The Jane Dough’s 50 Women Of The Year
1:05 pm, December 20th | by
The Jane Dough Staff
As we were putting this list together, we had to marvel at what an amazing year 2012 has been for women. We certainly felt it in the abundance of success stories and women we were able to profile this year, in the tenor of the November election and throughout pop culture. Hopefully 2013 will bring just as many rich and fascinating stories of women crushing it as this year did. To bid a proper goodbye to 2012, we put together a list of women who killed it in their respective industries, made waves in politics, and just generally did cool stuff. Take a look.
Kimberly Bryant was driven to start Black Girls Code in 2011, when she observed that children living in low income areas in Silicon Valley's backyard didn't have access to any sort of technical education.
By summer 2012 she had 700 enrollees in CODE workshops, learning programming languages that allowed them to build their own sites and video games. In the next two years she plans to double the cities in which the CODE workshops are available and add African-American boys into the mix. So cool.
We could probably have written a post calling 2012 "The Year Of Sandra Fluke" and not gotten very much criticism for it. Fluke played a
huge role in our election this year, forcing the media and the public to focus on women's issues to an absolutely unprecedented degree. Not only did she go from being called a "slut" by Rush Limbaugh to speaking at the Democratic National Convention, she had the kind of influence most people aren't able wield without first spending a bajillion dollars. That in itself is awesome, but we also must salute her for her poise in the face of it all.
What can possibly be said about Lena Dunham that hasn't been said already? How about this: girl got
this year. She also drove traffic for just about every website in the universe, maintained total creative control over her HBO sitcom, and paid tweeted a lot of funny things. Like her or not, that kind of success for a young woman ought to be celebrated.
Okay, so maybe we were getting trolled when
The Atlantic slapped Slaughter's piece, called "Why Women Still Can't Have It All," on their cover this summer. But the debate that it sparked was fascinating, with many arguing that Slaughter was dead right, many arguing she was dead wrong, and many other wondering if wanting to "have it all" was even something women should be chasing in the first place. For creating the opportunity to have the discussion, Slaughter deserves a spot on the list.
Kay Cannon, we will love you forever for putting the perfection that was
Pitch Perfect into our eyeballs this year. As we said of her in October, "this girl is going to be everywhere soon, and deservedly so. She's an improv comic who has performed with Second City and the Upright Citizens Brigade, she writes for New Girl, and she recently sold a pilot of her own to FOX. And girl's script is tight — no thread is dropped, every joke and theme cycles beautifully throughout the movie, and she uses every member of the ensemble to terrific effect. I died over this script — it might be my favorite thing about the movie. Well, the audition montage was pretty solid. And the finale. And the "Riff-Off." And, and and!
Jessica Valenti might already be familiar as a prominent feminist writer and activist, as well as a co-founder of
Feministing. This year, following the birth of her own daughter, Valenti wrote Why Have Kids?, a book unafraid to to ask the question "No really, what's the point?" The book "[explores] the reality that being a parent is often more nuanced — with less joy, and more ambivalence — than society would have us believe, and, ostensibly, [questions] why smart women would choose to have kids at all." For naming and drawing attention to the real ambivalence that many women (and men!) feel about having and raising children, Valenti deserves a spot on our list.
Have you seen a movie you liked in the past few years? Chances are Megan Ellison had something to do with it. The 26-year-old (!!!!) producer and head of Annapurna Pictures is the daughter of Oracle CEO Larry Ellison, and has become something of a modern-day patron of the arts in Hollywood. Annapurna Pictures's stable
includes The Master, Zero Dark Thirty, True Grit and the rights to the Terminator franchise. Going to be really tough not to make a "She'll be back" joke here. Oh whoops, we just did.
Delores Barr Weaver, former owner of the Jacksonville Jaguars, is a well-known philanthropist. But she deserves special mention this year for a $50 million donation she made to the Community Foundation in Jacksonville, Florida. Not only has this windfall led to the
establishment of a "$6.6 million grant, to be paid over three years, to establish the Delores Barr Weaver Policy Center, [which] will provide research, training, education and advocacy in support of the needs of girls in the juvenile justice system," it also places Weaver squarely in the ranks of the top 25 largest philanthropist donations in 2012.
