2020 Women on Boards, a group dedicated to boosting the numbers of women on the boards of major businesses, has issued a challenge to Facebook in light of its upcoming IPO: Put a women on your board within two years and have women represent 20 percent of your board by 2020. The group lists Facebook as a "Zero 'Z' Company" in its directory of gender diversity.

A new YouTube video notes that "women control 80% of consumer spending, yet don't feel advertisers understand them. Could it be because only 3% of advertising creative directors are women?" The parody of Mad Men features two "mad women" trying to market a vibrating jock strap. Watch it after the jump.

New research from the American College State Farm Center for Women & FInancial Services finds that both male and female small business owners prefer to speak with financial advisers of the same gender, though the number of women financial advisers ags behind the number of men in the field. Published in a paper for the Academy for Financial Services, the study found that 61 percent of female small business owners prefer to speak to female financial advisers (compared to 24 percent of male small business owners). However, less than 31 percent of financial advisers are women, according to the Bueau of Labor Statistics.
Anne Wojcicki is the founder and CEO of 23andMe, a genetic testing company that "allows its users to learn more about their ancestry, genealogy, and inherited traits," according to My Tech Letter. Wojcicki has secured more than $52.6 million in funding for her company, which, for $99, allows customers to send in a saliva sample for DNA testing, and six to eight weeks later log into a website to explore their genomes. Then, customers can find out their genetic predisposition to Parkinson's disease, various cancers, and other diseases and traits.
The first article in the Washington Post's three-part series on myths about women in business focuses on the notion that women employees make less than their male counterparts because women are less aggressive about asking for raises. After studying the career paths of "high-potential" male and female workers, Catalyst's Nancy Carter and Christine Silva found that for women, initiating conversations about compensation did not add up to faster compensation growth. If anything, "as both men’s and women’s careers progress, the gender gap in level and pay gets even wider," leading the researchers to conclude that "[p]erhaps it’s not that women don’t ask—but that men don’t have to."
A new study funded by the National Women's Business Council finds that the number of women obtaining patents has increased significantly in recent years, with a peak in 2010. The study found that in 201 22,984 patents were granted to women, a 35 percent jump over the previous year. These data represent preliminary findings from the study, which NWBC says is the first of its kind of explore the rates of women who apply for and receive patents in such depth. In part, this is because the U.S. Patents and Trademarks Office did not gather gender data in the past.
“In many households, moms are the chief buyers. And in the new millennium, if they can’t find what you need, they just invent it themselves," Busy Mom Boutique founder Linsay Chavez tells the New York Times. Indeed, mom inventors have enjoyed an explosion in popularity and exposure in recent years, with websites like Mom Invented and Mogul Mom helping to support "mompreneurs" like Heather Allard, who sold the rights to her products the Swaddleaze and the Blankeaze for six figures in 2008.
The Women's Venture Capital Fund, which is focused on supporting women entrepreneurs, has made its inaugural investment to messaging startup Ivy Corp. The startup is working to "transform the way teams communicate at work" and will use the money to fund Ivytalk, "a new product that provides simultaneous, two-way group messaging," reports GeekWire. The MWCF "capitalizes on the intersection of the expanding pipeline of women founders and gender-diverse management teams who are creating capital efficient companies with stiletto high growth rates."
The National Women’s Business Council has announced the submission of its annual report, containing policy and program recommendations for assisting women-owned businesses, to the White House. Among this year's recommendations, per the NWBC: Explore the use of tax incentives to encourage increased lending by banks, increased funding by angel and venture investors, and increased corporate opportunities for women-owned businesses; and update statistics on women’s participation in the federal contracting sector.
"The founders of Google, Genentech, Netscape, and Yahoo! have two things in common: All of them are university inventors whose companies grew out of the technologies they developed on campus. And all of them are male," writes Scott Shane at Businessweek. Studies show that women are far less likely than men to start companies to sell their inventions, but why? Shane cites several researchers' ideas, but notes that there's another factor at play: "The attitudes of technology licensing officers on university campuses."
This week Americans charge into one of the busiest shopping weeks of the year, picking up final Christmas gifts as the December 25 holiday fast approaches. Reports about retail sales have been mixed this holiday season, but American Girl, which sells dolls, books and accessories, does not seem to be feeling the pinch of a tight economy. American Girl, the store, sells dolls representing periods in American history, alongside books that tell each doll’s story. Also for sale: dolls that look just like your daughter, with accessories matching her interests. But it costs. The doll itself is $100. Add accessories to that and the bill can quickly add up.
Visit a Lego retail store and "you'll notice not just the staggering array of Lego offerings—545 in the last year—but an absence," writes Brad Wieners. The absence is girls. "After overreaching and cratering in the early Aughts, the Lego Group deliberately focused on boys," Wieners reports. But now, Lego is launching Lego Friends, a product line designed for girls ages 5 and up. As Lego Group CEO Jørgen Vig Knudstorp notes, "We want to reach the other 50 percent of the world's children."
Marketers and media groups are increasingly trying to reach the Latin-American woman demographic. "Among the most recent initiatives is a new publication, Cosmopolitan Latina, that will start publishing in May and will be aimed at American-born Latin women who are bicultural and bilingual," reports the New York Times, which also notes that there are nearly 25 million Latin women in the United States, according to recent Census Bureau data. More than 8 million of those women are U.S.-born and over the age of 18.
A new report from the University of California, Davis, Gradiate School of Management finds that women hold fewer than 10% of the highest-paid executive positions and board seats in the state. What's more, there has been little improvement in this rate over the years. The seventh annual study saw just a 0.2% annual improvement in the rate of California women who hold these top positions. According to the report, "The proportion of women who lead California’s largest companies is growing at such a slow pace that it will take more than a century for women business leaders to achieve parity with men."