The Insider: Aminatou Sow
Aminatou Sow is not exactly sure what to put on her business card. It’s a fair question: She is a co-founder of the Tech LadyMafia listserv (yup—exactly as badass as it sounds), she co-hosts the superlative podcast Call Your Girlfriend, and she recently moved to San Francisco to work with the social impact team at Google. Thankfully, we have a lot more space than seven square inches to work with here, and we’ll leave it to Amina to put it to good use.
Q: What was the last Internet thing that made you LOL?
A: I’m obsessed with the “Best Friends” video by Sophia Grace. I want to say it makes me LOL, but it also just makes me feel so good about having best friends and having girlfriends.
Q: Which writers do you trust to tell it like it is?
A: Rebecca Traister. Number one. She’s my go-to for politics and real talk. I also love Irin Carmon, who is fantastic. She is incidentally my old roommate, but that doesn’t mean that I’m biased. She’s the jam. Love Anna Holmes. Love Ann Friedman. Love Jenna Wortham.
Q: What is the last lesson you learned from a female friend?
A: I learned not to be afraid of criticism from people I really respect. I think it’s really important when you do something big and you’re being scrutinized for it to take seriously the critiques of people you think are also smart who mean well—and to not think that that is just run-of-the-mill hate.
Q: Who taught you that?
A: My good friend Lena Dunham. She has good people.
Q: What are your favorite spots in San Francisco so far?
A: I moved to San Francisco in July, but I travel so much for work that I’m basically a tourist here. I will say that I’ve been loving, loving, loving everything in the Mission right now, because it reminds me of Brooklyn. I love this bar called Iron and Gold on Mission Street. They always treat me right. A good bar is all you need. For everything else, there’s the internet.
Q: Whose name would you love to see pop up on the Tech LadyMafia listserv?
A: Judy Smith, the original Olivia Pope. Can you imagine having her on your personal board of directors?
Q: What’s your favorite Taylor Swift song?
A: That’s like asking me to choose my favorite child, and it’s not fair. But I will tell you that right now my favorite Taylor Swift song is “Style.” The beat is so good. It’s obviously about Harry Styles. I want to know exactly where they went when he picked her up at midnight with no headlights. Like, where were you guys going? These are the great mysteries of our time.
Q: Who is your favorite historical troublemaker?
A: I’m obsessed with Shirley Chisholm. She was the first black woman elected to Congress. She was a super-feisty politician and total babe. She was elected from New York in 1968, and then she campaigned for a presidential nomination in 1972. It’s pretty incredible.
Q: Which brands design the kind of clothes that make you happy?
A: I really like Dusen Dusen. Everything that they do puts a ridiculous smile on my face. I love the colors, the structures, the cuts—just everything. I’m in love with Rachel Antonoff forever and ever. I’ve been wearing a lot of Eileen Fisher lately, too, and I will say this: Sensible clothing is for smart women.