9.The Women of Saturday Night Live
The women of
Saturday Night Live had a tough row to hoe this season — with the departure of Kristen Wiig there was every reason to believe the show might suffer after losing such a strong female performer. However, the team of Nasim Pedrad, Vanessa Bayer, Aidy Bryant, Cecily Strong and Kate McKinnon (not pictured) has been so dominant this year, we feel silly for having any doubts. It's enough to make you say, "Wait, there's a new male cast member this season? Where the f*ck has he been?"
Facebook could arguably be called the biggest company in the world, given that it's driven by the activity of its
— and the biggest company in the world also has several women occupying some of the top spots, like COO Sheryl Sandberg. Lest anyone think that Mark Zuckerberg is the only one getting a piece of the pie, Sandberg's stake in the company was valued at one billion users $1.8 billion at the time of Facebook's IPO this past May. Not bad.
How many other women do you know who went from working at an Olive Garden to running a successful celebrity gossip site in the space of one year? Natasha Eubanks did it with ease, founding
TheYBF.com in 2005, a site that now nets 15 million visitors per month. Not yet satisfied, she plans to build the brand even further. She told MediaBistro this year, "I want to make us that one-stop-shop household name. I know some people think we already are maybe with certain groups and people, but I want people to ask, 'where can I turn on my TV and go on the net and turn on the radio and physically go that the YBF brand will give me what I need?'"
Kirsten Powers is Jonah inside the whale — a liberal analyst on FOX News. Given her unique position, she's had to put up with a lot of nonsense from both sides, from rancor on the
left (including insulting jabs from Keith Olbermann) to opposition on the right — like when she called out a guest on Sean Hannity's show for saying giving women the right to vote was one of the worst decisions America had ever made. Regarding the Sandra Fluke controversy, she told us "while I agreed that Limbaugh’s outbursts were terrible and worthy of condemnation, this one issue paled in comparison to the epidemic of liberal media misogyny that is generally ignored by the people who were screaming for Limbaugh’s scalp...Unfortunately, the bulk of it is perpetrated by men on the left, something that liberals are going to have to face up to at some point. I’d like to write a book about this if I can ever find the time." We hope she does.
Amy Pascal is the co-chair of Sony Pictures Entertainment, the only studio headed by a woman
and one of the top-performing studios this year. From : "Pascal's slate of films has raked in more than $4 billion globally to date — a first — putting the studio at No. 1 in market share. The boom is led by The Hollywood Reporter Skyfall, which has grossed nearly $800 million worldwide (though Sony doesn't own the film and is distributing for MGM and Eon), and The Amazing Spider-Man ($752.2 million). Pascal also can take credit for launching two franchises in 21 Jump Street ($201.6 million)and Hotel Transylvania ($291.4 million to date)." We want to live in a world where Pascal and Megan Ellison team up to launch the biggest, coolest movie studio of all time. Maybe 2013 is that year?
Honestly, did you expect precocious style blogger Tavi Gevinson to have the kind of longevity she's enjoyed when she first appeared on the scene? The fashion devotee became an overnight sensation when she attended New York Fashion Week in
2009 at age 13, before going on to found the popular website Rookie (some of whose content was released in a book called Rookie Yearbook One, whose second installment is due out in September of 2013). All this before she could vote.
This girl is too cool. We'll let our brother site
Sportsgrid sum her up: "This is Sam Gordon. She plays (American) football in a boys’ youth league. Based on the raw numbers given (1,911 yards, 8.2 yards per carry, 35 scores), she plays very, very well in that league. But does the tape suggest the same sort of dominance? Well, not quite… because based on the highlight video below, Gordon is basically Gale Sayers." Also, the Wheaties box is a real thing. Coolest kid ever? Coolest kid ever.
Tracy Reese has been making gorgeous ready-to-wear clothing for women since
1998 (I remember Mindy Kaling extolling the virtues of her tights on her personal blog years ago), but she rose to national prominence this year when Michelle Obama wore one of her dresses to deliver her speech at the Democratic National Convention. What an amazing moment! Can you imagine?
