Introducing The F Bomb Breakfast Club

All the best words start with “F”. Fabulous. Ferocious. Female. Best day of the week? Friday.

If you’re launching or considering a new venture, there may be some other “F” words frequenting your vocabulary. Like… finally! Funded. For real? Or my personal favorite: Fuckety fuck fuck fuck.

Me? I just founded a little law firm, and on the side, a fledgling little idea for an app. I’m dropping “F” bombs left and right.

During Seattle Startup Week, I’ve been taking comfort in surrounding myself with fellow and future female founders. And I hope to make it a habit. So I’ve set my intention for my first 2017 resolution and you’re invited.

Introducing the F Bomb Breakfast Club:

7am on the First Friday of every month
Level Offices 600 First Avenue, Pioneer Square
FREE – RSVP to megan@doyenne-legal.com

BEGINNING FRIDAY, JANUARY 6, 2017

A monthly gathering of female founders and friends in various stages of start-up to bitch, brag, cavort, and collaborate. Peer support and sounding board. Knowledge or expertise to share? Bring it. Questions or problems you need help solving? Let’s do that, too.

I’ll provide the space, coffee, and donuts. You just have to get up early.

PS – Kids, babies, dogs, totally ok.

***UPDATE: Find us on Facebook now at  https://www.facebook.com/groups/GetUpAndSwear

The Hustle

It’s Startup Week in Seattle. And since I recently started up a little law firm that, among other things, serves start ups, I’m in the hustle.

My hustle is currently meeting as many founders, funders, and dreamers as I can. Learning where they are. Gleaning their insights. Sussing out their needs. Clarifying (if only in my head) what I do and don’t have to offer in this space, with old experience and a new role.

A few early impressions:

There are a lot of great ideas bubbling in Seattle right now, for-profit and not-for-profit. It’s inspiring to witness the convergence of passion, drive, and foolishness. In need of hope for the future? Check out your local startup scene.

Entrepreneurial passion is interchangeable between the nonprofit and business sectors, and so is bad advice. There are zealots in both, certain they can lead you to success. Be wary of anyone making sweeping proclamations and speaking in absolutes.

Startups are smarter with women in the room. (<- Srsly, read this.) But men are still speaking over women, mansplaining and manspreading their expertise like cheap mayonnaise. It’s too much. Step back, brothers. Take a beat. Good things just might arise in that space when you stop filling it. And please, for the love of all things holy, as much as I love hearing women talk about the experiences of being women, let’s invite them to talk about their substantive areas of expertise, too.

I have more to offer than I thought. Technically, the legal aspects of starting a nonprofit usually aren’t too complicated. Starting a viable nonprofit that might actually accomplish what it aspires to? Strongly helped by working with someone who has been there in the trenches. Negotiating a contract? Any lawyer worth their salt can walk you through key elements of a reasonable agreement. But the ability to draw on real life examples of triumphantly successful and epically disastrous ones to help you understand the practical implications? I just may be your gal. Time to stop doubting myself.

Now, back to it. Can’t get out of the office to join me? Catch Twitter highlights at #SSW2016.

 

 

 

 

The Morning After

So that did not go as planned.

Like the majority of Americans who voted in yesterday’s historic election, this was not the outcome I wanted. I am horrified, and muddling my way through a shame-spiral typically reserved for the morning after a bender. Except, of course, there was no bender.

I have no patience today for political analysis.

Don’t come near me with your patronizing “Bernie would have won” bullshit.

Zero tolerance for sunny optimism.

Seriously, did you just try to tell me it’s time to unite?

We have just handed the trifecta of House, Senate, and White House over to racism and misogyny, to a self-interested minority who preyed on the fears of a dying white Christian patriarchy. We are about to face the violent peeling away of forty years of slow, hard-won progress on healthcare, reproductive rights, and environmental protection. We are about to march belligerently backward on education, criminal justice, civil rights, immigration, and financial industry reform.

