Newsweek magazine became the latest publication to come under fire for a cover with the title “What Silicon Valley Thinks Of Women” and now some women are making a statement to counter the controversial cover.
The problem is not the headline or the content, however the image Newsweek chose for their Silicon Valley cover is questionable to some. It shows a drawing of a faceless, slender woman, at work with a black mouse arrow pointed at her bottom, which is lifting the back of her short dress.
The piece, written by Nina Burleigh, is about the rising stars of the famous technology hub in Northern California and the fact that “they don’t have penises” as she puts it bluntly. Women have started to shine in the normally male territory, some of them becoming investors in promising start-ups.
“Computer programmer Lauren Mosenthal and her partner, Eileen Carey, came to California attracted by that kind of possibility. The only problem with their dream is that Silicon Valley has never produced a female Gates, Zuckerberg or Kalanick. There are a few high-profile female entrepreneurs in the Bay Area, but despite the very visible success of corporate titans Meg Whitman, Sheryl Sandberg, and Marissa Mayer, who signed up with companies after they took off, their numbers are relatively minuscule.”
According to the Newsweek Silicon Valley article, “threats of violence, sexist jokes, and casual misogyny, plus reports of gender-based hiring and firing, major-league sexual harassment lawsuits and a financing system that rewards young men and shortchanges women” are frequent occurrences in the workplace. This would explain the small number of prominent women in the tech industry in Silicon Valley.
The magazine cover prompted Tech Crunch to make a brilliant comeback that mimics the Newsweek Silicon Valley cover with one of their own. This one though shows the same woman from the original cover giving the finger with the title, “What (Some) Silicon Valley Women Think Of Newsweek.”
While this author doesn’t really have much of a problem with Burleigh’s account, she clearly has an issue with the way women are viewed in Newsweek’s cover.
“The cover of the story though, is a visceral gut punch. It portrays a woman without eyes, in a short skirt, getting her behind clicked on by a big black cursor. (Whoever these Silicon Valley people are who are thinking of women like this, they are not doing it on their phone or a tablet.)
“Women, as a gender, have been infamously objectified throughout history. It is difficult to be a plurality, a complex being, if you are a woman.”
“For example, while the men in tech get to be a ‘visionary founder’ or ‘rockstar coder’ or ‘Travis Kalanick,’ women in tech get to be a ‘victim’ or ‘maneater’”.
Tech Crunch author, Alexia Tsotsis doesn’t mince words in her criticism of this cover and states that it has set back years of progress in the male-dominated ground zero of tech, “Newsweek’s faceless and sexualized symbol of women in tech is a disservice to these women and countless others.”
Tsotsis reached out to Burleigh to express her displeasure with the Newsweek Silicon Valley cover and got this statement.
“I’m pleased that the cover provoked this sort of reaction. One hopes that the revulsion will eventually be redirected not at a magazine cover but at the perps and the culture that protects them to the great detriment of tens of thousands of women working in tech.”
Do you have a problem with the Newsweek Silicon Valley cover? Do you think it’s sexist?