Singh Cassidy: To Fight Sexism in Tech, Place Women on Boards

December 18 - Sarah Ashlock

FIRST THOUGHT: The Art of Restraint

Restraint: I’m learning this word might be the key to climbing the corporate ladder or holding onto a long-term relationship. Restraint: It’s the thing you do when you’re about to lose it, but know that burning a bridge won’t ever end great. Restraint: Maybe that new guy you met at the music festival still hasn’t texted back. Maybe that bag of marshmallows seems to be calling your name. Maybe your general manager keeps smacking his gum next to your ear. Restraint: A technique for using restraint during your next annoying reaction is to distract yourself. Walk away from your phone, walk away from the pantry, walk away from your general manager.


Women in nearly every field have to restrain themselves whenever a superior uses a particular tone, or a colleague comes across as two-faced. Use your judgment about what does and doesn’t deserve your restraint. Make your boundaries clear. If you feel like you can’t say what you want to say without fear of coming across as a you-know-what, look at this 2015 research published by the journal Emotion: When participants in two studies viewed videos of men pausing before expressing anger, they viewed their restraint as a sign of strength, intelligence, authenticity and control. Women who showed restraint, on the other hand, were viewed the exact opposite, seen as emotionally unintelligent and “fake.”

WOMAN TO WATCH: Singh Cassidy, President at StubHub and Founder & Chairman at theBoardlist

For the past six months, today’s Woman to Watch, Singh Cassidy, has been a role model to STEM girls and women everywhere as the founder of theBoardlist, a curated marketplace that places women on boards. Singh is making waves not only as a woman, but also as someone with an often-nuanced opinion.

At theBoardlist, it’s her mission to put more women on boards: not only to close the gender gap but also because it’s better business to do so. Period. According to Singh, companies with women on their boards see better returns, and that kind of diversity often trickles down.

One of her ideas that will take even the most humble leader off guard is requiring CEO reviews. That’s right, while employees often get reviewed, the tip-top peeps often don’t. So, who reviews a CEO? The company board. Offering candid feedback and evaluations helps unite the message and mission of a company, which proves to be crucial to continuing a brand. Before a company goes into major crisis mode following a CEO’s choices, they’re better able to understand their motives, actions and career trajectory.

Being a proponent of a board-led evaluation comes as no surprise for Singh, who started theBoardlist before becoming president at StubHub. (You know, the world’s largest ticket marketplace, where you can buy and sell tix to virtually anything, from an Ariana Grande concert to Lakers game.)

While theBoardlist has begun to change the look of those all-male boards with more than 100 placements, there’s something else Singh enjoys about working for the company: She’s able to thrive in the variety of startup life, getting deep into data analytics one minute and jumping into videography the next.

Singh has a tough skin, as someone who spent her early career in the other male-dominated fields of investment banking and traditional media. She recalls a male colleague acting volatily in that environment, and then being stunned afterwards that his behavior was rewarded. One boss even told Singh that her approach “scared the secretaries.” How do you hold your own while not being called the often used B-word? For Singh, she was able to start holding her own when she discovered a group of founders that reflected her own values. Follow Singh’s approach and find yourself a girl gang who gets you.


It seems appropriate to close today with words by our Woman to Watch, Singh Cassidy:

"Work harder than anyone else. And at some point when you've done all you can possibly do, let go of the outcome. The latter advice being much harder than the former."

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