I have no more time for feelings today. The task before us is too huge, and there is no time to waste. I have the next four years to plan.

My Resolutions:

  1. I will advocate for reform. Those next steps I wrote about yesterday? Voting reform, civic education reform, political party system reform, and reparations? I vow to become better informed and more involved, and to advocate zealously for those.
  2. I will give my time and money. I will double down on pro bono service and volunteering. I will say yes more. To taking cases. To serving on committees and boards (reliably and consistently). I will pay special attention to being of service, when invited, to organizations led by and serving women and people of color. However I can,
  3. I will support my friends and colleagues providing pro bono legal aid in the area of immigration. And I will finally bring my scattershot approach to philanthropy into laser sharp focus on justice and equality, economic opportunity, and the environment.
  4. I will do my part to end racism. I will continue, alone and together with my circle of friends, to do the hard work of looking inward to understand racism and privilege – especially when it is really, really uncomfortable – and continue to learn and use tools for building a new society that does not thrive on white supremacy.
  5. I will stop apologizing for being a feminist and start acting like one.

Oh, and one last thing. This one is all for me. For my self-care. I will train like Mishonne for the zombie apocalypse because right now, I so badly need to feel like a bona fide badass.

 

My Pantsuit Party Plea

It’s here. Finally. Election Day, 2016.

This morning I rocked my favorite pantsuit and carried my damn-straight-it’s-hot-pink handbag to turn in my ballot. All badass and empowered, I handed it over, and burst into tears.

This is not another blog post about whether Hillary Rodham Clinton is qualified. She is. Or whether she deserves our vote. She does.

This little rant is about my hopes for what comes next after we shatter one more glass ceiling tonight.

A sobering 81% of Americans either don’t, or barely, trust the government to do what is right. Nine out of ten lack confidence in our political system. Here are four ways we might begin to turn that around.

Voting Reform

We need to make it easier to register, to vote, and to cast informed votes. Automatic registration. Strengthen the Voting Rights Act. Prosecute felonious voter intimidation. Restore voting rights in a timely manner, and inform people when suspended rights are restored. Widen the window and vote by mail, as we have done here in Washington. We have three leisurely weeks to deliberate and complete our ballots, and we have secure drop boxes in our neighborhoods to deliver them sans postage. That means we have time to research, to discuss, to make our choices thoughtfully. And we have means to turn in our ballots without being harassed. No one has to miss work. No one has to rush through their ballot. No one has to survive the gauntlet of sign-waving zealots at the polls.

Unfortunately, voter turnout remains barely above 60%. Tick this one off as #necessarybutnotsufficient.

Education Reform

We actually need to teach people about civics. None of us should be waiting until we get our ballots to learn our state’s laws about referenda and initiatives, to find out what our state and federal constitutions actually say, to find out what a bond or a levy is and how they differ from a tax. If you’re Googling “What is the electoral college?” today, you are part of the problem. But it’s not your fault. Our public schools should bear the responsibility of educating future voters about our unique form of democracy, its strengths and weaknesses, its promises and unintended consequences.

Perhaps a more informed electorate might be inspired to improve upon those flaws in our system. And perhaps that might lead to more choice. Real choice.

System Reform

Our two party system has resulted in deep polarization and an environment in which nuance and new ideas can’t possibly survive. But here’s the hard truth: Sitting on the sidelines for four years then casting a third party vote in a presidential election is no way to transition to a multi-party system. Want choice? We have to build it. From the ground up. Articulate a platform. Make room for new perspectives. Organize with others. Find and cultivate candidates. Put them in office at every level of government. Support them and hold them accountable. Form a network that is bigger than a single politician. Think long term.

And even within a vibrant multi-party system, if we want full participation, we have tremendous work to do to address racial disparity and injustice in our country.

Reparations

There, I said it. The world did not collapse because I dared speak these words. If you have not already done so, I implore you to read Ta-Nehisi Coates’ The Case for Reparations.

