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 BRANDfog.com and self-described “woman CEO who writes about women in leadership” — assembled the list of worthy tweeters for FastCompany.com 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.

New Haven, CT

Alexandra Brodsky is an editor at Feministing.com, student at Yale Law School, and founding co-director of Know Your IX, a national legal education campaign against campus gender-based violence. Alexandra has written for publications including the New York Times, the Atlantic, the Guardian, and the Nation, and she has spoken about violence against women and reproductive justice on MSNBC, ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, FOX, and NPR. Through Know Your IX, she has organized with students across the country to build campuses free from discrimination and violence, developed federal policy on Title IX enforcement, and has testified at the Senate. At Yale Law, Alexandra focuses on antidiscrimination law and is a member of the Veterans Legal Services Clinic. Alexandra is committed to developing and strengthening responses to gender-based violence outside the criminal justice system through writing, organizing, and the law. Keep an eye out for The Feminist Utopia Project, co-edited by Alexandra and forthcoming from the Feminist Press (2015).

Alexandra Brodsky is an editor at Feministing.com, student at Yale Law School, and founding co-director of Know Your IX.

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