Our Friend of the Week – Sophia Yen
Sophia Yen is co-Founder and Chief Medical Officer of Pandia Health, a brilliant new startup focused on birth control prescription and delivery. We first met Sophia at a luncheon with Gloria Steinem and have long admired her tireless efforts as an advocate for women’s reproductive rights and women’s rights in general. In addition to her superhero qualities and serious mission, she also has a precocious sense of humor and knows how to have fun.
Your City: Sunnyvale, CA
Your What: “The 2016 Prius – it self parallel parks!! It’s like magic. And it gets 50+ miles/gallon. Again magic! And Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturizer Broad Spectrum SPF 20. I’m not a makeup girl. I don’t like sunblock. But I need sunblock. So this covers my sunspots and protects my skin. Isn’t heavy feeling, doesn’t block my pores. No smell. Yay!”
1. Nickname: The birth control, SheHero, Silver Ribbon lady. The one who wears the uterus necklace.
2. What’s your short story? I’ve always wanted to be a doctor since I was young because I love science and I like people. I developed a passion for birth control and reproductive rights when I saw that teen pregnancies were ruining young women’s futures. In medical school, I discovered Adolescent Medicine (a sub-specialty of pediatrics/internal medicine/family medicine) which allowed me to do outpatient gynecology without having to do surgery and deliver babies. My sorority sister brought me in to co-found SheHeroes because of my expertise in adolescents. SheHeroes provides free online videos profiling women in areas where women are underrepresented (which is pretty much everything except for teachers and nurses). The target audience is 3rd-6th graders to catch them before they “trim their tree of possibilities.” The goal is to show youth that women can be in any profession as long as they work hard. We’ve done research showing that the videos help change the mindset of boys and girls, opening them to the idea that a woman can be a surgeon, police officer, etc.
3. What’s your jam? Confident by Demi Lovato is a great uplifting song. I love to listen to Justin Timberlake, Beyonce, and Meghan Trainor (Girl Power! Positive Body Image!).
4. What motivates you? My daughters. I want to make sure they grow up in a world that is safe, clean, sustainable and that they have equal rights and equal pay as men and are seen, treated and welcomed as equals. “Make the world a better place.”
5. Who do you think you’d have great friend chemistry with? Samantha Bee – her feminist politics, Emma Watson – feminist for her work with #HeForShe, Gloria Steinem – feminist. People who speak up about injustice and work to fix what’s wrong.
6. What qualities do your favorite friends have in common? Loyal, you can call on them anytime for help, networkers, smart, honest/blunt/ tell it like it is, love food.
7. What’s the smartest, most inspiring, awesome thing you’ve read, watched, or listened to? Malcolm Gladwell’s article “John Rock’s Error.” He writes about how menstruation is optional and that “incessant menstruation” is not natural. My new feminist agenda is to teach people that periods are optional. The only reason we grow the uterine lining is to accept an embryo. If you aren’t trying to get pregnant, why bother doing that? We grow that lining, shed that lining, and pop out an egg every month. Why do that if you aren’t trying to get pregnant? The turning over of the lining and popping out more eggs than natural puts us at risk for endometrial and ovarian cancer. Women’s quality of life is much better without periods. I’ll explain more in a future blog piece on PandiaHealth.
8. What whets your appetite? Dessert! Cupcakes from Kara’s (b/c I love butter cream), doughnuts from Sidecar in LA and The Chocolate Garage, Sunday Tea at Charles Chocolates, a 3 course prix-fixe dessert at Chikalicious in NY, Atelier Crenn (the only 2 star Michelin by a woman in the US) and a good fancy massage at the Grand Wailea in Maui.
9. What’s next on your To Do List? I want to be the 1st surgeon general to say “masturbation” without being asked to resign. (President Bill Clinton asked former Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders to resign because of that. She was the 1st African-American Surgeon General). My platform would be to prevent unplanned teen pregnancies by providing comprehensive sexuality education and confidential reproductive health services and inspiring young women they have better things to do than to be pregnant as teens. I also have experience and connections in obesity prevention and treatment.
10. How are you friends with Gina + Amy? I haven’t had the pleasure of meeting Amy in person yet, but hope to soon! Gina, I’ve known as a supporter of women’s rights and reproductive rights. We’ve spent time together meeting Wendy Davis and hearing from the Center for Reproductive Rights.
11. What’s the single best piece of advice you’ve ever received?“ Don’t be afraid to ask. If you don’t ask, you won’t get. The worst they can do is say, ‘No.'” from my mother, Hon. Ho-Tzu Chuang Yen, former member of Taiwan’s Legislative Yuan representing the Democratic Progressive Party. And similarly from my father, Dr. Yung-Tsai Yen (“not a real doctor but a PhD” as the joke goes in my family.) who told me “There’s no such thing as a stupid question.” My mom was teaching me to be fearless. To go for it. To not be afraid of rejection. “No” is not a bad thing. Not asking is a missed opportunity. My dad was teaching me to always question, to love to learn, and it’s okay to admit you don’t know it all.