Those of us who loves this country must come to terms with its violent birth. With the genocide of people who already lived here when our ancestors “discovered” it. With the atrocity of slavery and fallacy we white people built this great nation. We stand today on the shoulders of millions of people who did not offer their shoulders to us: we whipped and beat them and brought them to their knees, then climbed up on those bloodied shoulders and pretended to stand on our own.

We will not be great until we hold ourselves accountable for this history and to the extent that we can, attempt to make it right. Yes, it is possible to do that. There is nothing absurd or fantastical about honoring our promises to indigenous and African Americans. In fact, it is imperative to our integrity and credibility as a nation. One out of three Americans is not white, and they need and expect us to come clean about who we really are as a country, and then to do better.

Will these four things fix the economy, jobs, the environment, climate, reproductive freedom, health care, education, national security? No, no, of course not. But they just might inspire more confidence, which might inspire more contribution of new ideas and innovative thinking. And that would be a very good thing.

 

Scary Stories – Leadership Edition

It’s hard to gain perspective on your own leadership when you’re in the midst of leading. So one promise I made myself when I headed into my recent sabbatical was to spend time in candid reflection on my experiences.

There are many kinds of leadership – from stepping up to spearhead neighborhood efforts to serving on volunteer boards to being responsible for teams of people. It’s that last one I want to get real about. It’s the hardest. The damn scariest. The one where good intentions count the least in the face of bad results.

Based on my totally scientific and completely thorough research, this is the point at which most blog posts on leadership get really shallow. Where the leadership lessons read like the phony answers you’ve been coached to give to the world’s worst interview question: What’s your professional weakness?

“Gee, my worst trait is that I just work too darn hard.”

You’ve seen this useless blather masquerading as leadership advice:

“My biggest leadership lesson was taking too long to realize what an amazing leader I am.”

I’m not going to give you any of that. Instead, I’m going to my darkest places of shame and confessing some of the ways I can see now that I have let people down. Why open this particular crypt? Maybe by coming clean, by owning them, by saying them out loud, I can bury them in the past where they belong, and get on with the business of being a better and better badass every day. Join me?

Light a fire. Grab a cup of something warm. Here’s some cold truth . . .

#1 – I did not insulate my team from the crazy. Every organization has its crazy. Usually it’s at the top. An egomaniacal chief. A board run amuck. An executive team in disarray. When your job is to lead people inside an organization, you’re top priority is to keep them as far from that mess as possible. Your staff do not deserve the burden of worrying about sheer lunacy they have no power to fix, and you should never allow them to be plucked from the ranks to answer to someone above, or crazier than, you. I’ve been guilty of both.

#2 – I was the crazy. This one is hard to say out loud. I. Was. The. Crazy. I have gotten so wrapped up in my own [insecurity, panic, ego, frustration, idealism, opportunism] that I’ve burdened people by sharing too much about my emotional state, or worse, created totally unnecessary chaos for them. “I see that you’re nailing your goals this year. How about we toss them out and make up some new ones? You see, I have this idea! Let’s start over.”

#3 – I expected too much without providing enough direction. Sometimes an idea or assignment or task has been so clear in my own mind that I have completely, utterly, failed to bother to check to see if I had clearly articulated it to the poor people I later held accountable for making it happen, let alone sought their input or buy-in before simply expecting them to get ‘er done.

#4 – I talked more than I listened. One of the best pieces of advice I ever got, and frankly too often ignored, was this: You have two ears and one mouth. Use them proportionally. As a leader of people, it is imperative you learn where people are when they come to you for help. Are they working something out, and need a sounding board while they solve it on their own? Are they out beyond their experience and in need of plain direction? You’ve got to figure out if this is a coaching opportunity, a plea for direction, or simply a chance to listen while the person in front of you opens up and reaches some new level of awesomeness. As I look back, I shudder to think of all the times I jumped right into sharing what I would do, how I would fix it, or what I recommend.

