Attention Grabbing Headline

Yesterday I had the thrill of reading an article about my company, Fingerprint in my local paper, The Marin Independent Journal, affectionately known as the “IJ”. Great article. The reporter told our story well and made me a minor celebrity for a day here in Mill Valley.  I also got to take the physical paper and hang it up on the bulletin board at Fingerprint World Headquarters ….. our first print press coverage. Very exciting!

The crazy thing is that I’ve been stewing over the headline, “Mill Valley woman launches new educational game company”.  Seriously?  If a man had started Fingerprint would the headline have read “Man launches new educational game company”?   My first gaming job was at Broderbund Software. Started right here in Marin, by Doug and Gary Carlson. Somehow I doubt the “IJ”  wrote “Two men launch educational gaming company”.  You get my point.

This comes on the heels of last week’s congressional hearing on whether or  not religious related employers should be required to cover the birth control pill and other forms of contraception in their health insurance plans.  All the people testifying were men. Seriously?  It’s probably not surprising since less than 20% of Congress is women and there are very few  senior level women on Obama’s team.

Aileen Lee from Kleiner Perkins wrote a post on Tech Crunch this week titled “Why your next board member should be a woman”.     She goes on to discuss that while women are 51% of the population, they make up only 15% of Fortune 500 boards of directors and even less of California tech company boards.  Over 50 people posted comments to this article,  most questioning her point of view. Mostly men commenting.

I love that the “IJ” showcased me and Fingerprint, but let’s re-write the headline …  and maybe the future. How about something clever like “Hot Gaming Start-up began in Mill Valley” !

4 thoughts on “Attention Grabbing Headline

  1. Couldn’t agree more. Would they say African American Launches New Educational Game Company? Women in leadership roles in business are probably more in the minority than African Americans. Either way, is it important to the story? I actually wonder why they included Woman in the headline… did they think it was novel that you are a woman? Would it grab more attention from readers, which headlines are supposed to do? Is it worth a Letter to the Editor? Might start an interesting dialogue. Loved the story however, and you are indeed our local celebrity – we’ll be proud of you when you become a major celebrity! You’re on your way!

  2. Congrats, Nancy! It’s really inspiring to see you succeeding in your latest endeavors.

    My initial inclination was to agree with you on the headline, but then I wondered about a few things. They wanted to highlight you were from Mill Valley. So what noun should they have used? I suppose “Mill Valley Entrepreneur” might have worked, which then becomes slightly redundant with the rest of the headline – of course an entrepreneur starts a company. Some further poking around on mercurynews.com found a few other headlines that DID put in ‘man’:
    – Pleasanton man dies after medical issue, car crash near Sunol
    – Man in hospital after fall from second floor of Berkeley fraternity

    Mind you, the tech headlines I saw typically either name names of officials or companies, or use terms like ‘user’ or ‘judge’ or ‘teenager’.

    The fact is, being female IS part of the news story, given that women in leadership and entrepreneurial roles are currently in the minority these days. Just as much as a panel of all males was at the heart of the ridiculousness that was that Congressional hearing. Just as much as the TechCrunch article pointing out female underrepresentation on boards of directors. I am overly optimistic about such things, but I’d like to think the connotation of the headline was not “Amazing! How can a woman do something like this?” and instead was “Awesome! More women are succeeding, demonstrating a world coming closer to equal footing!” (Though frankly? I think they just wanted a noun, and ‘entrepreneur’ was too long, ‘person’ or ‘citizen’ was too weird-sounding. And they didn’t think at all about it. Hmmm… that’s probably the problem!)

    • Thanks for your thoughts, Jeff. We’re both probably right here. Usually the headlines are things like “Woman Finds Baby Bird in Mail Box” or “Rare Coin found by Man at Bus Stop” so perhaps it’s the norm! I’m grateful for the coverage either way!

  3. I wholeheartedly agree. How about “Extraordinary Mill Valley mind launches new educational game company”?

    I live for the day when it isn’t such a shock that a woman created something so amazing as you have. But for now, relish in the PR that you are receiving for a job well done. I have two littles at home and love the idea of Fingerprint.

    I wish you the very best of luck! From one successful woman to another, if there is anything I can do to help please feel free to contact me.

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