Welcome To The Femme Futurists Society… Because the Future Needs Us All.

May 09 2020

My colleague Emma and I could not be more excited to introduce you to the Femme Futurists Society. And since today is Mother’s Day, allow me to start with a futurist mom story…

Several years ago our uniquely well-resourced public school district made a commitment to better prepare our kids for the future by creating a business incubator program for high school students. This innovative effort was thoughtfully designed to teach all those tricky skills one needs to confidently and empathetically conceive and bring risky new ideas into the world; ever more important as advances in AI, robotics, bio-engineering, spatial computing, crypotography and so much more, are converging to radically reimagine everything, from education, food supply, manufacturing and retail, environmental fragility, wealth inequality and even lifespan, through to the role of business overall. I was thrilled my son was given such an opportunity!

To ensure the success of this effort, our school even built a new collaborative “lab”. On back-to-school night I was so looking forward to touring this space my fortunate son would be working in throughout his junior year. It was filled with brightly colored furniture, shiny new computers and inspiring quotes from successful entrepreneurs mounted proudly on freshly painted walls; Steve Jobs, Malcolm Forbes and Thomas Edison, permanently there to cheer on persistence, creativity and grit.

All deserving thought leaders. All men. All white.

In a brand new class designed to spur the future by instilling a belief in one’s self and one’s ideas, these were the only role models offered to the students of all genders and backgrounds bravely diving into this new class, eager to build the capacities needed to architect this fast-shifting era. I noticed the same in the quotes all around their World History classroom. And most of the mentions in the science text of Noble prize winners. Same, actually, on the huge chalkboard filled with at least 20 quotes proudly displayed at the entrance of a new-frontier corporate university I toured later the same month. And frankly, the same as the motivating quotes my contemporaries include in most of their keynote talks.

When we talk about the future, we often, unconsciously (and ironically), repeat a worn-out habit of finding inspiration from only one half of the population. This matters a lot given that the shape of life ahead will be conceived by a bold belief in “what if”, as well as by continuously asking if it is safe, ethical and fair. To build the best next we can, we need as many brains, hearts and identities in the work as possible.

Frustratingly, as we look to who is currently building the future—and as importantly, who is poised to profit from these big ideas—there are some eye-popping stats: the AI Now Institute last year estimated that women currently make up 24.4% of the computer science workforce and receive median salaries that are only 66% of the salaries of their male counterparts. Women account for just over one in 10 engineers, and this percentage is not increasing. And even with all the attention, women are only 7 percent of top executives in the Fortune 100 companies. Worth noting: there are more men named Michael than total women named to HBR’s 2019 list of top CEO’s in the world. Looking ahead, this glaring gender gap is just as bleak; as reported recently just 2.5 percent of all venture-capital-backed startups have an all-female founding team. Only 9 percent of the venture capitalists investing in tech startups are women. And even today, only slightly more than one-fifth of all American VC investment goes to startups where at least one of the founders is a woman. #FFS.

We also need to encourage women to step in, stay in and contribute more boldly to the work. A report by the National Center for Women in Information Technology found that nearly half the women who go into technology eventually leave the field — more than double the percentage of men who leave. And looking through Amazon’s business books bestseller list, only three of the top 20 business books are authored by females.

This makes our opportunity pretty damn clear. To balance the dominant masculine side of the conversation with the currently underrepresented feminine, we are thrilled to showcase and amplify the thinking and work of this thoughtful collection of futurists - each of whom has her own take on what the frontier holds in business, technology, and society, and who collectively offer a truly inspiring look at what’s ahead.

Our intent is to expand our belief in what’s possible so that each of us is encouraged to get in there and start making it so. We are committed to building a future in which all people thrive, and where people from all backgrounds, genders and identities work in partnership together: enthusiastically sharing ideas, respectfully challenging each other’s thinking and collaboratively building a much better next.

So, welcome to the Femme Futurists Society! Kicking off with the brilliant Elatia Abate and Ayelet Baron, we will be sharing new interviews every Wednesday and Sunday. Please spread the word. And we appreciate your constructive feedback, curious questions and nominations of more visionary women (scroll to the bottom of the site to submit). While there is a lot of work to do ahead, together our potential has never been greater. Let’s ALL play bigger.