#5 – I was overly invested in my own vision of success. I am stubborn. I mean really, really stubborn. Sometimes you get to call this tenacity and it’s a good thing. Like when you’re at the back of the pack in a race but you keep plugging along anyway. But professionally, the boss’s stubbornness is a morale killer. A murderer of hope. See how I shifted there from me, to you, to an ambiguous boss? That’s how hard it is to own up to this. But in my heart of hearts, I know I have done this. I have been so certain that my idea was the best, so convinced that I needed to be the author or the architect that I failed to see the better ideas around me, or the better collective vision, and I crushed the optimism and creativity of my team. After all, why bother bringing new ideas to a boss who already has all the answers?

This by no means is an exhaustive list. But these are the big five failures that haunt me. Sure, I’ve got some strengths. But it was time to exorcise these ghosts so I can move forward, without ever forgetting the cost of getting it wrong when people are counting on me.

How about you?

 

You Can Do Anything

The last few weeks have provided a deep well of material for one who loves badass women. And yet, I haven’t been able to find the words.

An historic presidential election in which a woman is a major party candidate has devolved so far from the issues, one might be forgiven for forgetting what the issues actually were. Instead, we’ve been witness to the vile gasps of a dying patriarchy taking every shameful last swipe possible at the prospect of a female future. No going out with dignity. It has peeled off its human façade to unleash its sick and sinister soul.

“I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star they let you do it. You can do anything.”

I have been surrounded by so much good lately. Personally. Professionally. In my community. There has been so much good.

But still, there is this:

“Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything.”

And I can’t get it out of my head. The casual bravado with which a wealthy white man brags about sexually assaulting women. Its dismissal as locker room talk, as boy talk, as something we should shrug off because, really, we just weren’t meant to hear it.

Grab them by the pussy.

In this vulgar and honest moment, one man validates our worst fears: that we are valued as mere objects available for the amusement and satisfaction of men like him, as vessels into which they can plunge their deep need to dominate. And while the horror of this particular shit show tells us much about the character of one particular ass hat, unworthy to be named here, it also reveals something frightening about us as a society, that we raised, enriched, elevated, celebrated, and ultimately put him within a hair’s breadth of our nation’s highest office.

I can say confidently that had I been there, in this particular perverse proverbial locker room testosterone fest, I would have shut it down.  What worries me are the countless times my own action or inaction helped to build a culture of people that nominates a man for president who grabs them by the pussy.

In the board room, when I’ve worried whether I looked too dowdy.

In a business meeting, when I’ve worried if I was dressed too provocatively.

When I’ve paused in front a mirror to worry that I looked too fat, or too old, for whatever business day I was about to slay.

When I’ve allowed my perceived, relative attractiveness to men determine my level of confidence for the moment ahead of me.

No more.

My response to the foul sexism that is playing out for us in daily headlines is to vow to be a better role model to my nieces and nephews. To show up. To own up. To succeed. To shine. To fight the impulse to doubt myself. To silence the voice inside me that says I’m not good enough. To be bold, and also to be good. To be a person in the world whose character behind closed doors matches the persona I curate on social media. To trust my instincts. To love my double chin and gray roots. To embrace my bushy eyebrows and laughable shoe game. To listen. To learn.

To stomp out the patriarchy and dance on its ruins.

And by all means, to vote.

The “B” Word

What actually goes on in the Board room?  Does it matter who’s in there when decisions are made?

“B” is for Boards, as in, that male-dominated gaggle of experts whose profound knowledge and expertise accelerate a company’s success. That merry band of who’s who, whose resources and name recognition buy your company credibility. Or opportunity. Or time.

“B” is for Board Room, that man-cave like sanctuary where big decisions get made.

In the Board Room, beyond fiduciary duties, the roles and responsibilities of a board of directors can vary depending on things like the company’s business or industry, or the stage in its lifecycle. But invariably, boards hire, fire, and compensate chief executives. They inform and approve corporate strategy and key business decisions. They consider and adopt policies that impact employees, customers, and communities. So yes, it matters who is there to make those decisions.

