By Leanne Pittsford (Founder & CEO, StartSomewhere & Board Member, StartOut)
If you’re in the Bay Area, I hope you’ll join me January 24, 2012 at 6pm for a screening of Miss Representation benefiting StartOut’s Lesbian Entrepreneurship Mentoring Program.

Did you know: Women comprise over half the U.S. population, hold 51% of U.S. wealth and have 83% of purchasing power but only comprise 3% of leadership positions in media, 3% of Fortune 500 CEOs and women’s representation in politics is abysmal (we’re 90th in the world). Worldwide, women do 66% of the world’s work and earn only 10% of the world’s income.

If this annoys you (or makes you angry), you’re not alone.

I decided to channel that feeling towards hosting a screening of Miss Representation, a film about the roots of this problem. I had seen the film several months ago and its impact stuck with me. As women in business, I believe all of us – and most men out there – need to see this film.

Miss Representation is a documentary by Jennifer Siebel Newsom, exposing how mainstream media contribute to the under-representation of women in positions of power and influence in America. As women, throughout childhood we’re told that girls play with Barbie dolls, and later that images of women sell cars and vodka and other products.

Where Miss Representation goes further is to measure the magnitude of that phenomenon, including the way objectification is internalized over time, keeping girls and women from realizing their full potential.

Beyond simply raising awareness, we need to take it further, into real actionable steps that women – and men – can take to drive change from the top. Immediately following the film, we’ll have a panel discussion of women leaders that asks the simple yet critical question – how can women at the top start driving change now?

The panel will feature:

  • California Assemblywoman Fiona Ma
  • Kate Kendell (Executive Director, National Center for Lesbian Rights)
  • Jane Goldman (Founder, & Vice President, CBS Interactive)
  • Kathy Levinson (Managing Director, Golden Seeds & Co-Chair of Obama’s LGBT National Finance Committee & Former President & COO, E*TRADE & Founder, Lesbian Equity Foundation)

The panel will be led by Amanda Keton, Director of Legal and Policy Programs at The Advocacy Fund.

The event will raise funds and awareness for StartOut’s new Lesbian Entrepreneurship Mentoring Program.

StartOut is an organization dedicated to fostering and developing LGBT entrepreneurship. I joined the board of StartOut because I believe that empowering LGBT entrepreneurs is critical in our fight towards acceptance and equality, and that we have a responsibility as women to speak up for other marginalized groups in business. If you’re interested in the mentoring program or getting more involved with StartOut, please email me at

If you’re in San Francisco, join me January 24, 2012 at 6pm at the Victoria Theater for this event:

Screening of Miss Representation (followed by panel of women leaders)
Tuesday, January 24, 2012, 6pm – 9pm
Victoria Theater, 16th and Mission
San Francisco
To purchase tickets, click here.

If you’re elsewhere, visit the Miss Representation website to find a screening near you.

Not sure the issues in Miss Representation are real? Here’s a fun game: take a second and think: when’s the last time you saw a movie that –

  1. Has more than two female characters?
  2. They talk to each other?
  3. about something other than a man?

Editor’s note: Got a question for our guest blogger? Leave a message in the comments below.
Leanne Pittsford is the Founder and CEO of StartSomewhere. She is also a Board Member of StartOut. Leanne is an investor and advisor to Solar Network Solutions, a woman-owned solar tech startup. Prior to founding Start Somewhere, Leanne was a Director at Equality California, the largest statewide LGBT organization in the country. She lives San Francisco and Chicago with her partner and their dachshunds Sauce and Magoo. Find her on Twitter at @lepitts.