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Women in the News + A Year of Startup Success & Women's Self-Advocacy

December 30: Badass women and the news that affects them

Mitra Norowzi

Image courtesy of vectorlab

Company Culture

  • In a not-so-subtle swipe at Facebook, Spotify (3.5 stars) has announced it will indefinitely suspend political advertisements because it can’t sufficiently vet them. The streaming giant joins Google, Youtube, Snapchat, and Twitter as a company to change its policy regarding political ads since Facebook’s controversial decision not to vet them this fall. VICE

  • As a company, Microsoft (3.4 stars) generally doesn’t embody the same splashy reputation for employee activism as other giants in the tech world such as Google or Amazon. But 2019 was the year in which Microsoft employees demanded to be heard, organizing around issues of internal harassment, political spending, and ties to unsavory entities like ICE. OneZero

  • Amazon (3.0 stars) has filed for a patent for a touchless scanning system that would identify people by the visual and biological characteristics of their hands. Presumably, this technology would be developed for use in the company’s Amazon Go stores, which already utilize a combination of sensors and cameras to allow customers to remove items from store shelves and walk out of the store and automatically be billed for them. However, Amazon bulldozing ahead to pioneer biometric identification for retail could raise privacy concerns that are especially relevant given the company’s history of hacks to Alexa and Ring home security tech. Recode

  • In 2019, there were 21 startups founded or co-founded by women that became “unicorns”—meaning they reached $1 billion in valuation. This is up from 15 woman-founded unicorns in 2018 and just eight in 2017. Crunchbase

Quick Hits

  • In this must-read op-ed for the The Washington Post, Cyntoia Brown-Long, who served 15 years in prison for the death of her trafficker before being granted clemency by a Tennessee judge, passionately advocates for other young women who face life sentences, as she once did, for killing the men who trafficked them. One such young woman is Chrystul Kizer, who was charged with first-degree intentional homicide last week for allegedly killing the man who sexually abused her. The Washington Post

  • But Brown-Long isn’t the only woman using her platform to stand up for others. Here’s a list of eight other stories of women advocating for others in 2019 compiled by NPR, including Lynsey Addario, a photojournalist who covered maternal mortality; Fatou Jallow, a Gambian beauty queen who sparked a #MeToo movement in her country; and Gulalai Ismail, a Pakistani activist who protested the Pakistani government’s extrajudical killings and sexual violence, among others. NPR

  • According to a recent study, as many as 79 percent of mayors in the U.S. report being the victim of harassment, threats, or other psychological abuse. What’s worse, women mayors face twice the risk for psychological abuse compared to men and three times the risk for physical abuse. NY Times

  • Halima Aden, a Somali-American model who made headlines in 2016 when she became the first Miss Minnesota contestant to compete in a hijab, has become the first black woman in a hijab to be featured on the cover of Essence magazine. You can find her on the publication’s January 2020 issue. HuffPost 

Around the World

  • China: After being barred from freezing her eggs, Teresa Xu is suing a Chinese clinic and is seeking to challenge the Chinese law that denies reproductive rights to single women. NY Times 

  • Northern Ireland: Mothers in Northern Ireland are taking to the fields to regain their love for Gaelic football, an ancient sport revived in the 19th and 20th centuries in spite of colonial erasure. BBC

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