What does female power look like?
Is it Rihanna, glittering in a silver sequined sheath, as she saunters queen-like through the Hall of Mirrors at Versailles after dark?
Is it model Ysaunny Brito in black latex skirt, nipped-waist power jacket, and patent stilettos, giving fierce side-eye as she dominates the streets of L.A.?
Or maybe it's Roseanne Barr, still ballsy and bold at 62, declaring "I don't want to be ordinary... I don't want to be just good. I want to be great."
Those are just some of the examples of powerful women appearing in the July issue of Elle, which also features 10 Bay Area-based femmes who are dominating the tech industry. So intrigued by the topic, the magazine used the word "power" at least a dozen times in the issue (we lost count), and repeated it five times in a single headline.
Robbie Myers, Kevin O'Malley and Tiffany Anastasakis
"The truth is that, at Elle, we're interested in two things," explained editor in chief Robbie Myers over dinner at Prospect this week. "One is women who are making the culture, and the other is how women accrue power and how they use it once they have it."
"But we don't have all the power that we deserve, we don't even have all the power that we need," she said.
Myers' comments were made in a roomful of some of the Bay Area's most powerful women, at a dinner cohosted by St. John to celebrate Elle's cover profile of the year's most influential women in technology. Or as the headline describes them: "Women Who Rule Silicon Valley."
The 10 honorees—Julia Hartz (Eventbrite), Elizabeth Iorns (Science Exchange), Jane Park (Julep), Tracy Chou (Pinterest), Mary Grove (Google), Sara Haider (Periscope), Aileen Lee (Cowboy Ventures), Selina Tobaccowala (SurveyMonkey), Grace Garey (Watsi), Michelle Zatlyn (CloudFlare)—were joined for the evening by other Silicon Valley powerhouses including Alison Pincus, Tina Sharkey, Deepa Pakianathan, Zem Joaquin, and Ruzwana Bashir, among others.
Sara Haider, software engineer, Periscope (photo by Frank Terry for Elle)
The women were selected largely at the suggestion of last year's honorees. A few have founded billion-dollar companies, some are engineers while others are on the business side of things. Three are in their 20s, the oldest is 45.
But what they all have in common is they're in full leadership roles, and have worked long and hard to get where they're at (Sara Haider, an engineer at the hottest streaming video app, Periscope, started coding at age 8!).
Roseanne Barr famously opined years ago that "The thing women have yet to learn is nobody gives you power. You just take it." That's a truth these women know well.
Photos by Drew Altizer