Variety’s Power of Women: Inspiration Impact Honorees

Last September, I wrote a post about Variety’s Power of Women Honorees. And today, Variety is at it again, honoring six incredible ladies in the entertainment industry with the Inspiration Impact Honoree award for their admirable humanitarian efforts with their chosen causes.

Variety’s Inspiration Impact Honorees

Susan Sarandon is being honored for her work with Hope North, which works to educate and heal the youth of Uganda’s civil war. They are honoring Sarah Jessica Parker for her work with the New York City Ballet, and Claire Danes for her work with Afghan Hands. Broadway darling Idina Menzel co-created A Broader Way, an arts centered program for urban girls. International super model Iman volunteers with Dr. Hawa Abdi Foundation, which provides support and relief for women and children in Somalia. And last but not least, A+E Networks president & CEO Nancy Dubuc works with veterans group Project Rubicon / The Mission Continues.

And there they are, the six amazing Tough Cookies who are blazing a clearer path in the male-dominated field of filmmaking and showing that you can be powerful and successul WHILE philanthropic and kind.

You go, Tough Cookies!

Source: Variety

Ladies, Bitcoin is Awesome!

Bitcoin survey on genderAccording to the latest of Lui Smyth’s Simulacrum new online survey of Bitcoin users, about 93% of all users of the cryptocurrency are male. Now it may not be a terribly representative sample, but it still is a strong indicator.

As Bitcoin enthusiast Arianna Simpson said, “If women fail to take an active interest in Bitcoin now, when it is still in its infancy and its potential is largely untapped, we will have yet another sector in which the gender is underrepresented and trailing.”

As the Chief Content Officer and Executive Producer of Money & Tech, I’m driven to tell the story behind the incredible innovations we are seeing in financial tech and digital currency right now. How people are reacting to it, what it means for us as a global community and economy, and who is helping drive it forward into the future.

But at the same time, my path and my passion are also (and have always have been) about the strength and presence of women in arenas where we are less represented, which is just as true of filmmaking as it is of tech and (even more so) the digital currency community.

I’ve forged my career so far by tackling industries commonly dominated by men – including filmmaking, tech, and even wildland firefighting – proving that women can be just as strong, powerful and nerdy.

I’ve shown that women can be leaders on the edge of exciting new horizons. And that’s pretty much where we are now with digital currency and its foundational technology of the distributed decentralized ledger. I think we’ve only just tapped the surface of what is possible, and the effect this can have on us, our lives, the global economy, and the way we interact and exchange value as human beings.

In fact, that’s precisely what I talk about on the Bitcoin panel at the San Francisco BIL conference back in early March. This is a fascinating moment in history to be on the front lines of. It’s pretty exciting stuff!

So c’mon ladies, don’t be intimidated! Let’s take on this big techie world of cryptocurrency together. It’s about time Bitcoin got a woman’s touch, don’t you think?

Let’s give Bitcoin a taste of our Tough Cookie!

Arianna Huffington’s Third Metric of Success

Arianna Huffington on ThriveMedia mogul Arianna Huffington has written an inspirational new book titled, “THRIVE: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-being, Wisdom, and Wonder.

In her words, this “third metric” for success calls into question the fact that,

Over time our society’s notion of success has been reduced to money and power… This idea of success can work — or at least appear to work — in the short term. But over the long term, money and power by themselves are like a two-legged stool — you can balance on them for a while, but eventually you’re going to topple over.

So this third metric that Arianna suggests we need consists of four pillars: well-being, wisdom, wonder and giving.

That’s why Arianna had nap rooms put into her Huffington Post offices. I can relate when she talks about how tempting it is for editors, reporters and engineers to try to match the non-stop news cycle that never sleeps, and risk serious burnout in the process. I’ve experienced this first hand myself with my day job at Money & Tech.

But the far more important thing than keeping up 24/7 is making sure we take breaks to rest and recharge, instead of forcing ourselves to drone on exhausted and drained, burning the candle at all ends. Because if we don’t take care of ourselves, then who will?

