During a recent investors event in NYC, the CEO of healthcare startup Kanteron Systems, Jorge Cortell decided to call out a group of women he’d spotted at the event who were wearing heels, thus creating a brand new type of shaming–stiletto shaming. Then he offered up this “creepshot” with the hashtag #BrainsNotRequired.
According to Jorge, high heels are just plain awful–from affecting your health to affecting your IQ, heels need not exist in the corporate world. What Jorge doesn’t seem to understand is that it’s not up to him to police what business women can wear. What he also doesn’t know is the heels make a woman feel powerful. Our legs are longer, our stride is sexier and our posture is more poised. All of these things add up to create a higher level of self-confidence.
Some of the most powerful women I know wear nothing but heels in the workplace. While I’m not the biggest fan of teetering on heels (mostly because I have a hard time walking in them), I can admit that when I complete my outfit with a pair of heels, I feel more confident.
Many people who saw the tweet immediately called Jorge out for being sexist. Jorge’s defense was that heels=dumb.
While Jorge is certainly entitled to his opinion, I think it’s ignorant to assume that women who wear heels aren’t smart or deserving to share space with venture capitalists and entrepreneurs. According to The Atlantic, the issue here is their place at a tech demo—an event that finds participants rewarded, ostensibly, on the strength of their ideas and execution, rather than their style. Jorge took it upon himself to focus on the style and stereotype said style in a way thatwas completely one-sided and pig-headed.
We all know the tech industry is a boy’s club, but Jorge is shining a light on similarities in the tech world. Former SendGrid Developer Evangelist, Adria Richards was let go from her techie job because she decided to speak up against fellow developers who were sitting behind her at PyCon, making crude jokes about “big dongles.” Jorge’s comments haven’t gotten him nor anyone else fired, but they have perpetuated a theme that seems to be on-going in business–women being judged on a completely different and unfair standard than men.
Men get to do as they please, no matter what. No one says anything when Facebook co-founder, Mark Zuckerberg shows up to million dollar meetings wearing a hoodie and jeans, but if a woman shows up to a conference in sky-high heels she deserves to be the subject of social media ridicule by a chauvinistic pig. And then someone like Adria loses her job when she’s only trying to shine light on the misogyny in the tech/business world using social media.
And here’s the double standard. Imagine a woman like Ursula Burns choosing to wear something as simple as sneakers, a T-shirt and jeans all while trying to be accepted as a strong business woman. You can’t see it, right? That’s because women are held at higher standard when it comes to our image and our success.
It’s not like we’ve never seen successful business women before. Women like Marissa Mayer, Oprah and Sheryl Sandberg have all made big names for themselves in business and during many of their most powerful moments, have worn heels.
Would Jorge have been less offended if the woman in the photo was wearing a suit? Or a pair of Keds? What does Jorge expect powerful women to look like? Rocking flats, flip flops and such? Perhaps we need to add another element to the “having it all” talk–to heel or not to heel?
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15 Of The Most Powerful Women To Follow On Twitter
1. 15 Powerful Women To Follow On Twitter
Social media has completely taken over our lives. I've always had a personal opposition against social media, often times claiming that it makes us even more unsocial. However, there is a lot of good in social media that one has to learn how to use for their advantage. The best way to take advantage of social media is to cultivate who you follow. Make sure that who you follow is applicable to your life as well as entertaining. Check out this list of 15 powerful women to follow on Twitter.
2. Erykah Badu
There's just something about Erykah that is beyond hypnotizing. Her tweets bring you into her world of being an artist and a doula. Yes, Erykah tweets about the babies she helps deliver. @fatbellybella
3. Gayle King
Besides being Oprah's best friend, Gayle King is known for being a CBS This Morning cohost and Editor-at-Large for O Magazine. Her take on the entertainment industry is often funny and exclusive! @GayleKing
This woman needs no explaining. Just follow her. @oprah
5. Michelle Obama
Obviously, following the first lady is the first thing you should do on Twitter. Under her new account @FLOTUS, not every tweet is hers, but when you see it signed in "mo, you can guarantee that the first lady is reaching out to you directly. @FLOTUS
6. Christiane Amanpour
As one of the most iconic TV journalists, Christiane Amanpour is a powerful Twitter user. She offers breaking news on global conflicts, and provides unique insights and perspectives to political happenings and world events. You don't even need to follow CNN if you're following Christiane. @camanpour
7. Soledad O'Brien
8. Chelsea Clinton
It helps that Chelsea Clinton is the famed offspring of Bill & Hillary Clinton. But she is also a tireless advocate for a healthy and safe world. As an NBC News Special Correspondent and active member of the Clinton Foundation, Chelsea has immeasurable insight of the world to share. @ChelseaClinton
9. Caterina Fake
Caterina Fake tweets about the latest digital news, technology and her own personal views, passions and interests. @Caterina
10. Zainab Salbi
Zainab Salbi is the founder of Women for Women International and served as the organization's CEO from 1993 to 2011. If you want news, stats and opinions on humanitarian crises, follow her. Oh and you can learn how you can contribute in making the world a better place. Who doesn't love that?! @ZainabSalbi
11. Robin Roberts
This "Good Morning America" news anchor is nothing short of amazing. With her inspirational story as a foundation, follow her entertaining tweets as she hobknobs with celebs and shares inspiring anecdotes from other cancer survivors. @RobinRoberts
12. Mary Grove
Mary Grove is the Director of Google for Entrepreneurs. With a passion for building her community, Mary is constantly tweeting about what's next in technology and business. @maryGrove
13. Maya Angelou
There's nothing but reverence in our hearts for Dr. Maya Angelou. Please follow this poet, educator, historian, best-selling author, actress, civil-rights activist, producer and director for tweets that are always worth retweeting. @DrMayaAngelou
14. Gabby Douglas
We've watched her kick major Olympic gymnast butt, but following Gabby Douglas is nothing like following an obnoxious teen who has more gold medals than you. It's just like following your little sister. Check out Gabby's adorable tweets! @gabrielledoug
15. Donna Brazile
You've definitely seen her byline before. Donna Brazile is a political strategist, contributor to CNN and ABC News, educator, author and more. Follow her tweets for absolutely everything a woman of color could ever care about. @donnabrazile
16. Shonda Rhimes
Other than creating one of the biggest shows to his Black Twitter since...well...anything Tyler Perry put out, Shonda Rhimes is one to follow on Twitter and in life! Her tweets are often inspirational and "Scandal"-related. @shondarhimes