Gender diversity matters in the Board room. Companies led by boards that include women perform better on everything from return on equity, sales, and invested capital, to corporate social responsibility. Women bring talent and insights desperately needed. In the technology sector for example, women directors are nearly twice as likely as men to possess professional technology experience, which seems like it might be a good thing for a technology company.

And yet women are woefully underrepresented on corporate boards. Just last year, the 2020 Women on Boards Gender Diversity Index of Fortune 1000 companies showed that only 17.9% of corporate directors were women. According to Catalyst, women of color account for a mere 2.8% of directors on Fortune 500 boards, and are twice as likely as white women to serve on multiple boards – meaning, companies are overly relying on the same few women of color rather than making space for more.

Of the 22 Washington companies on the Fortune 1000 list, ZERO have majority female boards. ZERO have a 50/50 gender balanced board. In fact, you might be surprised at how some of our state’s giants have shut women out of the Board Room:

ZERO women on the board of Zillow.

2 women on the boards of Costco (15%), Expedia (15%), and Nordstrom (17%)

3 women on the boards of Microsoft (27%) and Starbucks (23%)

A notable exception to this embarrassing list is Alaska Air, with 5 women on the board (45%).

Gender is far from the only type of diversity we should demand in the Board Rooms of the companies that so profoundly impact our region. But it’s an important one. 51% of the country is now female. Is it preposterous to think that a female majority board might have a competitive advantage in this changing demographic landscape?

Which gets to me to the final “B”. The big “B”. B is for Bring It. As in, bring on your best, lamest, most thinly transparent excuses for why this status quo is acceptable. Because we’re ready, and we’re coming for the Board Room.

 

SEC Rules and Gender Bias

Do investor rules keep women out of the game?

Since women earn 79 cents to the dollar on men, perhaps new SEC accreditation standards for women could help level the start-up playing field.

Women-led start-ups receive about 7% of all venture funding in the U.S. There is a wealth of female-inspired innovation not getting funded because men hold the wealth to fund it. In early stages, I think men often simply don’t understand or don’t value women’s ideas. One example? Sara Blakely couldn’t find a female patent attorney and the male patent attorneys she did find just couldn’t get their brains around the concept for Spanx – an idea which entirely disrupted a $110 billion global industry and made her the youngest self-made female billionaire.

Men are 60% more likely to get funded for the same pitch compared to their female counterparts seeking early stage funding. Gender bias plays out daily in conference rooms and board rooms where men are often credited for women’s ideas. Hat tip to the women of the Obama Administration for calling out and developing a specific strategy for combating this phenomena.

Here’s how the federal Securities and Exchange Commission compounds this gender bias: Its rules, designed to protect the public, make it really hard for women to join men in the angel investor market, where many ideas are either saved or sunk. To invest in a private venture, to be an angel, one must be accredited. Because the risk is so high, the standards for accreditation are meant to ensure that only those with money to lose are allowed at the table.

The standards are this: you must have earned $200k a year (or $300k jointly with your spouse) for the last two years, or you must have a million dollars in net assets, excluding your personal residence. As a matter of public interest this all seems perfectly reasonable, until you take into account persistent gender pay and wealth gaps. Women are simply less likely than men to achieve these accreditation standards. Which means that if you’re a woman with a great idea, and you need funding to get it out of the lab or into the market, it’s going to be harder to find a woman you can pitch the idea to than it is to find a man who is less likely to fund you.

How different would the start-up landscape look if we pared investor accreditation standards for women with pay equity? As long as women earn 79% of what men earn, shouldn’t we be allowed in on angel investing if we earn $158k a year or have $790,000 in net assets? What kind of capital might this open up for women entrepreneurs?

