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Dear Jane Fam,

Happy August!

This is my birthday month and I've already received the best present I could possibly want.

In July, the Washington Post published a perspective piece I wrote about how women "code male" to effectively navigate male dominated spaces like venture capital.

Wait – this was not the gift. The birthday present was much, much better.

As you can imagine, "pitching while female" is an interesting experience in and of itself. The added nuance of pitching a menstruation-based product while female is... well

...fodder for great perspective pieces. The article provided space for me to publicly share some of the more trying interactions I have experienced, and the lessons I’ve learned along the way.

A person going by the handle of “PracticalGal” was moderating the thread and engaging with every commenter, from those making straw man arguments or leading ad hominem attacks to earnest attempts to dismiss the effects of systemic bias.
Michael-in-Chicago: So, why are you complaining? That isn't going to change anything. If you don't like how men behave in the business world either adapt in order to sell your product or quit. Whining about all the cultural biases is a waste of my time and yours. Be the change you want to see happen.
Model it. Complaining is not modeling, it's simply being typically female.
PracticalGal: Seems to me that pointing out actual problems is pretty much always the first step towards solving them.
It’s not complaining. It’s not whining. It’s the start of change.

I felt like some caped heroine had cleared the path for me.

I wanted to push through the predictable negation and name-calling and find well-reasoned alternative perspectives which could still explain the experiences I had shared with the world. But the energy required to wade through “internet rage” seemed too much until I saw PracticalGal’s sustained efforts in the comments section. The exercise of wading through the comments section, which all too often becomes a discouragement, became a cathartic exercise in solidarity.

I don’t know who PracticalGal is but her gesture – a stranger spending time to address every flip rebuttal with thoughtful feedback under another stranger’s article – moved me.
She changed the vibe of the entire space for me. I could scroll past unhelpful responses, unbothered, without wanting to stop and angrily type on my keyboard – because likely she had already answered them.

It was such a gift.

The internet can be an unforgiving place, especially for women who want to voice loud opinions. I was humbled by how much of a difference a single person could make to the entire experience. PracticalGal, if by some chance you get this email, Thank You. I hope I can pay forward the gift you shared with me.

If you’re receiving this newsletter, you are likely already a supporter of what we are trying to do at NextGen Jane. But we have established new goals of reaching even more women by the end of the year. How can you help with that?

1.    Forward this email to a friend and tell them to check out the website and join the newsletter. 
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2.     Sign up to be a Beta Tester! Why?

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We need a large "n" of women to help build our understanding of your reproductive health. The more women who sign up to be part of the Jane database, the more we understand how you all are different and alike. It is key to understanding when your body is signaling health and illness. Without your participation, we’re only a device manufacturer and not a powerful biotech / data company with the power to change how women interact with their health. Be an agent of change and forge the world you want to see. Sign up to send us your tampon ;)
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In Solidarity,
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