During his confirmation hearings for the Supreme Court, now-Chief Justice John Roberts said the court’s role was to “call balls and strikes” and not engage in judicial activism. Oddly, SCOTUS has been judicially hyper-active of late. In the past weeks yet another precedent, bolstered by many decades of case law, was unceremoniously overturned. Affirmative Action (AA) in the college admission process has been the law of the land since the early 1970s, and passed its first Supreme Court challenge in 1977. Sadly, it is no more.
Per the ruling, colleges may not consider the applicant’s race as relevant for admission. Colleges are, however, allowed to consider–and give preferential treatment to–relatives of alumni. What’s wrong with this picture? Coming from a background of privilege entitles you to be, well, entitled. Coming from a background of slavery entitles you to get to the back of the line. But, they say, the students of color who are negatively affected by the ruling are actually from the upper middle class, so they will have lots of other choices of colleges. That might be true, but, they will be excluded from entrance into the ruling class. And note that five of the six members of the SCOTUS majority went to law school at either Harvard or Yale. This includes Clarence Thomas, who admits he was the beneficiary of AA, and he’s apparently still bitter about it.
The good news is that gender was not included in the ruling. The other good news is that women now comprise more than half of almost all college admissions, and women receive more than half of all degrees granted. The peculiar thing about that is women are still grossly underrepresented in virtually all the real positions of power. I’d like to say I find that odd, but the sad fact is that it makes all too much sense given the circumstances of this country.
Discussion Of Boys and Men by Richard Reeves
To segue, in my last post I promised to discuss a book I was reading, called Of Boys and Men, by Richard Reeves. It’s a shortish book, less than two hundred pages. The first fifty or so are stats that demonstrate men are falling behind women in so many areas, academics being the most significant. The differential starts pretty much from the first day of school and runs through professional and graduate programs. Women, he says, have benefited enormously from government interventions. Men have not. This fact is supposed to make us feel sorry for men. We need, Reeves says, programs to help men.
However, there’s a peculiar twist to this story. The data presented pretty clearly demonstrates that women and girls have benefited from government programs designed to bolster their academic performance. At the same time, the performance of men and boys has fallen. But the programs did not create barriers that stymie men and boys; they are operating under pretty much the same conditions that they always have, but now men are now finding it difficult to compete.
Reeves uses this as evidence that men need help, too. Using the data Reeves has provided, I draw a different conclusion. The only change is that they have to compete on a level playing field with women for the first time in, well, forever. Now that the field is not tilted to men’s advantage, they are unable to compete.
Let me repeat that: now that men and women, or boys and girls are competing on a level playing field, men cannot keep up.
As for policy, Reeves is a Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institute, so he has a position of influence if not of actual power. However, much of the message of the book fits too well with a broader movement that wants to “save” masculinity, whatever that means and however defined. At root this movement seeks to play the victim of the forces of modernization. In the end, the adherents simply refuse to face reality. To his credit, Reeves acknowledges this. He talks about programs that help men or women equally, such as a scholarship program open to graduates of any high school in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Women have embraced this enthusiastically, while men seem reluctant to take advantage of the opportunity.
At the end of the book, Reeves redeems himself by offering positive advice. He advocates that more men consider what he calls HEAL careers, an acronym he coined. Just as women are now moving into STEM programs traditionally dominated by men, men now need to consider careers in Health, Education, Administration, and Literacy. Men are often uninterested in considering these careers since they are lower-paying jobs traditionally dominated by women. This creates the dual social stigma of “not being a man” and of not being the primary breadwinner. Unfortunately, those high-paying manufacturing jobs that only required a high school diploma aren’t coming back anytime soon, while the HEAL professions are major drivers of job creation. To be clear, resources are already available to men and boys, so additional funding is probably not the most effective means of addressing the situation.
And now, on to this week’s feminist giving news briefs:
One: Capchase Provides $100 Million in Venture Capital for Women & Minority Start-ups
Capchase, the leading provider of financing solutions for Software-as-a-Service companies, today announced it has attained a major milestone in providing capital to start-ups founded by women and minorities. In the past two years, Capchase has allocated $100 Million to be used by these underserved groups.
Funding for founders who identify as a woman or as a person of color has always been disproportionately small. The problem is world-wide. During 2022 only 2% of total venture capital funding during 2022 went to women-founded startups in the US, and minority-founded companies only received 1.8% of total funding. In Europe women-only teams received just 1% of total capital in 2022 and minority-founded startups raised 0.7%.
One beneficiary has been Alchemy Vision, a subscription e-learning platform for eye care teams. “As an immigrant, woman, and founder, it’s no secret funding can be more difficult to receive. Capchase understands deploying capital to diverse founders can create greater opportunities for individuals and innovation. The financing provided by Capchase allows our team at Alchemy Vision to focus on our mission of supporting patient care and practice growth, as well as my personal mission to teach, lead, and inspire the medical staff providing care in this noble profession.” –Flora Azucena, CEO and founder of Alchemy Vision.
