Links to interesting articles I've read

The Women Behind 'Mad Men'

Not surprisingly, the most interesting characters for me are Peggy & Sally:

Behind the smooth-talking, chain-smoking, misogynist advertising executives on “Mad Men” is a group of women writers [creating] a world where the men are in control and the women are more complex than they seem, or than the male characters realize.

Profile of Sheryl Sandberg

COO of Facebook, a former Google VP, now on Obama's advisory council on jobs and the boards of Disney and Starbucks (though she's leaving this year as Facebook files for IPO.)

She neither flaunts nor hides her ambition, and she talks about her guilt at not being home more; she takes command in meetings, yet she’s comfortable describing Mark Zuckerberg as “my boss,” and as “the Steve Jobs of his generation.” She is emblematic, Gruenfeld thinks, of a post-feminist woman who believes that “when you blame someone else for keeping you back, you are accepting your powerlessness.”

There are also, of course, still remnants of “Mad Men”-era sexism. Dina Kaplan, the co-founder of, says that when she met with angel investors to raise funds she dressed nicely, and in a meeting with a potential funder he told her, “Here’s what we do, Dina. We’re going to spend half the meeting with you pitching me, and half the meeting with me hitting on you!”

“I felt nauseous,” she says. “I tried to laugh it off. I asked, ‘Of all the things you’re working on, what most excites you?’ He said, ‘Seeing you naked tonight.’ ”

I also recommend watching Sandberg's TED talk, Why we have too few women leaders

Sara Blakely becomes youngest self-made female billionaire

[The founder of Spanx] owns 100% of the private company, has zero debt, has never taken outside investment and hasn’t spent a nickel on advertising [...] The company is now run by a team of 125, only 16 of them men.

The Polgar Sisters, 3 of the most successful female chess champions

And their father who believes success is earned through hard work, not innate talent.

[Susan] dominated the New York Open chess competition. At 16 she crushed several adult opponents and landed on the front page of The New York Times. [...] Susan’s raven-haired sister Sophia, 11, swept most of the games in her section, too. But the pudgy baby of the family, 9-year-old Judit, drew the most gawkers of all. To onlookers’ delight, Judit took on five players simultaneously and beat them. She played blindfolded.

When Susan was 21, she became the first woman ever to earn the designation Grandmaster [...] Judit picked up the honor the same year, at age 15. She was a few months younger than Bobby Fischer was when he won the title.

Susan once said she never won against a healthy man. [...] men always had some excuse after losing a game to a woman: “It must have been my headache.”

New Yorker's 2003 Tina Fey profile, when she was the first woman head writer at SNL

In that comfort zone, we say the meanest kind of things,” she explained. “If you want to make an audience laugh, you dress a man up like an old lady and push her down the stairs. If you want to make comedy writers laugh, you push an actual old lady down the stairs.”

Offstage, Fey is playful but proper. On the air, her delivery is like a lash— “Hey, kids, it’s the great women of U.S. history! Collect all ten!” or “This is the hardest Bush has worked since that time he tried to walk home from Mardi Gras”—followed by a self-deprecating smile. Nearly all Fey’s colleagues mentioned her ability to be mean and disarming at the same time. I heard her humor variously described as “hard-edged,” “vicious,” and “cruel.”

Vanity Fair's 2009 profile, when she's known for 30 Rock and her Palin impressions

Fey saw an entertainment reporter on TV say [...] Fey hadn’t been gracious toward Palin. “[...] Who would ever go on the news and say, ‘Well, I thought it was sort of mean to Richard Nixon when Dan Aykroyd played him,’ and ‘That seemed awful mean to George Bush when Will Ferrell did it.’” “Mean,” we agreed, was a word that tends to get used on women who do satirical humor and, as she says, “gay guys.”

"Confessions of a Juggler" by Tina Fey

An essay she wrote in 2011 about impending career & life deadlines and the industry's view on aging women.

I have observed that women, at least in comedy, are labelled “crazy” after a certain age.

I know older men in comedy who can barely feed and clean themselves, and they still work. The women, though, they’re all “crazy.” [...] the definition of “crazy” in show business is a woman who keeps talking even after no one wants to fuck her anymore.

The only person I can think of who has escaped the “crazy” moniker is Betty White, which, obviously, is because people still want to have sex with her.