The 3,000 word piece will be available in Vanity Fair’s digital edition on Oct. 9, then on newsstands nationwide Oct. 14.

TIME feminism

When Men Are the Loudest Feminists

Male and female symbols
Fanatic Studio—Getty Images/Collection Mix: Subjects RF

Can—and should—men be spokespeople for underrepresented women?

“Where are all the women?”

That was the question Vivek Wadhwa’s wife whispered to him at the 2009 “Crunchies Awards” – the tech industry’s Oscars.

It’s been five years since her question woke Wadhwa to the male homogeneity of Silicon Valley. Since then, the professor, researcher, entrepreneur, and Foreign Policy “Top 100 Global Thinker” has re-routed his career to study gender in the tech industry, finding that “despite how we glamorize it, Silicon Valley has a dark side.” He saw that dark side up close when industry insiders and strangers alike unleashed vitriolic tirades against him on social media and in real life for bringing attention to his wife’s question. His response to these critics? “Call me a feminist,” he says. “It will make my day.”

Wadhwa’s desire to expose these gender disparities for a general audience and to create a forum for women in tech whose voices weren’t being heard was a driving force behind his recently published book Innovating Women: The Changing Face of Technology. And yet, part of the response to the book has raised an even bigger question about the gender parity movement in all fields, not just tech. It’s one that Emma Watson also recently addressed. Can – and should – men be spokespeople for underrepresented women?

A form of that question came out at a recent New America event where Wadhwa spoke to Breadwinning and Caregiving Program Director Liza Mundy about the inspiration and impact of his new book. It also popped up on Twitter during, and after, the event.

Why, one audience member wanted to know, was Wadhwa speaking for women? Would he cede a keynote speech to a female speaker or insist that a producer contact a woman to do a media appearance in his place? Wadhwa indicated that he is mindful of the dissonance but also realistic about his media appeal: he has a platform and wants to use it. Right or wrong, he is now a prominent voice on gender issues in Silicon Valley, and he views his choice as a dichotomous one: to speak, or not to speak, about the injustices confronting women and minority entrepreneurs. If you see injustice and you don’t speak, he said, you are complicit in it.

He emphasized one particularly insidious injustice that often goes unnoticed: the process of “pattern recognition,” when Silicon Valley venture capitalists choose who to fund based on a proven preferential “type.” It’s a wordsmith’s code for overt discrimination, and something he spotlights in his introduction to the book.

Exposing “pattern recognition” lays bare the deeper sexism and double standards common in Silicon Valley. While PayPal’s Peter Thiel has garnered praise for offering high school students money not to attend college, Wadhwa says too many VCs and tech executives still get away with lamenting the dearth of qualified female and minority candidates in the “pipeline” of STEM education. In a supposed meritocracy, why must minority applicants possess postgraduate degrees in computer science while board members of companies like Twitter can get away with having no degree at all?

But if we are talking meritocracy, the facts on women should speak for themselves. After his awakening in 2009, Wadhwa revisited his own research studies on entrepreneurship to incorporate and analyze data on gender, a perspective he freely admits he overlooked the first time around. He found that female tech entrepreneurs showed lower rates of failure, were more capital-efficient and had parity with men in STEM education. And yet women were virtually invisible in venture capital and on the boards and management of top companies like Apple. A recent study from the Diana Project at Babson College found that as recently as last year, 97 percent of the companies that got VC funding were led by men and only 15 percent of the companies had a woman on their executive teams.

To Wadhwa’s mind, Silicon Valley has always been an unrepentant boys’ club where women and people of color are barred from the inner circles and the investment bounty of venture capitalists always seems to find its way into the coffers of entrepreneurs who look more like Mark Zuckerberg than Michelle Obama.

He recounted several stories from Innovating Women to illustrate his disgust with the gendered underbelly of Silicon Valley’s startup culture. Kim Polese of Marimba sold her company for half a billion dollars but became a cautionary tale of “failure,” while Heidi Roizen, a rare female venture capitalist, was subjected to sexual harassment and outright assault by colleagues and potential clients. Mundy, who moderated the event, raised the counter-example of older, more established companies like Xerox and GM, where gender diversity initiatives have been largely successful and where HR policies against harassment structure a more traditional workplace environment. As the workplace continues to evolve, Mundy asked, how should we promote innovation and protect employees from harassment and discrimination?