Part of being a Tough Cookie is taking responsibility for your own life, your own health and well-being, and making sure you balance your heart and mind, so that they are both able to weather the long, hard journey to success and self-worth.

It’s also about redefining our idea of success, so that we can quiet that annoying inner critic – or obnoxious roommate living in our head, as Arianna likes to call it – when it starts to get down on us. I’m sure as hell guilty of having a very loud and disruptive one myself. So I’m taking this lesson to heart, and I hope you will too!

Let’s cultivate a giving, heartful spirit within ourselves and our endeavors, and make an effort to embrace curiosity and empathy. That way, we can still embody sweet and soft, even while we are kicking ass and achieving our version of success. That’s so important to being a thriving, dynamic woman.

And coincidentally, that’s precisely what it means to be a Tough Cookie.

Source: DailyWorth

One Bad Ass Economist

Economist Susan AtheyIf you haven’t heard of Susan Athey, you should go read about her right now… or at least, right after you read this anyway. 🙂 First, let’s take a moment to review her beyond impressive resume.

Susan Athey earned not one, but three bachelor’s degrees in economics, mathematics, and computer science from Duke University at the age of 20. She then went on to promptly get her Ph.D. from the Stanford Graduate School of Business at the age of 24.

She then began a very successful career in academia, rising up through the ranks at MIT and then at Stanford – earning tenure as a professor at both universities.

But if that wasn’t cool enough, possibly her most impressive achievement is this: She was the first female to be awarded the John Bates Clark Medal, a super prestigious medal awarded annually by the American Economic Association to economists under 40 who:

“have made a significant contribution to economic thought and knowledge”

And of the first 17 economists awarded this medal, 11 went on to win the Nobel Prize Award. That’s some stepping stone! Not only did the American Economic Association decide Susan Athey had made such a contribution, they also found her the first woman to deserved this honor.

Now I won’t say what their thinking might have been for all those years when no women were awarded this medal. But whatever standards or glass ceiling they may have (consciously or unconsciously) placed over this accolade, Susan Athey shattered them right open.

Now that’s a Tough Cookie!

I had the privilege of meeting this incredible woman at the recent CoinSummit conference in San Francisco. I love that as Chief Content Officer and Producer of financial tech news media company Money & Tech (aka my day job), I get to attend a lot of these events and meet the top minds in tech, finance and economics.

Watch the CoinSummit interview with Susan Athey that I produced for Money & Tech – Susan Athey on Money & Tech

The Rise Of Self-Made Women Billionaires

Sheryl SandbergSheryl Sandberg is one hell of a pioneer and Tough Cookie. We’ve talked about how male-dominated the world of tech has been, and how it’s about time women stepped up in that arena.

And Sheryl has been doing just that. She’s practically the poster-child (or poster-adult) for that. She’s managed to established herself as a dominant figure in tech. And she did it without founding her own company or writing a single line of code.

The Forbes Billionaires list added 268 new names in 2014, and of those, 42 are women. That’s not bad odds. There’s still plenty of room for that to improve of course – but still, not too shabby.

And Sheryl’s got one of those spots.

Also on the list with her are these fellow self-made women billionaires:

Folorunsho AlakijaFolorunsho Alakija is Nigeria’s first female billionaire, and she did it on her own. She started out a secretary for a Nigerian merchant bank in the 1970s, then quit her job to study fashion design in England and eventually founded Nigerian fashion label Supreme Stitches which boasted some seriously upscale clientele. But that only got her so far. So in 1993, she secured an oil-prospecting license for a 620,000-acre plot of land, hired Texaco to assess the oil potential, and discovered it was one of Nigeria’s most prolific oil blocks – of which she owns a 60% stake. She had to fight Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo for her share of that at one point, but she won out in the end. (Boy, did she!)

Denise Coates

Denise Coates is a self-made billionaire in the U.K, who got her first taste of success taking over some of her father’s shops as an accountant and turning them around to sell for a pretty profit. She then noticed the success of online gambling businesses, and launched the online betting firm in March 2001, of which she is now joint CEO and the primary shareholder.

