Newsweek's latest cover on "What Silicon Valley Thinks of Women" sparked a firestorm Thursday — on Twitter and in Silicon Valley — with some accusing the magazine of taking on sexism with a sexist cover.
The clip-art cover shows a woman in red heels holding a laptop, while a cursor lifts up her red dress.
“It's going to take a revolution to change the sordid and systemic sexism in Silicon Valley,” was how Newsweek tweeted out its cover story, which delves into scandals and controversies that have rocked the valley — from tech entrepreneur Gurbaksh Chahal who was accused of attacking his girlfriend to the sexual harassment lawsuit against Kleiner Perkins to startup “bro culture.”
"Well, Newsweek, the revolution's not going to start like this," feminist site Jezebel fired off on Twitter.
"Clickbait, designed to piss off women while pretending to investigate sexism in tech. Fail--but you know it," tweeted Jennifer Pozner, executive director of Women in Media and News.
“It’s kind of like doing a story about rape and having the cover image be a cartoon with a victim handcuffed to a bed,” tweeted Carmel DeAmicis, a reporter for Gigaom.
But it wasn’t just social media pundits and journalists lashing out.
The cover also got a lot of buzz at the Tech Superwoman Summit in San Francisco Thursday.
"Yikes," "What the heck," "This is the actual cover?" ... "Well interesting" — female software engineers and excecutives chimed in.
“I don’t know if I would have gone with that graphic,” said Cathryn Posey, founder of Tech Superwoman.
“It’s unfortunate, parents will tell their girls ‘don’t go into the tech industry,' when that’s only part of the story,” said Julie Elberfeld, an MVP at Capital One.
The Newsweek article itself points out that despite running tech giants such as Yahoo and HP, women are still under-represented in tech, something conference attendees didn't disagree with. Google, Facebook and Apple recently released gender breakdowns for its employees, and the numbers don’t look too good for women.
“I also think it’s our biggest opportunity — with this data, now that we know what’s going on, we can all partner to solve it, so I think it’s a transcendental moment for the industry if we can come together on it,” Posey said.
“We are actively hiring and recruiting right now, and we are looking to bring in a good balance of men and women,” said Julie Giannini of New Relic.
Newsweek’s editor James Impoco responded to the backlash, telling The Daily Beast: “We came up with an image that we felt represented what that story said about Silicon Valley. If people get angry, they should be angry.”