Randi Zuckerberg should get some credit for being one of the first people on board to bring Silicon Valley to the small screen.
Start Ups: Silicon Valley on Bravo certainly ended with a whimper rather than a bang, the show's executive producer has her eye on a different prize — her new position on NBC's digital advisory board. Like it or not, Zuckerberg is going to be shaping the way media covers start ups for a while.
It's pretty safe to say that Kate Middleton is single-handedly keeping Great Britain's retail industry afloat, right? The second she wears something remotely affordable
it flies off the shelves. Now that the duchess is pregnant she's probably going to be in the market for some new clothes, and judging by the frenzy surrounding the mere announcement that she was with child, we're picturing some people tackling each other over an empire-waisted sundress in about six months or so (and then pulling each other's hair out over onesies in about ten).
19.Emily Gould and Ruth Curry
Amid all the haranguing about what the Internet and e-readers will do to the publishing industry, well-known lover of the internet Emily Gould teamed up with Ruth Curry in 2011 to create a book-selling business that would embrace the new world order. Part of their
mission statement: "One store currently sells a very large percentage of all ebooks, and that’s not cool. This is changing -- Kobo now partners with independent bookstores to sell ebooks -- which is great. We still think there should be many ways to sell ebooks as there are to sell physical books And we want authors, agents and publishers to get paid so they can continue creating and curating, because we know those things are important and that the people who do them deserve to be paid, even if some people think all creativity should be crowdsourced and given away for free." This year saw Emily Books's one-year anniversary, and the duo getting written up in as "publishing pioneers." Keep on keeping on, ladies. Paper and New York Magazine
Every time the media gets down on Jessica Simpson about her
weight, we feel compelled to start screaming "DOES EVERYONE KNOW THAT SHE'S A SECRET BILLIONAIRE?????" Because she is, and now basically every other celebrity in the world wants a deal similar to hers. So the next time you read a mean headline about Simpson housing some fried chicken at her friend's birthday party, picture her reading the same headline on a diamond-encrusted iPhone and snorting "Eat me."
Before Lena Dunham blasted her way into the cultural consciousness, there was Emma Koenig, author of blog-turned-book (which debuted this summer)
F*CK! I'm In My Twenties!, aiming to document the peculiar post-adolescent, pre-"real adult" phase that the 20s have become for so many young people. Her Tumblr features sweetly drawn comics depicting aspects of early adult life like dealing with "the pathological plan-breaker" and "the conversation that isn't happening between anti-millenials and millenials." Maybe in 2013 she'll team up with Dunham for an animated series? Dare to dream.
22.Erica Cerulo and Claire Mazur
Erica Cerulo and Claire Mazur founded Of A Kind in 2010 as an e-commerce site that "
cultivates new design talent through special product 'editions' and editorial content." This year, Mazur and Cerulo rolled out a major site redesign, and the site has appeared everywhere from Women's Health, to Stylecaster, to Nylon, to Mashable and, of course, on The Jane Dough!
Guys. We had to. Not only did the
Fifty Shades trilogy shatter every record in existence, selling 35 million copies in 2012, and making author E.L. James a frillion dollars, but it did more to legitimize self-publishing and e-books in the eyes of the public (and other aspiring writers) than anything else has or ever could. Like it or not, this is our life now. Look for our erotic novel Purple Pros, about two star-crossed professional golfers, out next year.
Not only was Margaret Sullivan hired as the
first female public editor for The New York Times this year, she also wasn't afraid to mix it up at the paper, agreeing with Jennifer Weiner when she called out the Times's Andrew Goldman for making sexist remarks on Twitter. A piece she wrote about the incident cemented her tough-but-fair reputation: "I made it clear to [Goldman] that kind of behavior he exhibited in this Twitter exchange would not be tolerated, and he was contrite and accepted that without argument. My feeling is that he had an unfortunate outburst, and that he will learn from it. He works very hard on these interviews and does a good job."
