This article was was originally posted on January 22, 2017, in Venture Valkyrie.
“There will never be a new world order until women are a part of it.”
It has been, not just for me but for many, national women’s month. Maybe it’s not officially proclaimed as such, but it has just worked out that way.
It started for me the second week of January at the JP Morgan Healthcare Conference. What has been notable about this conference in past years is the absence of women. I even wrote about this in 2011 in a post called, “Alas, No Line for the Ladies Room,” in which I lamented the stunning absence of my sisters at what is arguably the most important healthcare business conference in the world. I recall noting that, back in 2011, attending JP Morganpalooza was like speed-dating but without the women in the equation, making it considerably less fun.
Suboptimal speed dating
There was a notorious event, hosted by LifeSci Advisors, at 2016’s JP Morgan conference which seems to have had the unintended consequence of waking the sleeping giantess. The firm hired a bunch of female models to entertain mostly male guests and blocked many women from attending. They were pilloried for it (I wrote about it HERE) and then massively apologized by pledging to get enlightened. Um, yeah.
But this year is apparently the year when the tide started to turn. I recall noting a sense of optimism last year, but this year, as I write this the day after the Women’s March that followed the 2016 election, I am hoping we are officially on an unstoppable pink train. Yes, it’s disturbing (to say the least) that the electorate has chosen people and policies that are decidedly anti-female. But this time, it provoked a disturbance in The Force that has roared back 2.5 million strong and growing. Can it be a coincidence that the biggest box office hits so in recent weeks are a) Rogue One, where a badass young woman leads the effort that results in the overthrow of the evil empire? and b) Hidden Figures, a movie which honors the work of three young black female scientists, programmers and engineers at NASA without whom the space program may not have succeeded as it did.
As I watched the Women’s March from the sidewalk and from the TV screen yesterday, I couldn’t help but think that this women thing is for real and finally so. Even at JP Morgan, the tide seems to have turned. While in past years there was an event or two targeted to the dribble of women who attended the conference, this year there were at least 8 events that I personally heard of that were women-only and overflowing. Silicon Valley Bank, Deloitte, Canaan Partners, Wilson Sonsini, Women Business Leaders, Springboard, Square One Bank, GE Ventures and many others led events that were exclusively or primarily aimed at giving women a chance to celebrate their successes and network with each other. This is a massive upgrade over prior years and speaks to the number of women who showed up to do serious business at the conference this year. It was hard to miss the trend when in many other years it was hard to miss the oversight. A great thing. (more…)