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Inventing Anna and The Dropout Highlight Struggles Women Face in the Business World

By Ella Malmgren

The Dropout aired on Hulu on March 3, and Inventing Anna aired on Netflix on Feb. 11. These two shows delve into the backstories of how two different women scammed people into investing in their businesses. 

The Dropout showcases the Theranos scandal, starring Amanda Seyfried as Elizabeth Holmes. In 2014, Holmes claimed that her company, Theranos, had the ability to perform supposedly 240 tests with just a drop of blood. This concept immediately drew interest from investors and the public, because if it worked, it would be able to help many patients in need. Holmes became a star in the science industry, and was often compared to Steve Jobs due to her classic black turtleneck look.

However, the science didn’t work, and it was exposed by journalist John Carryrou’s article in The Wall Street Journal in 2015. By interviewing several Theranos employees, Carryrou discovered that testing showed inaccurate results for diagnoses like prostate cancer and pregnancy. 

According to Carryrou, “some of the potassium results at Theranos were so high that patients would have to be dead for the results to be correct.” 

After this exposé was published, Theranos and Holmes’ reputations were squandered, and investors pulled out.

The Dropout follows Holmes’ rise and fall in the science and technology industry, and shows how she scammed people to invest millions of dollars in her product that didn’t work. Holmes also dropped out of Stanford at 19 and immediately invested her college fund into Theranos with very little engineering experience.

Inventing Anna follows the story of Anna Sorokin, a New York City socialite who scammed the rich and elite of New York into investing millions of dollars into the Anna Delvey Foundation, her “passion project.” 

This foundation would serve as a meeting place for wealthy and famous individuals, and feature expensive art pieces and amenities like a sauna room. However, Anna Delvey’s real name is Anna Sorokin, and she wasn’t the German heiress she claimed to be. She immigrated from Russia, and didn’t have the enormous trust fund she claimed to have. 

The mini series follows each of Sorokin’s friends, and how she masterfully scammed each of them. She stole credit cards, and promised many people that she would pay them back for luxurious trips, dinners and clothing, but rarely did. 

Sorokin was arrested in 2017 for not paying back her friend Rachel Williams for a $60,000 trip to Marrakesh. 

Throughout the investigation, it was revealed that she owed over $275,000 to different individuals she scammed. The mini series has been criticized for giving Sorokin fame, her most sought-out objective. 

Women face many challenges when entering the business world. According to Forbes, the top eight hardships that women entrepreneurs face in their industry are “limited funding, balancing responsibilities, fear of failure, inadequate support system, gender inequality,  limited knowledge, unfavorable business environment, and timidity.”

“I feel like half the time my teachers base course material off of men’s success rather than women’s,” said Kristen Quarless, junior marketing major. “When I have a group project, it’s mostly me and the other women doing the work. You have to try harder as a woman to be respected in the industry.”

It is common for women to want to support other women in the business world. In a study conducted by the Harvard Business Review, researchers found that “successful women have high centrality like successful men, but they differ in that they also maintained a close inner circle of female contacts.” 

Sorokin and Holmes were able to prey on this empathy, and used it to scam investors and friends. 

This is specifically noted in Inventing Anna when Nora Radford, a fictional character, invests in Sorokin’s business specifically because she knew the difficulties entrepreneurs face.
According to the BBC, Inventing Anna was watched for 196 million hours last week. The Dropout has also created a lot of buzz on social media, and Jennifer Lawrence is going to star in an upcoming movie about the Theranos scandal called She’s Feeling It. The fascination with young female scammers has grown tremendously, and these two shows highlight the struggles women face when entering the business world.

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