This one's a no-brainer: she was on Barbara Walters's "10 Most Fascinating People"
special, everyone is obsessed with her hair, her popularity is surging thanks in part to the "Texts From Hillary" meme, and there's also this picture. Case: rested.
First Gabby Douglas won the country over with her dominant performance in the 2012 London Olympic Games (as well as her completely infectious grin). Then she impressed everyone with her bravery in recounting the
bullying and racism she endured on her path to making the Olympic gymnastics team (her memoir about her experiences was published in December). Although she faced criticism from former coaches for speaking out about her negative experiences, she stuck to her guns and endeared herself to the country for it. She also got a cameo on The Vampire Diaries, so, you know, JEALOUS.
Even if you've never read a page of Jennifer Weiner's books, she deserves a shout-out for her tireless, dogged commitment to calling out sexism in the publishing industry — from noting the disparity of women's books versus men's being reviewed by major publications, to the dismissive way the industry treats "chick lit," to
tangling with over sexist remarks on Twitter from Andrew Goldman. Publishing and feminism could use more rabble rousers like her. The New York Times
28.Kerri Walsh and Misty May-Treanor
If we were Olympic beach volleyball duo Kerri Walsh and Misty May-Treanor, we might be nervous about going back to the Olympic games. Their prior record is so
strong — undefeated gold medalists in Athens in 2004, gold medalists again in Beijing (the only beach volleyball team to ever win the gold twice) — that it might be intimidating to face the pressure to replicate their success. Not for Walsh and Treanor, though. They went for the three-peat this year and got it, making them the recipients of 60% of all the beach volleyball titles ever awarded, in the history of the Olympics. Jeez Louise.
Former Michigan governor Jennifer Granholm gave a speech at the Democratic National Convention this year that, well, could be called a little loopy. Her animated and aggressive delivery gave rise to a lot of ribbing from
all sides on the internet. She's on our list, however, for choosing to give absolutely zero f*cks about the criticism. As she told us in September after the convention, "You’ll never be able to please everyone. I was at the convention to rally the base. The people who didn’t like it weren’t going to be receptive to the message anyway." Snaps!
Kim Ng is the most powerful woman in major league baseball, and that is not nearly enough for her. She's hoping to
become the "first female general manager in the history of American professional sports," and she has the resumè to do it: "[Ng] grew up in Queens four miles from Shea Stadium, a tomboy whose dad loved baseball. Wanted to be a professional tennis player. Loved the Yankees and worshipped the rough-and-tumble Thurman Munson and the so-smooth Don Mattingly. Graduated from the elite University of Chicago, where she majored in public policy and played infield on the softball team. Started as an intern with the Chicago White Sox, then worked her way into a full-time gig and became the youngest person and first woman to present a big-league salary arbitration case." Should she make the spot next year, it will be the fourth time she's been up for the general manager position for four different teams. Fingers crossed.
Not only did designer Rachel Roy lend her name and eye to
T-shirts for Obama's re-election campaign this year, she's not afraid to engage and collaborate with controversial figures like Deepak Chopra. Yup, he's going to be part of her new jewelry line. How did this come about? "I tweeted at him,” Roy said of her initial outreach, “then he re-tweeted me and we moved on to direct messaging. He’s just a very interactive, kind, and forward-thinking man.” The coolest part of all of this is that 100% of the proceeds from the collaboration will go to Chopra's Urban Yogi initiative, which "teaches at-risk youths an updated take on yoga, incorporating modern-day hip-hop into the mix." How 2012 is that?
Look, we're not saying that the replacement referee
debacle this year was a good thing. However. It did pave the way for Shannon Eastin to become the first ever female referee for a preseason NFL game. Even knowing the heightened scrutiny she would be under, and the criticism she might face for her lack of experience compared to other professional referees, Eastin remained eager and optimistic: "I have always put the most pressure on myself, understanding that pretty much everything I do is going to be magnified," she said. "I know what I signed up for. I have always said I need to be 'bigger, stronger and better' and make sure I know the rules. I have to control absolutely every aspect of everything I can control to make sure I do things even better than the men that are working. I am OK with that."