The book is striking a chord with readers who are asking themselves that very question. Wadhwa gets emails every day from women thanking him or telling him they are giving it to their daughters who, unlike their mothers, now have access to girls’ coding camps and the like to develop their confidence and skills. This response to the book, in combination with a growing network of both institutional and informal female mentorship and Google’s recent decision to break ranks with other tech giants by sharing their personnel data on gender, emboldens his relatively positive outlook for the future. His next frontier is to demand that VCs release their own gender data, just as Google has, and to erode what he called the “family unfriendly” nature of many startups.

Women are, in Wadhwa’s words, “now primed to lead the next generation of innovation: every data point you look at says the future belongs to women.”

And he has no plans to stop promoting that message. “The good news is that women, men and the media are now talking about it,” he said.

Jane Greenway Carr is an American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) Public Fellow and a Contributing Editor at New America. This piece was originally published in New America’s digital magazine, The Weekly Wonk. Sign up to get it delivered to your inbox each Thursday here, and follow @New America on Twitter.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME politics

Kirsten Gillibrand On Why She Hates the Phrase ‘Having It All’

The Senator from New York opens up about appearance, sexism and how competitive sports helped her succeed

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) hates the phrase “having it all.”

“I think it’s insulting,” she told TIME’s Nancy Gibbs at the Real Simple/TIME Women & Success Panel Wednesday night. “What are you ‘having?’ A party? Another slice of pie?”

“‘All’ implies that a woman staying home with her kids is somehow living a life half-full. What we’re really talking about is doing it all. How do we help women do all the things they want to do?”

Gillibrand knows a thing or two about doing it all. The junior Senator from New York has spent much of her five years in office fighting to address sexual assaults in the military and on college campuses, all while raising two young boys. She opens up about her journey in a new book, Off the Sidelines, which included a bombshell revelation that some of her fellow Senators had made comments about her weight, including the now-infamous “porky” comments. She dedicates a whole chapter in her book to how a hyper-focus on appearance affects women who run for office.

(MORE: Frozen Songwriter Kristen Anderson-Lopez on Her ‘Aha’ Moment)

“In my first race, my opponent went after me twice on two different kinds of appearance digs: the first was she’s just a pretty face, meaning I’m far too stupid to be in Congress. And I said ‘thank you,'” she said. “The second one was negative campaign mailers where he used a very unattractive picture of me where I happened to be doing a press conference outside and my hair is waving wildly. And he tints it green, so I looked like this crazy witch with crazy hair and a green face—as if to say ‘how could you possibly trust this woman?'”

“They’ve studied this and they’ve found when [a woman]’s appearance is commented on publicly during a campaign, it undermines her; it actually hurts her,” the Senator said. “And it doesn’t matter if the comment is positive or negative. It undermines her credibility.”

But how did Gillibrand gain the confidence to continue running for office, despite her detractors? She attributes a lot of that bravery to playing competitive sports as a girl. “When you play on a soccer team or a squash team, you lose a lot, so you’re not afraid of being in a competitive situation,” she said. “I all of a sudden realized you can win by losing. When you play a tough match, when you compete, you learn a lot about your opponent.”

She also learned through competitive sports that losing can be “a gift.”

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“If you’re willing to fail, you’re willing to compete,” she said. “You will not only learn faster, but that fear is eliminated.”

She added that mentorship helps a lot in navigating those moments when you do fail. She said Hillary Clinton has taken a few moments here and there over the course of her career to guide her in the right direction, and it’s helped her immensely, encouraging audience members to reach out to other young women in a mentorship capacity.

“[Clinton] helped me make the right decisions at the right time,” she said.

(MORE: Kirsten Gillibrand on the 2014 TIME 100)

But Gillibrand was careful to add that, for her, success wasn’t just about empowering professional women to achieve their goals–it was also about helping poor women. “We have to break the glass ceiling, but we also have to clean the sticky floor,” she said, noting that women are the sole or primary breadwinners in 4 out of 10 American families. “All of these women who are working to provide for their kids also need basic support.”

