I loved reading the various opinions and analyses on the year that just ended. For example, the Guardian called 2014 the watershed year for feminism because of the power of social media. Yes, it was true that social media gave us the chance to see graphic images of domestic violence from NFL players and to hear about rape on college campuses. The behaviors are not new but what is new is the way we hear about and experience despicable behavior.
Then all the buzz and the numerous articles that proclaimed that women entrepreneurs fared well in 2014 and received more funding than in the past. While this looks good at face value, when you delve deeper into the data you can see that the data has been manipulated to paint a rosier picture. Many firms are reporting suspect data. For example, a prominent vc reports that it has funded “a female founded company” when only one member of a 6 person founding team is a female. While funding a company with a woman on the founding team is better than not funding the company, it should be given a weighted credit. Funding a founding team where women represent less than 17% of the owners/decision makers is not what equality is about. Female founded companies are generally defined as companies where women comprise anywhere from all to the majority of the owners, decision makers and executive team. Take for example the companies—Rent the Runway, Birchbox and TheSkimm. These are female founded companies that truly represent companies founded and run by women.
2014 was a year of bringing to light and showing to millions of people what is really going on—things the mainstream media doesn’t always cover. It is harder to hide from public scrutiny and individual and collective opinion. We saw it with Uber, the NFL and police brutality.
The challenge in 2014 was that social media made us aware. But there wasn’t an easy call to action. Any movement peters out when there is no leader and no concrete thing people can do to affect change. I predict that 2015 will be the year of action. Companies and movements will find their power. Plum Alley will also do more in 2015. We are working on a collective basis with several women leaders to give women and men a way to do something to reflect their values and to invest in women entrepreneurs. Very exciting indeed.