Of course, women are needed at every stage of investing, not just seed and start up. Last year, women-owned ventures accounted for 29.2% of entrepreneurs seeking angel investment, and only 14.4% of them got it. That’s a low yield rate; one that declined steadily over the previous four years. One possible reason? Women investors accounted for only 25.3% of a $25 billion angel market. If women entrepreneurs and women-owned companies are going to get a fair(er) shot at a slice of that pie, they’re going to need access to more women investors.

Sure, this business of removing barriers is a slippery slope. I mean, making it easier than it is now for women to invest could lead to more gender equity on corporate boards, since investing is one way directors “earn” their seats. And that means women could be more involved in big decisions that impact billions of customers and employees. Imagine what crazy ideas we might have. And since high risk can lead to big rewards, allowing women in on the game might just build more wealth for women. I wonder what we’d do with that.

I think it’s time women came knocking on the SEC’s door. Don’t you?

(PS – Clearly I’m new to this whole blogging business. Not clear to me are the rules for where to bold or what to cite, so I’m just doing that shit randomly. Shoot me an email if you have burning thoughts on such matters.)

Sh*t Women Lawyers Put Up With

Yesterday I attended a thought-provoking discussion about how to move beyond dialogue to address gender, age, and racial bias in the legal profession. It should be surprising to absolutely no one that in 2016, women attorneys still encounter misogyny on a daily basis. Nor should it give you pause to understand how this is compounded for women of color, older women, queer women, and women with disabilities.

Here in Washington, about 45% of all lawyers are women compared to 36% nationally. Yet women – especially women of color – flee the profession in droves after a few years. Who wouldn’t leave a profession in which 44.7% of all associates nationally are women, and yet only 21.5% are partners, and only 18% are equity partners? Why stay in a profession in which all women earn 77 cents to the dollar of their male counterparts, and in which women equity partners still earn a mere 80 cents to the dollar of their male counterparts with similar books of business?

Let’s get candid, shall we, about women’s experiences in the law. Here’s a mere sampling of experiences I have heard female attorneys describe:

Being mistaken for the court reporter or administrative staff

Being called “honey” by one’s client, opposing counsel, and judge

Being scolded from the bench, and having one’s commitment to their client questioned, for having a pressing childcare issue

Being called “sassy” or “saucy” (each of which carries sexual connotations) for speaking up

Being passed over when introducing new clients to the firm

Being excluded from invitations to social opportunities where business is discussed

Being called “cute” in a professional setting

Being questioned about parenthood choices and priorities in situations in which a man would never be questioned (I have yet to meet a man who lost a contract or job opportunity because the employer or client worried he might want to have children in the next few years)

Being told how to dress or how not to dress, like ….

Being told to wear pink because it softens your appearance, and then connecting better with the jury because the pink touches in that suit, in fact, softened your appearance (apparently jurors need lawyers not only to be competent, but to fit comfortably within gender stereotypes)

Being critiqued for speaking up too much, too loudly, not enough, or not loudly enough (when and how to speak up seems to be a popular topic of feedback for women that my male colleagues say they don’t hear much about)

Facing a presumption of incompetence and being treated with surprise for being competent

In my career, I’ve also been told that women founders don’t face any unique barriers in launching ventures, that there is no difference in how women and men CEOs are treated by their boards, that it’s best for society when women choose family over career, and that women would occupy more positions of leadership if they didn’t choose family over career. That’s right sisters, we are damned when we do, and damned when we don’t.

So, why stay? Here are my three reasons:

First, lawyers hold a tremendous amount of privilege and power which can be used for tremendous good. Leaving the profession concedes this privilege and power to others.

Second, women bring unique insight, experience, and talents to solving problems. Those gifts are needed in every area of law.

Third, sticking it out paves the way for others traditionally marginalized from and within the practice of law. We need more trailblazers.

And here are a few ideas for how we can stick it out, together:

Build a network with other women lawyers with whom you can vent, strategize, give, and receive support. Be there for each other.

Get involved with organizations – like Washington Women Lawyers – that actively work to dismantle barriers for women in the legal profession.