In order to help those women, the U.S. workforce needs paid family leave, equal pay, and universal pre-K, she said, adding that we’re unlikely to see those advancements until there are more women in Congress. Gillibrand pointed to the debate over contraception as an example of how out-of-touch the mostly-male legislature is with women’s issues, noting that 98% of American women have taken some form of contraception in their lives.

“Basic rights that our mothers and grandmothers successfully fought for are still on the table,” she said. “I can guarantee you that if Congress was 51% women, we wouldn’t be wasting a day on whether women should have affordable contraception. We would be talking about the economy.”

TIME feminism

Watch Taylor Swift Praise Emma Watson for Her UN Feminism Speech

The singer applauds the actress for serving as a positive role model for young women

Taylor Swift, who recently explained how Girls creator and star Lena Dunham helped her realize she was a feminist, is now praising another famous actress for her message of female empowerment.

In an interview with French-Canadian talk show Tout Le Monde En Parle, Swift said that actress Emma Watson’s recent speech at the United Nations’ He for She event will help inspire young girls and help them understand feminism. When asked the intense reaction to Watson’s speech, Swift said spoke about the overwhelmingly positive response she saw from her young, female fan base. She also said that if she had had a strong feminist role model at a young age, she would have declared herself as one earlier:

The only thing that I saw was incredible acclaim and praise, and that’s just me going off of what I’m tuned into which is my fan base of real girls out in the world living their lives. And when they saw their favorite actress get up in front of the UN and say what she said, I wish when I was younger, I wish when I was 12-years-old I had been able to watch a video of my favorite actress explaining in such an intellectual, beautiful, poignant way the definition of feminism. Because I would have understood it. And then earlier on in my life I would have proudly claimed I was a feminist because I would have understood what the word means.

Swift argues that many young girls, including her younger self, associate feminism with negativity when it simply means equality among the genders.

So many girls out there say, “I’m not a feminist” because they think it means something angry or disgruntled or complaining or they picture, like, rioting and picketing. It is not that it all. It just simply means that you believe that women and men should have equal right and opportunities, and to say that you’re not a feminist means you think men should have more rights and opportunities than women. I just think a lot of girls don’t know the definition, and the fact that Emma got up and explained it I think is an incredible thing, and I’m happy to live in a world where that happened.

The definition of feminism has become a hot-button topic among female celebrities this year. Many stars have declared themselves not to be feminists because they “love men.” But others, like Swift, have asserted a simpler definition of feminism that does not involve hating men: for example, in her song “Flawless,” Beyoncé samples a speech from Nigerian-born writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie who defines a feminist as “a person who believes in the social, political and economic equality of the sexes.”

In other parts of the interview, Swift offered her views on being a woman in the media:

I think when it comes to females in the media, you’ll see something that kind of upsets me which is that females are pinned up against each other more so than men. For example, you never see online, vote for who has the better butt: this actor or this actor? It’s always, like, this female singer and this female singer, and you get to vote. It’s daily that I see these things and these polls, like, let us know who’s sexier? Who’s the hotter mama? I just don’t see: who’s the hotter dad? One thing that I do believe as a feminist is that in order for us to have gender equality, we have to stop making it a girl fight. We have to stop being so interested in seeing girls trying to tear each other down. It has to be about cheering each other on as women. And that’s just kind of how I feel about it.

And when the interviewer asked her about Miley Cyrus’s scandalous outfits (perhaps doing the exact thing Swift hates by trying to pit her against another female singer her age), Swift responded that she supports women singers expressing their sexuality:

I think that no other female artist should be able to tell me to wear less clothes and I’m not going to tell any other female artist to wear more clothes. As long as it’s their idea, and they’re expressing their sexuality or they’re expressing their strength or it makes them feel like a woman to perform a certain way or dress a certain way… as long as it’s coming from them and they’re living their life on their own terms, I cheer them on.

Watch the entire interview here.

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