2019 was a particularly great year for film, as the Rotten Tomatoes official list was published just a few weeks ago. To much joy, many female directed projects sat atop the tomatoes. Booksmart, The Farewell, and Knock Down the House were just some of many female-directed movies this year employing much praise from critics. There is one other movie however making headway that I would wish to address- this being Greta Gerwig’s second directorial project and six-time Oscar nominated Little Women.
This is not the first time the Louisa May Alcott classic has been adapted to the silver screen; five other films of the novel were forged before the release of Gerwig’s rendition in December of 2019. Though some (yet not many) viewed another rendition of the beloved novel unnecessary and outdated for our modern age, Gerwig found contrary to such a notion. In a recent 92nd Street Y interview, Gerwig explained “I hadn’t read the book since I was 15 and picked it up again when I was 30. I couldn’t believe it- it was so much stranger, urgent and more modern than I had remembered.” Little Women does, and has done so successfully for more than a century and a half, is reiterate that roles for women in our ‘ever-changing’ society have remained seemingly unchanged. Yes, things have gotten much better from the days of nuclear wives and the lack of women’s suffrage, of course, but the fact still remains- women are still receiving only 49 cents to a man’s dollar in the workplace in 2019. There’s still a hangover in the rhetoric of grandmothers across the USA reminding their granddaughters to ‘marry for money and not for love,’ and even mockery of the profoundly important #MeToo movement coming out of the film industry represents a story that is inherently a reality of being a woman in America.
What Greta Gerwig has done in Little Women is instill a commonality that one can overcome such hardship and succeed in this world. Through our historical pasts, one watches the film not with a sense disdain for how our society has evolved, but more so with a confidence that so much can still be achieved. Little Women is a breath of fresh air and has been retold with modern gist and new life in Gerwig’s ode to a cherished classic of American literature.
Male leads still dominate Hollywood box offices and award shows, as this year’s Golden Globe Awards showed us. Not a single female was nominated for Best Director at the ceremony this year. Which, is almost the perfect irony for Little Women. Regardless of the Hollywood Foreign Press’ reasoning, Gerwig remains poised and exact knowing the future of cinema is inherently female, and will continue to be as more young women see and read Beth, Amy, Meg and Jo March discover the world and their places within it. And as for Gerwig and here continued success in cinema, she softly reminds “Men have been putting glasses on hot women [in film and television] and saying they’re awkward, so I can do whatever I want.”
As the new decade rapidly approaches, tech continues to be an industry disrupting the social conformities of our modern times. However, the growing acceptance of women-led companies is still being adopted slower than one may believe. Only a mere 2.2% of investment money for tech startups funds women-led organizations. As a collective conscious, recognizing the marginalization of women’s abilities in the workforce is of the utmost importance. Regardless of such percentages, many women in the industry have achieved wonderful success, remaining pillars of hope for individuals looking to redefine societal expectations for women in and out of the industry. Here is a brief list of 5 women-led tech companies paving the way for others in 2020:
CEO Star Cunningham has dealt with chronic illness since she was young. 4D Healthware, under Star’s vision, aims to humanize the health industry. Her time at IBM made her implement the use of data in patient care, optimizing the time and care each individual receives within the platform.
Coming out of the MIT Media Lab at the end of 2009, Affective tackles three different categories; Automotive AI, Media Analytics, and In Lab Biometric Solutions. From Market Research, social robotics, to human behavioral research, co-founders Rana el Kaliouby and Rosalind Picard are shaping the way we think, interact, and communicate using state-of-the-art tech developed by movers and shakers across the world.
In a Nation plagued with gun violence and a constant fear of domestic terrorism, Astral AR has created detection of bombs and weapons of any type of build or design. Co-founder Leah La Salla has helped lead Astral AR into working closely with law enforcement, school districts, and general public places and check-ins with the goal of creating safer and more secure lives for all individuals; the catch? Atsral AR does this all without discrimination as the backbone of its software.
Wastewater epidemiology- though not known by all, plays a vital role in the public health of individuals globally. Co-founders Marian Matus and Newsha Ghaeli have created a company that collects samples of wastewater amongst cities and determines a percentage of narcotics and their societal impact on the given geographical area.
Diversity hiring is more important than ever in an expanding world, and tech made to ease the process has proved to be dangerously discriminatory. Founder Stephanie Lampkin however, created a three step hiring system within Blendoor that involves anonymous selection of candidates within the software; only qualifications and passions are to be considered. By doing this, Blendoor gives companies the best candidate for the job without the biased given based on sudden appearances.
Want to learn more about women in tech? Visit @SWSiliconValley on Instagram to keep up-to-date on Menlo College’s Startup Weekend, starting March 27th!