LIISBETH DISPATCH #59

A feminist response to the gender gap in tech, LiisBeth’s February 2020 Feminist in Residence, a female-focused film fund and the 2020 Women’s March

Artwork by Tara Tomlinson

WHAT WE’RE THINKING ABOUT 

Twenty-two days into new decade—many of us have been taking this time to recover from the holiday season, reset, prioritize, and look at what’s missing in our work…and play. If you’ve resolved to consume less, work smarter, resist more, and pay more attention to your wellbeing, could sobriety be the new rebellion? On the tech front, there is good news: inclusive hiring practices are improving but is the dial moving?  Incubators and accelerators are terrific spaces to create and learn, but here’s a taste of what’s not getting addressed. There’re more women-focused capital funds than ever but are they missing the mark? What does fewer boots on the ground at #WomensMarch2020 mean?

Let’s make this a decade to be present and establish uncomfortable connections required to fuel systemic change. If we don’t, who will?

See you in the CommonsLiisBeth’s new FEMINIST ENTERPRISE SPACE for connecting, learning, organizing for change.

JANUARY STORY POLL & QUICKIE READER SURVEY: We are all in this together! Take action! We need just 4 minutes of your time to let us know what you think. What’s on your mind? How are we doing? What are we missing? What story themes are you most interested in seeing in 2020? We’re listening. Survey takes just 4 minutes, tops!

NEW FEATURES ON LIISBETH 

Dr. Sarah Saska of Feminuity / Photo supplied by Sarah Saska

TIME’S UP TECH 

Sarah Saska has a feminist fix for tech’s gaping gender hole–and it can help us build a better future.

DOWNLOADABLE PDF!

Feminuity’s Case for Intersectionality paper that considers why a “Gender-Only” approach to advance women in tech isn’t enough.

DON’T MOCK THESE COCKTAILS

A Toronto duo mixes up romance, business and a really great line of booze-free drinks that make you still feel like a grown up when you curiously choose to socialize sober!

Photo by Vanessa Lee on Unsplash

PROGRESS OR PINKWASHING? WHO BENEFITS FROM DIGITAL WOMEN-FOCUSED CAPITAL FUNDS?

Thumbs up for Barb Orser! She calls ’em as she sees them. And references LiisBeth as a “digitally enabled intervention that supports the growing feminist economy” in this new study. The paper suggests an immediate need for reporting standards, and enhanced transparency with respect to fund ownership structure, performance and impacts. Read the introduction and download the study (free!) here.

If you have had experiences trying to access financing from these funds, let us know what it was like! Tell us your story anonymously here.

PK’S VIEWPOINT

Photo by Hans-Peter Gauster on Unsplash

WHAT YOU WON’T LEARN IN AN ACCELERATOR

If we want to create a gender and eco-just inclusive world, we need to be able to grow sustainable social enterprises. Supporting startup co-operatives are part of the answer. But are incubators and accelerators up to the task? Are today’s startup ecosystems up to the task?

Rivera Sun, Feminist in Residence for February, 2020

FEBRUARY’S FEMINIST IN RESIDENCE–RIVERA SUN!

We are sooo pleased to announce that Rivera Sun will be our Feminist in Residence (FiR) during the month of February in the Feminist Enterprise Commons (FEC). Sun is a changemaker, a cultural creative, and the author of 12 books about protest. She is an advocate for nonviolence and social justice, and the editor of Nonviolence.news.

Sun’s topic of the month is this: “Should SHEOs Get Political? Ethical Activism for Business.” In the workshop, she will help us take a critical look at Mondragon, REI, Chick-fil-A’s LGBTQ struggles, and other case studies. Sun will also help us unpack the ethics of our economic clout in civic issues and discuss how we can weigh in without overpowering citizen voices.

The Feminist Enterprise Commons is LiisBeth’s new, non-Zuckerberg, online learning community for those who want to go deeper into their feminist learning, leadership and social changemaking journey.  To read more about the “why”, click here.