Tammy Duckworth is a war veteren who lost her legs piloting a Blackhawk helicopter in Iraq. She returned home and ran for office in November, unseating Illinois's Joe Walsh from his House of Representatives (an especially sweet victory after Walsh joined several other Republican colleagues in saying some
deeply stupid things about rape during the election). In the words of her co-pilot Daniel Milberg, "Too many people, military people included, are too willing to have a pity party. Man, there's no time for pity parties — look at this gal. I look at her and I think: What have I got to be cryin' about?"
34.Abby, Mary Anne and Liddy Huntsman
It might be hard to recall (or you may have defensively blocked out all memories of the seemingly endless election this year), but during primary season Republican candidate John Huntsman's daughters were making quite a name for themselves. From
Herman Cain parody ads to charming Instagram photos to funny Tweets, they injected some much-needed levity into a bitter primary season — and made their dad look a whole lot cooler in the process.
S.E. Cupp is the lone conservative commentator on MSNBC's "The Cycle," and became something of a therapist for the Republican party after Mitt Romney lost the election,
pushing back against arguments that the party's principles would have to change going forward. She also faced a great deal of sexism from the media herself, when early in 2012 Hustler photoshopped Cupp performing a sex act in their magazine. She handled the fallout with just the right mix of indignation, disgust and grace under fire — an example to other women in the public eye of exactly what to do when someone tries to humiliate and silence you.
Elizabeth Warren exploded onto the national stage this year, successfully unseating Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown, giving a barn-burning
speech at the DNC and now preparing to serve on the Senate's Banking Committee. She represented a rising tide of public opinion this year against the very rich and the total autonomy of corporations, arguing in her own words: "Corporations are not people. People have hearts, they have kids, they get jobs, they get sick, they cry, they dance. They live, they love, and they die. And that matters. That matters because we don't run this country for corporations, we run it for people."
Gillian Flynn wrote the book of the year — no, not
that one, the other one. Her thriller flew off the shelves this summer and became water cooler (and Gchat) talk for weeks, with the New York Times calling it "ice-pick-sharp" and "spectacularly sneaky." Awesome.
Ursula Burns is the CEO of Xerox, which is already impressive given that she's the
first African-American female CEO to head a Fortune 500 company, as well as the first woman to succeed another woman as the CEO of a Fortune 500 company. But Burns is on our list because s he may the next Commerce Secretary of the United States. Obama has admitted that he'd like to have a corporate CEO in the cabinet (man, it really sounds like he's collecting baseball cards or something, doesn't it?) and Burns may fit the bill. Here's hoping!
Leslie Bradshaw co-founded
Jess3 in 2006, a "creative agency specializing in data visualization," where she has remained through 2012. Before you start yawning, check out some of the cool campaigns Jess3 was part of this year: a fictional graphic novella about Steve Jobs, a "State Of Women-Owned Businesses" Report, and Google's Politics and Elections report, all of which led Jess3 to its third straight year of growth and $5 million in revenue. Bradshaw is starting a new venture in 2013 as the COO of a start-up currently in stealth mode. We're looking forward to seeing what she does next.
Taylor Swift had the best 2012 ever, if you don't count all of those breakups. Her album
Red was basically an unstoppable juggernaut, becoming "music’s highest weekly sales number since Eminem’s The Eminem Show in 2002 and [making] Taylor the only female artist – and the fourth artist ever – to sell more than one million albums in first week sales twice." Swift's dedication to her vision, control over her career and monster success make her one of the women of the year by default. If we tried to leave her off the list our eyes would start twitching uncontrollably until we fixed our error. She's killing it that hard.
Angela Merkel is the Regina George of the European Union, if in addition to being the most powerful person in her universe Regina George was also
super smart and very funny. In Germany they call her a "Machtfrau," which means "woman of power" and is also the new name of our band. She was re-elected at the annual party conference in Hanover with 98% of the vote. She's a no-brainer for the list, too.