Two: Fearless Fund Receives Multi-Million Dollar Follow-On Investment from Bank of America, Costco, and Mastercard
The Fearless Fund is a trailblazer dedicated to increasing the amount of Venture Capital available to businesses started and run by Women of Color. The Fund has received several multi-million dollar grants from Bank of America, Costco, and Mastercard to be used as follow-on capital. The investments received will allow Fearless Fund to further expand their portfolio of women of color-founded and co-founded companies and provide adequate funding and mentorship opportunities.
Launched in 2019, Fearless Fund invests in WOC-led businesses seeking start-up and maintenance financing. Its mission is to bridge the gap in venture capital funding for female founders of color building scalable, growth-aggressive companies.
“To receive follow-on investments from our previous investors proves that Bank of America, Costco, and Mastercard are not only dedicated to addressing the disparity that exists in venture capital funding for women of color-led businesses, but it shows their commitment, values, and understanding that investing in WOC founders is good business.” –Arian Simone, Co-Founder of the Fearless Fund
“Our mission at Bank of America is to help diverse entrepreneurs drive economic opportunity. We are proud to continue our partnership with the Fearless Fund: Arian, Ayana, and their team continue to demonstrate true dedication to supporting women of color-led businesses.” –Tram Nguyen, Global Head of Strategic and Sustainable Investments
To read the full press release:
Three: Visa Foundation Awards $1 Million To African Organizations
The Visa Foundation announced a $1 Million grant partnership with two African organizations engaged in advocating for the importance of building a network for women entrepreneurs across the continent. The funds are part of a $200 million, five-year commitment by Visa to supporting gender diverse and inclusive small-and-micro businesses (SMBs) worldwide.
The direct recipients of the grants are AfriLabs and Graça Machel Trust. AfriLabs is the largest and most diverse community of technology hubs, innovators, and entrepreneurs in Africa. Graça Machel Trust is a women-founded and -led Pan African nonprofit raising the profile of women’s economic empowerment and gender-lens investment on the continent.
According to the World Bank, while Africa boasts of the highest growth rate of female-run businesses in the world, women only receive one percent of funding from VCs. The combined $1 Million in funding will prioritize the growth of gender diverse and inclusive small and micro businesses (SMBs) in the region. Women business owners continue to face challenges that are unique to them—ranging from patriarchy, cultural norms and unconscious bias that impacts women’s ability to access markets, finance, technology and networks, problems exacerbated by the global pandemic.
AfriLabs will fund its RevUp Women Initiative which supports early-stage, women-led startups in Africa. The initiative entails capacity-building training and mentoring to 500 beneficiaries, and 10 business owners will be selected to receive a $10,000 investment each through the Catalytic Africa matching fund. “We are pleased with the Visa Foundation’s support for the initiative because it aligns with our inclusion strategy and sets the tone for our larger vision, part of which is to support 50,000 women-led enterprises by 2026.” –Anna Ekeledo, AfriLabs Executive Director
With its funding, Graça Machel Trust will grow its flagship enterprise development program ‘Women Creating Wealth’ in Uganda, Kenya, and South Africa to reach 100 women-led, small-to-medium sized businesses. “We are proud to partner with Visa Foundation to break down some of the structural barriers faced by women entrepreneurs in Africa.” — Melizsa Mugyenyi, CEO, Graça Machel Trust.
Link to the full story:
Four: She Loves Tech: The Global Startup Competition Registration is Open
She Loves Tech is the world’s largest startup competition for women and technology. She Loves Tech is a global platform committed to closing the funding gap for women entrepreneurs. Their mission is to identify and accelerate the best entrepreneurs and technology for transformative impact, and their aim is to unlock US $1 Billion for women-led businesses by 2030.
To enter the competition, the company must be an early-stage tech start-up that has passed the conceptual stage with a minimum viable product and have less than US $5 M of external funding. The company must also have a gender-lens focus, having at least one of the following gender-lens criteria:
- Female founder
- Majority female users
- Majority female customers
Phase 1 of the competition process, Screening and Preparation, has begun. The finals will be held in October of 2023. Those selected as finalists will have the opportunity to join the She Loves Tech Global Conference held in Singapore. The winner of the last competition in 2021 was a UK start-up called Cardmedic, which produces a mobile platform to facilitate communication between healthcare staff and patients.
Deadlines for applying for the competition vary by continent and country. Full entry rules, details of the competition, and past winners can be found at the link:
Five: Women Win introduces The Learning Playground
While funding is crucial to launch a gender-lens company, strategies for maintaining and sustaining the business are just as important. Women Win has launched a new hub– The Learning Playground– as a place where the organization can share what has been learned, its experiences and insights after 15 years of efforts to advance girls’ and women’s rights world-wide.
Women Win advance their objective through three main areas of work:
- GRLS focuses on achieving gender equity through sport and play;
- WIN-WIN Strategies aims to improve the economic empowerment in the supply chain;
- IGNITA works through innovative philanthropy to foster new, feminist, and decolonized funding.
Women Win takes a partnership approach to offer a range of solutions and services that continuously contribute to building a strong and resilient women’s and girls’ movement. Women Win supports all girls, women, non-binary people, and more intentionally those from minority and underrepresented communities such as black, indigenous, mestizas, people of color, and the LGBTQI+ community.
Click here to visit The Learning Playground
Follow this link to reach the Women Win website