Pretty inspiring stories, huh? Let’s here it for these self-made Tough Cookies! And if they can do it, so can you!

Source: Forbes

There’s No Gender Gap in Tech (Salaries)

The tech industry is one of the most common fields accused of having low female representation – and I’d have to agree, having worked in tech at Google myself.

But the American Association of University Women recently conducted a study titled “Graduating to a Pay Gap: The Earnings of Women and Men One Year after College Graduation (pdf) that evaluated the effects of gender on salary for approx. 15,000 recent graduates of similar age and degree. And what they found was that occupations such as nursing, engineering, and math / computer / physical sciences are actually the best paying jobs for women one year out of college, and also tend to be well paying throughout the rest of their careers.

Pretty crazy, huh? It’s pretty common knowledge those are some of the highest paying occupations in general, but they are also for women specifically.

What’s more, a United States Bureau of Labor Statistics weekly earnings report showed that women who work 30 to 39 hours per week make 111% of what men make. So these women working fewer hours are actually dominating, probably coz they’re so smart and efficient that they don’t need to work more than that.

So then why aren’t there more women in tech fields? Does it come down to a perception problem then? Because it’s certainly not the reality that women are paid less than men in tech. The two highest paying professions with wage equality are in technology: engineering and computer sciences.

Equal Pay Professions US chart

So ladies, stop hesitating and harboring this silly notion that you won’t succeed in tech simply because it’s so male dominated. The only way to change that fact is to change it!

Let’s stop catering to these silly pre-existing notions about tech and engineering, and get our super smart & sexy asses in the game!

Tech needs Tough Cookies. And that means you!

Why Joss Whedon Writes Strong Women

Joss Whedon on Equality NowIt’s probably one of the highest honors in the world of film and storytelling to be recognized and revered by the incomparable Meryl Streep. In this Cookie’s humble opinion, there’s simply no one more universally talented and decorated.

So when Ms. Streep tips her hat to a man for his great work on equality for women and girls, you know this guy must be pretty amazing.

And he is. He’s Joss Whedon.

Perhaps one of the eloquent explanations on the issue of gender equality (and from a man’s voice) came from Joss Whedon’s thank you speech to Equality Now, when they honored this acclaimed writer & director in 2006 for his incredible work creating strong female leading roles.

In his speech, Joss shared a story that he’s experienced at nearly every press junket he’s ever attended, and nearly every of the roughly 50 interviews he has to attend in a day at each of them. He goes into interview #1 and at some point, the reporter asks, “Why do you always write these strong women characters?”

So Joss Whedon replies:

“I think it’s because of my mother. She really was an extraordinary inspirational tough cool sexy funny woman, and that’s the kind of woman I’ve always surrounded myself with.”

But that doesn’t seem to satisfy the reporters. So in his next interview, when he’s asked the same exact question, he offers this answer instead.

“It’s because of my father. My father and my step father… they prized wit and resolve in the women they were with, above all things. And they were among the rare men who understood that recognizing someone else’s power does not diminish your own.”

Then he goes to the next interview, and is once again asked this same question. “Why do you write these strong women characters?” So he offers another incredibly eloquent answer:

“Because these stories give people strength. I think there is something particular about a female protagonist that allows a man to identify with her, that opens up something… that he might be unable to express, hopes and desires he might be uncomfortable expressing through a male-identification figure.”

And somehow, they still don’t seem to get it. Frustrated and tired, Joss Whedon sits in the next interview and hears the question, “So why do you write these strong women characters?”

“Because they’re hot.”

By the 50th interview in the same day where he’s asked this exact same question, Joss Whedon finally erupts at the reporter and demands, “Why are you asking me this? Why aren’t you asking a hundred other guys why they don’t write strong women characters?”

As Joss Whedon puts it:

“Equality is not a concept, it’s not something we should be striving for. It’s a necessity. Equality is like gravity. We need it to stand on this earth as men and women. And the misogyny that is in every culture is NOT a true part of the human condition. It is life out of balance and that imbalance is sucking something out of the soul of every man and woman who is confronted with it. We NEED equality… kinda now.”