Malala Yousafzai made headlines this year when she was the target of an
attempted assassination by the Taliban as a result of her campaigning for women's education in Pakistan. Not only was the attempt unsuccessful, however, but Yousafzai's bravery and willingness to speak out brought renewed attention to the state of women's education in the Middle East. As a result, November 10th was dubbed "'Malala Day' by former U.K. Prime Minister Gordon Brown in his role as U.N. Special Envoy for Global Education."
43.Maya the CIA Analyst
2011 brought us the astounding news that, after a decade, Osama bin Laden had been located and killed by a team of U.S. Navy SEALs. 2012 brought us the equally amazing news that a female CIA analyst in her mid-thirties played a role in his capture. The operative, who remains anonymous, was one of the people at the agency who zeroed in on the elaborate courier system used to deliver messages to and from bin Laden as a possible avenue to exploit in order to find him. Though she is apparently a
prickly character in real life, it's pretty mind-blowing that a single woman played such a large role in bringing down the country's most wanted terrorist. Moreover, it's pretty cool that her story will be dramatized this year by the first female Oscar-winning director Kathryn Bigelow. We say Bigelow should go for two.
Though she started out with a Ph.D in psychology from Brown University, Rashmi Sinha decided to switch gears and become a software developer instead. She's the brains behind SlideShare, a software platform that allows users to share presentations with one another online.
CNN Money named her one of the 10 most powerful female entrepreneurs — fitting, since LinkedIn acquired SlideShare in May of this year for a cool $119 million.
45.Amanda Pouchot and Caroline Ghosn
Amanda Pouchot and Caroline Ghosn have a
simple goal: give women the tools to ask for just as much money as men do. They created Levo League as a forum for women to look for mentors, other women with whom to network, and job and career advice. Their growth has continued in 2012, including the start of "#LocalLevo," which creates opportunities for women to run networking events in their communities across the country. Get it, girls!
Emily May co-founded
Hollaback! in 2005 as a way to give women some power and agency back against street harassers. Since then the organization has exploded, expanding at an astonishing rate and leading May to be named one of the next MAKERS, a movement dedicated to increasing the visibility of trailblazing women. She accepted the award this fall, the same week that Hollaback! was set to launch ten additional sites.
Carolyn Everson is another female bigwig at Facebook, serving as the company's VP of Global Marketing.
This year she made the cut for CNN Money's "40 Under 40" list and also had the opportunity to speak at the American Express Women's Conference. Up next for Everson is a six-month move across the pond to recruit a new VP and Managing Director for Europe, the Mideast, and Africa, so start updating those resumès.
Mindy Kaling is a force of nature. She parlayed her writing gig on
The Office into an ensemble role, landed her own sitcom deal on FOX, and wrote a book of essays, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me, basically because she felt like it. Through it all she has been a consistently hilarious, stylish, poised and driven women and part of the growing number of female showrunners in Hollywood. They're taking over, guys.
As Meredith Lepore
put it, "It was just in July that Marissa was named the new CEO of Yahoo, making her Silicon Valley’s most powerful woman.
That was on Monday. On Tuesday she announced that she was pregnant with her first child, and society went crazy. A pregnant CEO? What the what? How will she turn this company around now? But then when Marissa announced she would be taking the world’s shortest maternity leave she was heavily criticized for being a bad role model. She was considered a hero, a female role model, an anti-female role model and a potentially insane person, all within the span of about a week."
Mayer made history several times over this year, and we have to applaud her success and fearlessness in redefining what it meant to be a "working mom."
50.The Sandy Hook Elementary School Teachers
We'll let two
earlier posts of ours sum this one up: "There is still so much to learn about the shooter, his motives and the true damage wrought by his actions, but the teachers who protected the students in the school are heroes, no question...
Now that the state of Connecticut has released the names of those killed inside the school, we know that every victim inside Sandy Hook was either a child or a female staff member...
In the aftermath of a shooting like this one, police and first responders get a lot of credit, as they should. But we finds something so poignant about the teachers at the school, whose job it is to watch over these young kids when their parents can’t be there, and the compassion and love for their students that drove them to act on that day. They are heroes.
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