The Wednesday Five

In this week’s Wednesday Five: Women’s voices, great ones, are dominating podcasts, Chicago wins as the city with the most start-ups founded by women, the late photographer Mary Ellen Mark pays tribute to New Orleans in her final assignment, a new documentary charts the groundbreaking career of tennis superstar Althea Gibson, and this week’s New York Times Magazine has the award-winning poet Claudia Rankine weaving words about the athlete Serena Williams.



Better Living Through Podcasts

cover170x170Women’s voices, great ones, are dominating podcasts. Writing in The New Yorker, Sarah Larson tells us that women like Elizabeth Gilbert (author of Eat, Pray, Love) who started the “Magic Lessons” podcast and Gretchen Rubin who has  a podcast aptly called “Happier with Gretchen Rubin” are among the hottest trends heating up the podcast scene because they are offering their listeners something quite simple—a general celebration and appreciation of life. “Their voices,” says Larson, “remind you that life is a human project that we’re all experimenting with.”




World Capital of Female-Founded Startups—Chicago

Congratulations Chicago! San Francisco ought to take note. While we are still ‘leaning in,’ we are thrilled to see this report from Fortune magazine:

Roughly one out of every three (30%) Windy City tech startups was launched by a female founder, according to the 2015 Global Startup Ecosystem Ranking by, a provider of reporting and benchmarking software. That handily beats the global average of 20%. Boston is a close second at 29%, followed by San Francisco (24%) and Los Angeles (22%). Internationally, Montreal (22%) and Paris (21%) took the top slots, with Tel Aviv taking third place (20%).

So, what is Chicago doing for women that other cities need to model? According to the the study, it’s not an old boys club kind of culture.

Women make up about 30% of the Chicago’s startup workforce—among the highest percentage of all the cities included in the study. That’s had an impact on the local startup culture and provides would-be female entrepreneurs with the necessary experience to launch their own ventures. “It’s not as much of a bro culture when it comes to technology-minded companies,” says Nicole Yeary, founder of Ms. Tech, a community for female entrepreneurs in the city.



Photographer Mary Ellen Mark’s Tribute to New Orleans


For her last photography assignment, iconic photographer Mary Ellen Mark returned to New Orleans a decade after Hurricane Katrina devastated many of the city’s communities. She wanted to document the city’s recovery. One month later, she passed away. In a beautiful tribute to her work and to the men, women, and children she captured in her frames, CNN has published a moving visual homage, “Picturing This: New Orleans.”



The Tennis Trailblazer: Althea Gibson

Yesterday, August 25, was the great tennis player Althea Gibson’s birthday. Gibson’s trajectory of her success on the courts is as inspiring as it gets. In a tribute to her legacy, the Women’s Tennis Association wrote:

The daughter of a sharecropper from South Carolina, sheer force of will and a fierce athletic talent saw Gibson overcome societal discrimination, financial obstacles and myriad other barriers to become the first African-American to compete not just at Wimbledon, where she captured the ladies’ singles title in 1957 and 1958, but also the US Nationals, which she won in the same years. She had already become the first African-American to win a Grand Slam singles title in Paris in 1956.

Her life story has been made into the documentary, “Althea,” and will air on PBS’ American Masters on September 4th.



The Meaning of Serena Williams: On Tennis and Black Excellence


Speaking of tennis superstars, this week’s New York Times Magazine has the award-winning poet Claudia Rankine weaving words about the athlete Serena Williams. And this is the kind of beautiful paragraph (a paragraph that has been remarkably trending on Twitter) that emerges when a poet writes about the athlete and when said poet deconstructs the word “win”:

The word ‘‘win’’ finds its roots in both joy and grace. Serena’s grace comes because she won’t be forced into stillness; she won’t accept those racist projections onto her body without speaking back; she won’t go gently into the white light of victory. Her excellence doesn’t mask the struggle it takes to achieve each win.

Read the full poetic experience at The New York Times.

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