Reporters: “So why do you write these strong female characters?”

“Because you’re still asking me that question.”

Nuff said.

Seriously, why is this such a hard thing for people, like these reporters, to grasp? Let’s do like Joss Whedon and express the necessity that is equality. Let’s let people in on the secret that “recognizing someone else’s power does not diminish your own.” Let’s all be Tough Cookies!

Source: Upworthy

Cate Blanchett on Why Female-Centered Films Rule

Cate Blanchett's Oscar speechWhen Cate Blanchett won the Best Actress Oscar for her title role in Blue Jasmine last night, she couldn’t help but mention how incredible this honor is, not just for herself, but for all women in this field.

And the audience roared in applause when she passionately pointed out this common mis-perception:

“Perhaps those of us in the industry who are still foolishly clinging to the idea that female films, with women at the center, are niche experiences. They are not. Audiences want to see them. And in fact, they earn money.”

You said it Cate!

Being a filmmaker myself, it’s also become my life’s work to create films and video storytelling that feature women and demonstrate their strength & depth. And that’s precisely why I created Tough Cookie too, as a brand and name that I plan to embody in all of my film work and beyond, and encourage other women (and men) to do as well.

Because films (and other mediums) that feature women at the center are NOT niche! They are broad-reaching, and widely appreciated, and most certainly business-viable.

Thank you Cate Blanchett for reminding us of that in your greatest moment of triumph. Now that’s a Tough Cookie!

Helen Mirren on Women In Film

Helen Mirren at Women in FilmAt the Women in Film reception on Friday evening, co-host Helen Mirren got up to speak and immediately proceeded command the attention of the room.

“Shut up,” she said boldly, “cause Mama’s in the house.”

She then turned her attention to another group and said,

“That includes all you guys over there near the bar.”

And boy did they. Everyone did, because Helen Mirren is one Tough Cookie, who knows how to command all the respect and strength she embodies. It’s unfortunate that only 41 women  have directed the last 1,100 top films. But if we can encourage more women to do like Helen Mirren and stand up and take charge, we can change that for the better.

“I don’t often wish I’m younger,” she went on to say, “But tonight, looking at this audience, I do wish I was about 40 years younger… I’m just so excited about what happens next.”

She talked about the progress many women have already started making these changes happen in the film industry, and how excited she is to see what further changes are coming.

“It’s coming, women and girls, it’s coming! Enjoy it. And have a drink.”

Yes it is! And I’m ready for it – ready to do my part making it happen. Are you?

Source: Carpetbagger

Film and TV are Failing Women

Jane Fonda founded the Women's Media CenterCan you believe that women are still underrepresented in the film and TV industries? Well, I suppose I can believe it – but I wish I didn’t have to.

But unfortunately, we have solid proof of this sad truth, thanks to a recent report from the Women’s Media Center, which was founded by Jane Fonda, Robin Morgan, and Gloria Steinem. The report summarized research conducted at USC and San Diego State, among others, and declared that “the American media have exceedingly more distance to travel on the road to gender-blind parity.”

Here are some scary stats to wrap your head around:

  • Women represented only 28.8 percent of speaking characters in the top-grossing films in 2012
  • Only six percent of those top 100 films in 2012 hired a balanced cast of women and men
  • Women accounted for a mere 16 percent of all directors, executive producers, producers, writers, cinematographers and editors, in terms of the 250 top US films in 2013
  • And looking at a two-month snapshot in 2013, men wrote 82 percent of all film reviews

The Center’s President Julie Burton has some strong feelings about this.

“The media is failing women across the board,” she says.

And I couldn’t agree more. That’s precisely why I am a film producer myself – why I am taking charge and telling stories of strong women – why I am trying to blaze the trail for more women like me to step up into the spotlight (in front of or behind the camera) and help change these statistics.

So c’mon all you Tough Cookies out there! Let’s get to it! By the time the next report comes out, I want to see these numbers significantly improved.

You hear that, (film & TV) world? We’re coming for you!

Source: Hollywood Reporter