As the FiR in the FEC (we know that sounds weird, but also kind of fun), Sun will be posting discussion questions and downloadable reading material and tools for you to keep. She will also be hosting a ZOOM video workshop for those of you interested in learning more about the how to be an activist and a successful enterprise founder at the same time. If you would like to learn more about Sun, you can find her here or read about her in LiisBeth here. What will you learn? Solutionary ideas that will inspire you to step up to the challenges of our times.

CV Harquail was our FiR in January! We’ll tell you about March’s FiR in our February newsletter.

FEMINIST FREEBIE! 

Be the first to comment on one of this month’s LiisBeth features online and receive a FREE COPY of Rivera Sun’s new book, RISE AND RESIST! We will mail it right to your doorstep!

 

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LIISBETH FIELD NOTES

On Saturday, January 18th, we marched to support women in over 250 other Women’s March 2020 around the world in support of reproductive rights, plus gender and eco-justice.

YES! THERE WAS A TORONTO’S WOMEN’S MARCH 2020 (Click image for 2.5 minute video!)

NPR reports that Washington DC’s 2020 Women’s March drew a smaller but passionate crowd. Toronto drew an even smaller crowd. But no less passionate. If you missed the march last Saturday, this is your chance to still experience being there–in a blizzard–virtually! Next year, expect something different on Women’s March day. The U.S. election will be over and there will be plenty to say. #wecantkeepquiet

CONGRATULATIONS ABIGAIL SLATER FOR REPRESENTING CANADA IN THE JUST RELEASED 2018-2019 GLOBAL ENTREPRENEURSHIP MONITOR (GEM) REPORT!

Abigail is a ex-officio LiisBeth advisory board member! So we are super proud of her! To read the report, click here.

Thre are a lot of noteworthy recommendations in this year’s report including a call to address stereotypes of who entrepreneurs are and what entrepreneurship is. The report states “From an economic development perspective, expanding societal views to embrace a more inclusive vision of entrepreneurship is a critical action that can be supported by all ecosystem participants. The GEM Global Report for this year focused on a theme of ‘entrepreneurship of all kinds’ which embraces women entrepreneurs. This inclusive approach is more beneficial and far-reaching than a continued emphasis on past models.”

MEET TARA TOMLINSON-FEMINIST ARTIST

This month’s LiisBeth newsletter cover art was created by Tara Tomlinson, founder of Deprogramme, a startup, art based enterprise focused on the creation of educational, political and Black centered art pieces. Deprogramme conducts multifaceted expressions of art, through different mediums. They specialize in digital art poster prints, acrylic canvas commissions and line art tattoo designs. You can find more of Tomlinson’s work on Instagram.

Photo by: Toyrific Garden Games

HOW MANY VENTURE FUNDS IN CANADA DECIDED TO CHALLENGE THE GENDER BAR?

The U.S. based Billion Dollar Fund for Women consortium was created in 2018 to mobilize capital that would invest in women-founded companies within the next decade. By June 2019, it had met its target. A total of over 70 funds from six continents and over 25 countries have so far pledged to deploy capital towards women-founded companies by 2020, equating to a total of $1 billion. Today, they have re-branded as the Beyond The Billion Fund. They want to go further still.

It’s a great initiative and given the times, not surprising they met their goal so quickly.

But before we get too excited, it’s important to note the bar that was set was a low one, considering the total investment dollars run by funds across the globe. The initiative requires funds to sign a pledge. There is no repercussion should the fund not meet the goal. The “we the good” halo effect lives on whether it happens or not.

So, with only a pledge at stake, and timely reputational value to reap,  how many Canadian funds do you think signed up?

When the TBDF for women launched in Canada, it was able to secure eight pledges. Today, a year later, with efforts by its Canadian sponsors Lally Rementilla (Quantius) and Jonathan Hera (Marigold Capital), it has 16. Nice improvement. The catch is, there are over 150 venture funds in Canada. 

