From Joan of Arc to Reese Witherspoon, women have been transforming the world for centuries. But there is one woman in particular that deserves just as much recognition as anyone else. A woman who doesn’t stop until she reaches her final goal, even when charged with “massive fraud”. So in honor of Women’s History Month and the release of the new Hulu series, The Dropout, featuring Amanda Seyfried as the enigma at the center of this article, I thought it would only be best to tribute my Viking Call debut to the one and only: Elizabeth Holmes, the woman who “girbossed” a little too close to the sun.
Holmes got her start at Stanford University where she majored in chemical engineering. It was here where she would first come up with the life changing idea behind her future company, Theranos. After not getting the support she had anticipated from her professors, she dropped out of college in 2003 at 19 years old in order to pursue her dream. She would go on to claim to have created a machine that could perform over 200 different diagnostic tests with a singular drop of blood; this machine, in reality, was nothing but a dream. Despite this, she was able to grow her company’s worth to about 10 billion dollars by 2014 (Forbes).
Even more shocking than her company’s rapid growth is who she was able to manipulate into investing. These investors weren’t just some old business men with a lousy building named after them, they were some of the most recognizable names in America. She even fooled Walgreens! Amazingly enough, with no actual medical degree, or any degree at all, this woman was able to fool literally one of the biggest pharmacies in the world into investing in medical technology that would possibly never work.
Even more intriguing than the technology, was her distinct wardrobe and demeanor. She wore a black, Steve Jobs-esque turtle neck in almost every press appearance she had. Over the years, Holmes’ voice would get progressively lower, easily commanding whatever room she was in. I am not sure if it was some psychological tactic or if she just took up smoking, but whatever it was it worked.
When interviewing a respected teacher of mine about what he thought of Holmes’ actions he said something along the lines of: “This woman shouldn’t be praised, Sophia. She is not a good person.” He just doesn’t get it.
People just don’t understand how big her accomplishments really are. She is one of very few technology executives charged and convicted with fraud. Finally, a woman has made it amongst such a select group of people. It was about time.
But this victory was short lived.
Unfortunately, like Icarus, Holmes pushed herself too far and her magical wings melted under the fiery accusations of medical professionals who actually completed their “degrees”. However, no matter what anyone says, she is a powerful role model for young girls across the globe, showing them that if you wear enough turtle necks and make your voice two octaves lower, you can convince the most powerful individuals into investing every dime they have in something you know would never work. So parents, throw away your daughter’s Barbie dolls, their Doc McStuffins toys, and sit them down with a pen and some paper to watch The Dropout. Pretty soon you’ll have some multi-billionaire dollar scammers on your hands, except this time they won’t get caught. Now that’s what I call #girlbossing.