The Women Who Upended Silicon Valley

Author Julian Guthrie (center) with the Alpha Girls. From left: Theresia Gouw, Mary Jane Elmore, Sonja Hoel, and Magdalena Yesil
Author Julian Guthrie (center) with the Alpha Girls. From left: Theresia Gouw, Mary Jane Elmore, Sonja Hoel, and Magdalena Yesil

Can you feel a shift in the roles and recognition of women over the past year? I sure can. Since the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements took off, women have been telling their stories with greater frequency and more force than ever before—and the benefits of their voices being heard are reverberating everywhere.

Julian Guthrie’s new book, Alpha Girls: The Women Upstarts Who Took On Silicon Valley’s Male Culture and Made the Deals of a Lifetime, delves into the overlooked stories of four venture capitalists who managed to juggle work and family while changing the landscape of their (sexist) industry. An excerpt from Alpha Girls, which was released on Tuesday, is featured in the Summer 2019 issue of Alta. Read it here.

Guthrie will join Alta publisher Will Hearst at San Francisco’s Commonwealth Club on May 14 to discuss her book and the stubborn challenges facing women in tech. Entry to this event costs up to $65, but the first 20 Altamagazine subscribers to email and state their interest in attending will receive a pair of free tickets that include the discussion, a pre-event hosted VIP reception, and a copy of Alpha Girls.

Meanwhile, far from Silicon Valley, some cultural organizations are actively celebrating the contributions of women. As part of its 100th-anniversary celebration, the Los Angeles Philharmonic has commissioned 55 new works from a diverse collection of composers, including 22 women and 22 people of color. For “Sanctuary Symphony,” Alta contributor Catherine Womack spoke with two of those composers, Carolyn Chen and Julia Adolphe. “The L.A. Phil made a decision to think about the balance of where people were coming from and what they were representing,” Chen says.

To further explore the role of women in music, Alta is partnering with the San Francisco Conservatory of Music to offer a free event on May 20. Please join us as musicians from the San Francisco Symphony, San Francisco Ballet Orchestra, and Opera Parallèle discuss women’s emerging voices in classical music, the challenges female musicians face, and what a future with more equitable representation might sound like.

While more changes—in more industries—are needed, examples abound of women making significant gains. According to the Los Angeles Times, 2018 was the first time in memory that female artists had more full-scale solo shows at art museums than their male counterparts. Women and Hollywoodreports that in 2018, female characters accounted for 31 percent of sole protagonists in the 100 top-grossing films—a recent historical high. And WineSpeed’s Karen MacNeil notes in her Second Annual Report on the Status of Women in the Wine Industry that at wineries producing 500,000 to 1 million cases per year, 25 percent of CEOs were women. (MacNeil’s report is detailed and eye-opening, whether you’re into wine or not. Give it a read.)

At Alta, we strive to be a part of this inclusive shift—two-thirds of our six-person team is female, and we endeavor to publish a range of stories that reflects the full, beautiful diversity of California and the West. Please let us know how we’re doing: Do you feel represented in the pages of our magazine? Are there voices and points of view we should be publishing? We hope you’ll drop us a line at       


This article appeared in Alta’s May 2, 2019 newsletter

Beth Spotswood is Alta's digital editor, events manager, and a contributing writer.
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