Learn about intersectionality and own the privilege you bring to a given situation. Make space for other women – especially women of color – to be seen, heard, and valued.

Finally, when you need a little levity and inspiration (don’t we all?), enjoy a little Notorious RBG, which pays homage to perhaps the most badass doyenne of them all.

Those are my thoughts. What are yours?

Sources:
http://www.wsba.org/About-WSBA/Diversity
http://www.americanbar.org/groups/women/resources/statistics.html
http://www.americanbar.org/groups/women/initiatives_awards/women_of_color_research_initiative.html

Do women’s voices matter?

When we’re holding up examples of brilliance, does it matter which examples we choose? I think so. Apparently, the TED Radio Hour does not.

Like a Netflix junkie caught up on House of Cards and Orange is the New Black, I’ve been craving my next high. A friend turned me on to podcasts. Serial, to be precise. I devoured it. When the second season was released – I waited until all the episodes were available so I could sink into binge-y delight with it, too. But I needed more. On my daily walks recently, I began scanning my podcast library furiously for a fix. I found a few duds, a few surprises, and a lot of A-for-effort small batch productions out on the frontier of this fascinating medium.

And then I tuned in to the NPR TED Radio Hour. I recognized host Guy Raz’s voice immediately. I’ve heard a few great TED talks over the years. So I downloaded a bunch of episodes and rejoiced that my walks would again have some purpose.

The rejoicing was short lived. As I listened, I started feeling something … familiar. An annoyance. An itch. Something just beneath the surface you just can’t quite scratch.

This is a show self-described as “based on riveting TED-talks from the world’s most remarkable minds.” The emphasis there is all mine. The concept is that Guy and his team cull the TED world for the very best and most brilliant idea makers out there, and bring them to you in a tight, one hour symphony of interview and epic snippets.

The trouble was, I rarely heard women’s voices. Maybe it’s just this episode, this topic, I thought. Each time. And so I started listening to them all.

Obsessed, I sat down a few days ago to analyze the show. Of the 10 most recent TED Radio Hour episodes, women represented only 21% of speakers highlighted. One in five. In two episodes, there were no women speakers at all, and there were no instances of women-only episodes. In not one single episode was a woman the first speaker highlighted. Not one. She always appears later – like an afterthought, an antidote, an alternative.

This is funny, in that “this is not funny at all” kind of a way, because half the planet is female. Sure, we’re woefully underrepresented in the board room, the court room, elected office, and just about everywhere else that power resides. Apparently, we’re also invisible when guys like Guy go looking for the world’s most remarkable minds.

I’ve set up a fun little dashboard to track these stats. I now anxiously await each week’s episode in hopes Guy will pull the rug out from under me. He hasn’t yet. And maybe it’s not his fault. Maybe it’s just slim pickings from the TED archives. After all, he didn’t set the stage, he merely decided where to point the spotlight.

But what are we saying when we declare only 1 of 5 of the world’s most remarkable minds belong to women? What are we telling girls when we’re driving in our cars, and we choose to listen to the TED Radio Hour on NPR? “Hey girls, listen to these remarkable men on the radio! Shhhhhh. Aren’t they brilliant? When you grow up, you’re going to have so many amazing opportunities to listen to men’s remarkable and brilliant ideas! Oh yeah, I think there’s a lady whose going to talk, too, but we’re home now, so I guess we’ll just have to miss her. I’m sure whatever she had to say couldn’t have been that important.

I think it matters. To whom we hand the microphone. Where we shine the spotlight. What we edit, and how we produce. It matters, because in curating remarkableness, we’re shaping people’s ideas of what kind of person is remarkable – and what kind of person is not.

By the way, Guy’s next project is another NPR podcast called How I Built This, in which he promises to feature “innovators, entrepreneurs, idealists, and the stories behind the movements they built.” I have high hopes for gender equity in this next venture, because I’m an idealist. Or a damn fool.  Either way, I’ll be listening. At least in the beginning.