The Woman Behind Hemingway’s Writing, and More

April 3, 2019

QUOTE OF THE WEEK

“I want to be treated just the same as everybody else. I want to get some job, and I want to be seen as just the register lady or something, you know what I'm sayin’? I don't wanna be looked at as 'Oh, the trans girl.' I just wanna be me.”—Quinn Robinson, on navigating LGBTQ+ intolerance at her high school.
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THE STORY

Deloitte published a study showing that you need inclusive leadership in order to see the full benefits of diversity. The company defines inclusive leadership as “leadership that assures that all team members feel they are treated respectfully and fairly, are valued and sense that they belong, and are confident and inspired.” The research also finds that teams with inclusive leaders are more likely to report that they are high-performing, make high-quality decisions, and behave collaboratively. Deloitte lists six traits they’ve gathered from their research that are characteristic of such leadership: visible commitment, humility, awareness of bias, curiosity about others, cultural intelligence, and effective collaboration.

OUR TAKE

This study aligns with existing research showing that leadership styles most often associated with women and people from more collectivist cultures have unique benefits for a team. The findings demonstrate that we must move beyond narrow definitions of leadership modeled after a white male ideal of assertiveness and individualism, and toward a broader definition that bolsters inclusion.

How It Affects You

The researchers have a few pointers for how to ensure that you’re leading inclusively: 1) Seek out feedback on your leadership; 2) Identify a personal narrative that illustrates the importance of inclusion, both for yourself and to share with others; 3) Make a point to work with diverse teams and hear what they have to say; and 4) Check your impact.

THE STORY

According to Lynnise Pantin, director of the Entrepreneurship and Community Development Clinic at Columbia Law School, recent stories about Billy McFarland and Elizabeth Holmes, two con artists responsible for the creation of fake companies, illustrate the impact of the racial wealth gap and unconscious bias on raising capital. Pantin contrasts the ease with which McFarland and Holmes raised capital for their fraudulent ideas with how difficult it is for entrepreneurs of color with legitimate ventures to do the same. As one entrepreneur of color shares, he is never given the benefit of the doubt, and “everything I do is judged two times in either direction.” Pantin also says that most entrepreneurs of color don’t have access to the mentorship and financing opportunities that many white entrepreneurs take for granted, like access to traditionally white male networks. Of the “fraudulent founders,” she writes, “Their infamous ascents suggest that if you are white and have the right pedigree and a new or novel idea, access to capital is relatively accessible.”

Our Take

Pantin’s argument is so compelling because it shows that privileged white entrepreneurs have much more access to capital, even if their venture is, in retrospect, blatantly fraudulent—all thanks to the power of unconscious bias, overt discrimination, and the wealth gap. Research shows that in 2017, “only 16 Black women-led companies had raised over a million dollars in venture capital funding.” Pantin argues that this severe racial gap in venture funding means our country is going to “lose its innovation edge.” Seeing how lack of diversity plays out in companies and colleges, we agree.

How It Affects You

Pantin suggests three ways to create an environment that supports diversity in entrepreneurship and equity in access to capital: 1) Call out bias in private finance markets; 2) Invest in underserved entrepreneurs through education, mentorship, and exposure; and 3) Utilize public programs like “Opportunity Zones” to encourage investment in the ventures of people of color. Learn more about these approaches in Pantin’s piece.

THE STORY

Long before Hemingway published A Farewell to Arms, Ellen N. La Motte—World War I frontlines nurse, close friend of Gertrude Stein, and censored author—published The Backwash of War. The book, which initially received glowing reviews and was later banned in England and France for its anti-war stance, was written in “‘sharp, quick sentences’ that bore no resemblance to conventional ‘literary style’”—long before Hemingway developed his signature “spare, ‘masculine’ prose.” In fact, given La Motte’s relationship to Stein and Stein’s subsequent mentorship of Hemingway, the two women undeniably made a profound impact on the style and topics of Hemingway's writing. The question is, why was La Motte’s war writing forgotten throughout history, while Hemingway went on to receive a Nobel Prize for the “influence he exerted on contemporary style?”

OUR TAKE

This is yet another example of a woman who has been erased throughout history only to have a man take credit for her accomplishments—a frustrating and unfortunate byproduct of sexism, censorship, and lack of access. As the work of male artists and writers continues to define much of what we know about the history of arts and culture, we should consider the yet-unknown women who would otherwise fill in huge gaps in history.

How It Affects You

Consider the probability that there are women and other marginalized people who contributed to your field but continue to go unrecognized. How can you research and bring awareness to these people in your work?