Newsflash: Not all smart women on Twitter are white CEOs

There was no way writing an article called “25 of the Smartest Women on Twitter” was ever going to go well. What does that even mean? How do you measure intelligence from 140-character broadcasts? Why do we need this list when we would never compile a male equivalent (the closest we’d get would be a default all-male “25 of the Smartest People on Twitter”)? We hear this message all the time: You’re smart for a woman. You’re tough for a girl.

So, as I said, this was never going to go well. But my god. What a clusterfuck.

Ann Charles — the founder of and self-described “woman CEO who writes about women in leadership” — assembled the list of worthy tweeters for and the whole thing is a mess. Almost all of the women are white. None are black. Let me repeat that. Charles didn’t include a single black woman in her list of smart internet ladies. A tip to the racists of the world: If you’re going to be a bigot, at least be sneakier about it.

The narrow range of professions represented on the list is also disturbing. The winners are nearly all corporate elites, with a couple non-profit CEOs and a politician thrown in to the mix. Even the few outliers conform to the business trend: the three current professors included are all from b-schools. Apparently women who use their smarts to pursue ends other than corporate success just aren’t that sharp. Lean in, amirite?

The progressive Twitterverse, thank goodness, is good at fighting back in the face of such absurdity. Feminista Jones started the trending #SmartBlackWomenofTwitter hashtag to highlight the voices of some tweeps worth following, and the ensuing conversation is rich with recommendations. Who are your favorite voices on Twitter? Let us know in the comments!

Update: T.F. Charlton (@graceishuman) has suggested #SmartLatinaWomenofTwitter and #SmartAAPIWomenofTwitter. Get on it, team.

Washington, DC

Alexandra Brodsky was a senior editor at During her four years at the site, she wrote about gender violence, reproductive justice, and education equity and ran the site's book review column. She is now a Skadden Fellow at the National Women's Law Center and also serves as the Board Chair of Know Your IX, a national student-led movement to end gender violence, which she co-founded and previously co-directed. Alexandra has written for publications including the New York Times, the Atlantic, the Guardian, and the Nation, and she is the co-editor of The Feminist Utopia Project: 57 Visions of a Wildly Better Future. She has spoken about violence against women and reproductive justice at campuses across the country and on MSNBC, ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, FOX, ESPN, and NPR.

Alexandra Brodsky was a senior editor at

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