Nikki Haley, Janet Yellen's Fangirls, Female Power: Broadsheet for Dec. 11
Good morning, Broadsheet readers! Claire Zillman here, subbing for Val and Kristen. Nikki Haley goes out on a limb, Janet Yellen is a feminist hero, and we examine sexual harassment and female power. Have a fabulous Monday.
• Sexual harassment as an ‘equalizer.’ In the on-going conversation about sexual harassment, the issue of power has repeatedly bubbled up. Women’s lack of power is seen as making them more vulnerable to abuse and women’s gaining it is being peddled as a possible solution. As Val noted last week, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg called out the issue earlier this month—”It’s the power, stupid,” she wrote. Likewise, former President Barack Obama urged more women to enter positions of power, “because men seem to be having some problems these days.” And Ellevest co-founder Sallie Krawcheck wrote that assuming more power in her career made her “a little less fraught to deal with the inevitable.”
But Krawcheck’s op-ed made an important point; that the abuse didn’t stop as she climbed the corporate ladder, she just felt more comfortable addressing it.
Having power doesn’t exempt women from sexual harassment; on the contrary, it seems to welcome abuse.
A 2012 study published in the American Sociological Review found that “workplace power is a significant predictor of harassment for females.”
Female supervisors, the study found, “report a rate of harassment 73% greater than that of nonsupervisors.” Not only that, they also report “a more varied and sustained form of harassment.”
Why? The study suggests that women who diverge from rigid gender expectations by wielding workplace authority are harassed in efforts to “enforce gender-appropriate behavior.”
“When women’s power is viewed as illegitimate or easily undermined, co-workers, clients, and supervisors appear to employ harassment as an ‘equalizer’ against women supervisors,” the study says. “[H]arassment is less about sexual desire than about control and domination.”
But these findings don’t necessarily undercut the idea that putting more women in positions of power will crack down on harassment. The study’s female subjects repeatedly cited isolation as one reason for the harassment. “They’d say, ‘I was the only woman in my company; my colleagues didn’t think women could do this work, they just saw me as being a nag,'” co-author Heather McLaughlin, a sociology professor at Oklahoma State University, told me.
Therefore, if more women collectively enter rungs of management previously reserved for men, abuse could in fact decrease—not necessarily because they have power, but because they have power together.
“I do think that there is safety in numbers,” McLaughlin says.
ALSO IN THE HEADLINES
• Early exit. The White House announced on Friday that Dina Powell, President Trump’s deputy national security advisor, plans to resign early next year. Powell, formerly of Goldman Sachs, is a close ally of Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner and has accompanied the president on trips overseas. The White House said Powell had always planned to work for the administration for one year and then return to her home in New York. Dr. Nadia Schadlow, who currently works on strategy on the staff of National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster, is expected to succeed her. Reuters
• Out on a limb. Nikki Haley, U.S. ambassador to the UN, yesterday departed from a White House stance by saying that the women who’ve accused President Donald Trump of sexual misconduct “should be heard.” The administration, meanwhile, says that all the women are liars and that the matter has been settled since Americans voted Trump into office. Fortune
• Why black mothers die. The high rates of maternal mortality in the U.S. have raised alarm in recent years, and it turns out the disproportionate toll on African Americans women is the primary reason behind it. The data is appalling: a black woman is 243% more likely to die from pregnancy- or childbirth-related causes than a white woman. This report by ProPublica and NPR dives into the reasons why. ProPublica
• Unintended consequences. The U.K. is requiring British companies to report their gender pay gaps as a way to shrink the divide. However, some firms complain that reporting doesn’t capture the full range of possible arrangements that are made with workers (e.g. part-time hours for new mothers). As a result, some fear that the policy is discouraging companies from providing flexible options. Financial Times
MOVERS AND SHAKERS: Kelly Grier has been appointed to the combined post of EY US Chairman and Managing Partner and EY Americas Managing Partner-elect. AirAsia, one of Southeast Asia’s biggest budget carriers, has added Neelofa Noor, a 28-year-old entrepreneur best known for her hijab brand, to its board as a non-executive independent director. Nokia said on Monday that COO Monika Maurer is leaving the company.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
• Her time to shine. “Kirsten Gillibrand’s Moment Has Arrived,” the Politico headline declares. Indeed, the New York senator has focused her political career on the issue of sexual assault, “now,” the site writes, “the world has caught up with her.” Politico
•‘I’m the biggest Janet fangirl.’ Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen, who’s leaving the post in February, almost never talks about her gender or her historic role as the first woman to head the Fed, but she’s become a feminist icon nonetheless. New York Times
• Name your price. In a sign of Trump’s tense relationship with Mitt Romney, the president reportedly asked the former presidential candidate’s niece Ronna Romney McDaniel to stop using her maiden name as she assumed the role of Republican National Committee chair this year. McDaniel has used her maiden name for years but started phasing it out from official RNC communications following Trump’s request. Washington Post
ON MY RADAR
A famous actor told Jessica Chastain to ‘calm down’ after the Harvey Weinstein scandal Vulture
Melania Trump would like to spend the holidays on a deserted island The Cut
Dylan Farrow: Why has the #MeToo revolution spared Woody Allen? L.A. Times
The first women in tech didn’t leave—men pushed them out Wall Street Journal