Hard to believe the percentage of funds participating remains so low. We hope the rest will sign on soon.

In the meantime, give it up for the good ones: Alate PartnersBCG VenturesCycle CapitalEcofuelDisruption VenturesDream Maker VenturesGrand Challenges CanadaInvestissement QuebecLoyal VCMarigold CapitalMaRS Catalyst FundMedteqPique VenturesQuantiusREDDS Capital and StandUp Ventures.

If you are looking for venture capital, make sure to check them out!

Effie T. Brown / Photo courtesy of Gamechanger 

FEMALE-FOCUSED FILM FUND

Known for her producing work on socially and culturally-minded projects like Dear White People and Real Women Have Curves, Effie T. Brown has been a game-changing advocate for inclusivity in the industry. That said, the veteran producer is bringing her work to the next level as she has been named the CEO of Gamechanger.

Launched in 2013, Gamechanger is the first film financing fund by and for women. Brown will bring her expertise to help broaden the fund’s scope to include projects by and about people of color, LGBTQ+ and people with disabilities. In addition to films, Gamechanger is set to expand its reach to television and digital content with a new, fully monetized development fund that will enable it to buy, option and develop IP for television, streaming and digital platforms.

“As a black female producer who’s been in the business for over 20 years, I know how hard it is to not only get into the room but to then secure financing when you have a culturally diverse or gender specific point of view,” said Brown. “I am beyond thrilled to join Gamechanger as CEO and help level the playing field by providing equity financing for production, development monies as well as strategic partnerships for people with disabilities, LGBTQ+, women, and people of color. What also makes us different is that the diversity of our content is as diverse as our investor pool. Our investors understand that it is going to take all of us pooling our monies together to ensure that these inclusive voices are given the opportunity to own their story from script to screen.” (Source: Deadline)

Based on research on the psychology of leadership, Dr. Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic shows that if leaders were selected on competence rather than confidence, humility rather than charisma, and integrity rather than narcissism, we would not just end up with more competent leaders, but also more women leaders. In fact, he argues, the main obstacle preventing competent women from becoming leaders is the lack of career obstacles for incompetent, patriarchal men.

WHY DO SO MANY INCOMPETENT MEN BECOME LEADERS?  WORTH WATCHING.

Based on research on the psychology of leadership, Dr. Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic shows that if leaders were selected on competence rather than confidence, humility rather than charisma, and integrity rather than narcissism, we would not just end up with more competent leaders, but also more women leaders. In fact, he argues, the main obstacle preventing competent women from becoming leaders is the lack of career obstacles for incompetent, patriarchal men.

WHAT WE’RE READING 

On her first book tour at the age of 26, Lee Maracle was asked a question from the audience, one she couldn’t possibly answer at that moment. But she has been thinking about it ever since. As time has passed, she has been asked countless similar questions, all of them too big to answer, but not too large to contemplate. These questions, which touch upon subjects such as citizenship, segregation, labour, law, prejudice and reconciliation (to name a few), are the heart of My Conversations with Canadians.

In prose essays that are both conversational and direct, Maracle seeks not to provide any answers to these questions she has lived with for so long. Rather, she thinks through each one using a multitude of experiences she’s had as a First Nations leader, a woman, a mother, and grandmother over the course of her life.

Lee Maracle’s My Conversations with Canadians presents a tour de force exploration into the writer’s own history and a reimagining of the future of our nation.

(Source: Bookhug Press)

The prescient, page-turning account of a journey in Silicon Valley: a defining memoir of our digital age

In her mid-twenties, at the height of tech industry idealism, Anna Wiener—stuck, broke, and looking for meaning in her work, like any good millennial–left a job in book publishing for the promise of the new digital economy. She moved from New York to San Francisco, where she landed at a big-data startup in the heart of the Silicon Valley bubble: a world of surreal extravagance, dubious success, and fresh-faced entrepreneurs hell-bent on domination, glory, and, of course, progress.

