You will notice something a little unusual about this month's cover: Our featured CEO, the Wing co-founder Audrey Gelman, was photographed when she was eight months pregnant. As best we can tell, this is the first time that a visibly pregnant CEO has appeared on the cover of a mainstream business magazine.
In some ways, that historic omission is not too surprising: Until recently, there were relatively few women CEOs anywhere. And those women who did make it to the top rungs of the corporate ladder had often been forced to choose between motherhood and their careers. One male tech CEO in 1992 lamented his college-graduate daughter's options in a speech entitled "A Pregnant CEO--in Whose Lifetime?"
The answer, as this cover makes abundantly clear, is "ours." Senior writer Christine Lagorio-Chafkin profiles the dramatic growth of the Wing, as well as other co-working spaces and professional networks aimed at women. Almost no one, including Gelman and her co-founder, Lauren Kassan, anticipated how much demand there would be for their service. That demand is about more than working while pregnant, of course, but the overwhelming response--even from women who don't use the Wing--suggests a long-standing need to reshape the workplace around women's schedules and priorities.
The story is the perfect anchor for Inc.'s Female Founders 100 list. Compiled under the direction of editor-at-large Maria Aspan, the list catalogs the most exciting and innovative female-led companies in America. They range from Jazzercise, whose legendary founder, Judi Sheppard Missett, is 50 years into her founder's journey, to Fetch Robotics, whose CEO, Melonee Wise, aims to transform workplaces with increased automation.
We're not certain exactly what the female-led future will look like, but we guarantee that the impressive founders on this list are building it.