Before joining SeeHer in April, Jeannine Shao Collins was the Co-founder, CEO at Girl Starter, a trans-media and technology company that uses the power of entertainment to activate girls in entrepreneurship and business leadership (first inspired by Jeannine’s daughter, who wanted to take action and create solutions), and Chirish5, a media consulting sponsorship practice. She was also EVP and Group Publisher of MORE magazine and EVP, Chief Innovation Officer at Meredith 360°. As we prepare to celebrate the end of a particularly challenging year, we sat down to discuss SeeHer’s accomplishments during 2021 and her belief in the mission.
My parents were born in Shanghai, escaped the Cultural Revolution, and came to the United States from Hong Kong. My mother came here for college and was the only minority, international student in her all-girls Catholic college. She dreamed about going into business and was a business major.
Upon graduation, she was awarded a scholarship to go to the University of Chicago’s business school. But she turned it down to marry my father and become a homemaker. She didn’t see anyone like her going to business school, so she didn’t have the confidence to go. If she had seen images that reflected her in media, she likely would have pursued her dreams. She had no role models.
My mother had regrets about that decision. She told me that she would be someone if she were born into a different generation. Of course, she was someone: she was my mother. I loved her and might not be here if she had made another decision. Ultimately, her dreams of becoming an executive became mine, and my entire career has been dedicated to providing content that lifts women up, so they can realize their potential.
I want my daughter Julia and her generation to feel seen in their fullness. I want them to see endless possibilities. I want women and girls to take risks, grow and support each other, fail forward, have faith, and learn. I want them to be brave, try something new, go for a promotion, start a business, innovate.
Since media has the unique power to shape how we see ourselves and how we see others, it’s critical we ensure that all women and girls are represented and portrayed accurately. As a movement, we are part of the solution. When I look back on how we activated our mission this year, there is a lot to be grateful for:
- SeeHer celebrated its fifth anniversary; membership has grown to nearly 100 marketers, agencies, and media companies. A catalyst for change, harnessing the collective power of the entire marketing and media ecosystem, we continue to expand our global footprint.
- SeeHer played a significant part in ANA’s Global Day of Learning, which had over 8,000 attendees from 80 countries.
- We made progress on our verticals, SeeHer in Sports and SeeHer Hear Her. We continued work on the Sports Scorecard and look forward to activating around the 50th Anniversary of Title IX. We teamed with iHeartRadio on International Women’s Day with the premiere of“iHeartRadio and SeeHer Hear Her Present: Celebrating Women in Music,” a one-hour special event featuring Cardi B, Gwen Stefani, and Kelsea Ballerini.
- We launched the first two custom #WriteHerRight Storytelling Guides, one for Black Female Characters and one for Latina Characters, in partnership with OWN and NBCUniversal Telemundo respectively. We’re planning Guides for Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders, LGBTQIA+ people, and kids. It’s essential to use an intersectional lens in all content development.
- We have the largest global database of GEM®-tested ads, 180,000 and growing. By testing, we track progress and hold ourselves accountable.
- Next year we will have a larger global footprint in collaboration with founding SeeHer partner The Female Quotient (The FQ).
I am grateful to the SeeHer collective for their commitment to the movement and can’t wait to see what the next five years will bring.