Part coming-age-story, part portrait of an already-bygone era, Anna Wiener’s memoir is a rare first-person glimpse into high-flying, reckless startup culture at a time of unchecked ambition, unregulated surveillance, wild fortune, and accelerating political power.

“A definitive document of a world in transition: I won’t be alone in returning to Uncanny Valley for clarity and consolation for many years to come.” —Jia Tolentino, author of Trick Mirror: Reflections on Self-Delusion

(Source: MCDbooks)

AND FINALLY . . . IN CASE YOU MISSED IT!

  • Black Light is a weekly column by Governor General Award-winning writer Amanda Parris that spotlights, champions and challenges art and popular culture that is created by Black people and/or centres Black people. Parris writes: “The work created by Black artists often goes undocumented. It’s a consistent and systemic problem in Canada — one that’s created a cultural amnesia that renders Black art and Black artists invisible. Black Light is a small attempt to rectify this issue.” She has curated a list of some of the most exciting projects created by Black artists that will be arriving in 2020 and the first roundup  includes visual art exhibitions, plays, a new novel, an installation, a couple of films and new sci-fi series.
  • A new year brings with it new funds for women-led businesses. Before you apply, do your due diligence and check out Barb Orser’s study. “The Scotiabank Women Initiative can help women-led businesses access the tools they need – from financing to having the right financial knowledge and support to be successful.” – Gillian Riley, President and CEO, Tangerine Bank and executive sponsor of The Scotiabank Women Initiative. In December 2019, Scotiabank announced the expansion of The Scotiabank Women Initiative to its capital markets business – Global Banking and Markets. Check out the full press release about the initiative.
  • Applications for Venture Out’s Founders Program closes February 11, 2020. Venture Out is seeking 8-10 LGBTQA+ founders that want to engage, with a community of advisors, investors, incubator partners, and experts over a 6-week program. This program will run between March 3 to April 7, 2020. Most importantly, passionate founders that understand this is a pilot and to provide feedback to strengthen the LGBTQA+ tech ecosystem in Canada.
  • The Big Push is a TD Bank initiative founded by an all-women team who is investing in women-led companies that have the potential to become the next global tech leadersThe Lift-Off Program is an innovative funding and expert resource program designed to provide early stage women-led technology companies with access to free consultation and assessment of their business plans along with a clear roadmap that connects them to a network of highly vetted business and technology professionals.
  • BDC’s 2020 economic outlook reports that Canadian entrepreneurs should benefit from a rebound in the real estate market, residential investment and household consumption.
  • Noteworthy from November: Toronto-based Knix Wear has reached over $5M in VC funding with little institutional funding to date. In 2013, the e-commerce startup raised more than $1M through a crowdfunding campaign that saw investment from angel investors and small funds to fund her first line of Knix seamless underwear, which uses patented, leak-resistant, and odour-eradicating technology. Full story on Betakit.com 
  • Flashback fact: How old are successful tech entrepreneurs? A 2018 study from Kellogg’s School of Management at Northwestern University reveals the answer…and it’s likely not what you think.

That’s a wrap for Dispatch #59! 

So we wrote about the fragility of intesectional feminist media in December. And soon after, we heard about the closing of GUTS, a promising, smart, fiction-based, feminist online Canadian publication fueled by grants and donations, locked its doors after five years. We supported them each month for over two years. We also subscribe to HerizonThisMs Magazine, The DiscourseBitch, plus several other small, online blogs in various ways.

Feminist media matters.  Building a sustainable media enterprise of any kind these days is a challenge. Events of late have us thinking harder about how to structure LiisBeth so that we have the best possible chance of achieving our goal to create a sustainable, impactful, feminist media voice in Canada. We will keep you posted!

Remember also that we would love to hear from you so consider taking 4 minutes to complete our survey.

The next newsletter is scheduled for release the third week of February (yes AFTER VDay).  Or, see you sooner in the Feminist Enterprise Commons!

With gratitude and heartfelt thanks for your continued readership, engagement and support.

Peace out. Stay warm. xoxo

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