Strange juxtaposition. While I was away in Europe for two weeks, I read the Walter Issacson book on Steve Jobs. It was truly captivating and compelling. I finished it on my flight home from London and was intrigued from the first word to the last. The book is written in the style of Apple which is that it is simply written, elegant in its prose, effortless, intelligent, and intuitive as you learn how his early thoughts translated into his future work. Like Jobs’ overall thinking, the book, like his computers, could be for anyone, techologist or not, male or female.
When I got home Friday night, I sorted through some of the magazines that had arrived. New York magazine’s cover story was about the rise of Ms. magazine and had Gloria Steinem on the cover. It was commemorating the feminist movement at its start in 1971 and as an insert in New York. The opening lines were a stark reminder that women have come far. In the 1970s, women had trouble getting credit cards without a man’s signature. Almost impossible to believe, right?
The two reads — the Jobs book and the magazine commemorative article — made me ponder. While reading the story of Steve Jobs, I mentioned to one of my traveling partners that I was disappointed that women figured so small in Jobs’ life. The book is full of men he loved and loved working with. There was little mention of his mother, Clara, and few women populated his life at Apple except for two or three. The preponderance of characters in Jobs’ life were men who had technology, engineering or design backgrounds and helped build the wonder that is Apple. There were indeed insights about his daughters, his wife, his former girlfriends and his sister but the ratio of men and their achievements and contributions at Apple, Pixar and NeXT far outweighed the women’s.
I am not sure what to think about the lack of women in high places in Jobs’ hierarchy but I would have been curious to know what he really thought of the second sex and technology. I understand the relevance of Adam but where’s Eve’s place in the story? The reputation of women in the techology world, in Silicon Valley and in digital today is a question that begs exploring. I imagine that someone else will notice and clarify for me. And I imagine that someone is writing a book proposal about Steve Jobs and the women in his working life.