Laurene Powell Jobs Has a Name. Use It.

Her name is Laurene Powell Jobs. She is a philanthropist and investor, and she is founder of the Emerson Collective with a focus on education, the environment, immigration and social justice issues. Despite all of that, when she took a majority stake in The Atlantic last week she was, primarily, someone’s widow.

by UNclimatechange [ CC BY 2.0 ],  via Flickr

by UNclimatechange [CC BY 2.0], via Flickr

The CNBC headline read: “First Jeff Bezos. Now Steve Jobs’ widow: Tech billionaires are making media power plays”. Bezos is identified by his name. Powell Jobs is identified as Steve Jobs’ widow.

MarketWatch’s headline (from The Wall Street Journal) reads: “Apple co-founder Steve Jobs’s widow Laurene Powell Jobs is latest to put tech wealth to work in news media”. Steve Jobs gets top billing, even though he passed away in 2011. In the first paragraph, it’s as if her only title is “widow”:

Laurene Powell Jobs, the widow of Apple Inc AAPL, +0.18% co-founder Steve Jobs, is acquiring a majority stake in the Atlantic magazine through Emerson Collective, her philanthropic organization. Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed.

NPR used her name in its headline — “Laurene Powell Jobs to Buy Stake in ‘The Atlantic’” — but it faltered in its first paragraph:

The Atlantic magazine, founded in 1857 as a crusading publication by an anti-slavery group, will be acquired by the widow of the man behind the iPod and whose philanthropic organization is named for one of those very abolitionists.

She is, first, “the widow of the man behind the iPod” and, second, the founder of a philanthropic organization named for a slavery abolitionist.

At Recode, the headline was good, but her title in the subheader is “widow”: “Laurene Powell Jobs is buying the Atlantic magazine: The widow of Apple founder Steve Jobs is buying a majority stake in the publisher.” The first paragraph gets it right:

Laurene Powell Jobs, the Silicon Valley entrepreneur and philanthropist, is acquiring a majority stake in the Atlantic magazine.

Perhaps, Recode didn’t think anyone would click on the story without the Steve Jobs mention.

Here's how you do it:

Via The New York Times:


The fact that she’s Steve Jobs’ widow? It’s not mentioned until paragraph seven.

A few days before The Atlantic announcement, Bloomberg reported an investment by the Emerson Collective in a virtual reality firm: “Laurene Powell Jobs Leads Funding Round in Virtual-Reality Firm.” Her connection to Steve Jobs is not mentioned until paragraph six.

Laurene Powell Jobs will always be Steve Jobs’ widow and, yes, the money was made through Apple stock, but her accomplishments are her own. Neglecting to name her in article titles and identifying her as someone’s widow erases her identity and her unique and powerful contributions to the world.

A media bias that portrays women attached to men not only impacts all of us today, but it also creates a biased historical record. At GenderAvenger we seek to change that by ensuring that women, famous or not, are visible and their accomplishments celebrated.

Acknowledge Laurene Powell Jobs’ accomplishments. Acknowledge her.