Tatiana Serafin

Table Talk – Female astronauts; Silicon Valley shut out; et al

I first heard of the four female astronauts in space in a Tina Fey monologue on SNL two weeks ago. Fey said something like ‘if you told anyone in the 70s about four female astronauts in space it would be in reference to a porno, but today it doesn’t even make news’. I didn’t know what she was talking about, was it a joke? So I checked. And it is true. According to a piece in a UK paper, it is “a record for the most women in space” nearly fifty years after “the Soviet Union put the first woman into orbit.” So why aren’t we talking about it? I ran it by a couple of girlfriends who also had not heard the news. Ok so Iceland has a volcano, China an earthquake, Poland a tragic air crash. But this is history here…or do we still only tell history from a male point of view?

Then I read, “Out of the Loop in Silicon Valley: In the Wide-Open World of Tech, Why So Few Women?” by a former colleague of mine Claire Cain Miller (we overlapped at Forbes magazine) and I started fuming. She starts with this story which I have to share again because it is so telling: ” CANDACE FLEMING’S résumé boasts a double major in industrial engineering and English from Stanford, an M.B.A. from Harvard, a management position at Hewlett-Packard and experience as president of a small software company. But when she was raising money for Crimson Hexagon, a start-up company she co-founded in 2007, she recalls one venture capitalist telling her that it didn’t matter that she didn’t have business cards, because all they would say was “Mom.” Another potential backer invited her for a weekend yachting excursion by showing her a picture of himself on the boat — without clothes. When a third financier discovered that her husband was also a biking enthusiast, she says, he spent more time asking if riding affected her husband’s reproductive capabilities than he did focusing on her business plan. Ultimately, none of the 30 venture firms she pitched financed her company. She finally raised $1.8 million in March 2008 from angel investors including Golden Seeds, a fund that emphasizes investing in start-ups led by women.

Is this the world in which I am raising a daughter? It is supposed to be better than this. So I found Parenting’s “5 Skills Every Kid Needs” to be helpful because it still is an imperfect world.

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