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The World’s Most Powerful Women: September 30

Sep 30, 2016

The importance of role models is almost always mentioned in the ongoing conversation about workplace gender equality. Successful role models inspire up-and-comers and repopulate the pipeline of talent by proving that it can indeed be done.

But the Financial Times challenged the seemingly common-sense principle that successful women are automatically good examples for other women in this piece that's worth a read.

There is some undeniable evidence that high-achieving women wield influence that is overwhelmingly positive. A constitutional amendment in India in 1993, for instance, required village councils to reserve one-third of their seats for women. The rule increased the share of women in local posts dramatically, plus the presence of more female village leaders prompted more women to speak up at meetings and saw more parents encourage their daughters to pursue advanced education.

But there are counterpoints to those sorts of examples. Take the scarcity of women CEOs in the Fortune 500. Their thin ranks support the theory that if the women in leadership posts are mostly white, highly educated—and often childless—they can deter, rather than motivate, other women who do not fit into those molds.

For Brenda Trenowden of the 30% Club, which advocates for more women in senior corporate roles, Step 1 to addressing that problem is acknowledging it. Step 2 sounds easy but is difficult in practice: senior women must talk about their rise to the top "authentically and frankly, warts and all," so other women understand there is no "correct" way to find success.

@clairezillman

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EUROPE/MIDDLE EAST/AFRICA

Real talk

Facebook EMEA VP Nicola Mendelsohn told a conference in London yesterday that her boss Sheryl Sandberg always asks when she's last had a "hard conversation." By encouraging Mendelsohn to tackle tough topics—like diversity and pay inequity—Sandberg is trying to embed discourse on important but sensitive matters "right into the heart of [Facebook's] culture."

Fortune

Top tips

Alison Brittain, chief executive of U.K. conglomerate Whitbread and one of the seven female CEOs in the FTSE 100, shared her tips for other aspiring execs yesterday and explained how her daughter calling her out on wearing lipstick to Costco became an 'aha' moment.

Fortune

Mounting pressure on Merkel

As the financial markets dipped in response to another warning sign of worsening problems at Deutsche Bank yesterday, all eyes shifted to Berlin to see what, if anything, Angela Merkel will do to shore up the lender that faces a multibillion-dollar fine in the U.S. Her office has said the government sees "no grounds" for discussing state funding, but that hasn't quelled speculation of a bailout.

Bloomberg

THE AMERICAS

Elephant in the room

Monica Lewinsky was in the news again yesterday as the Donald Trump campaign considered using her relationship with Bill Clinton as an attack on Hillary. But in a carefully-crafted appearance in London, the one-time White House intern dodged all talk of the election and instead stuck closely to the script she’s followed in recent years, which weaves her personal narrative into a denouncement of Internet clickbait and online abuse.

Fortune

Secret weapon

The New York Times takes a look at the publicity blitz that's engulfed Alicia Machado since Hillary Clinton mentioned Donald Trump's comments about the former beauty queen's weight at the debate on Monday. The popularity of the one-time Miss Universe is a golden opportunity for the Clinton campaign since Machado's story resonates with two of its key constituencies—suburban women and Hispanics.

New York Times

Disarming female guerrillas

Colombia's historic peace deal with the guerrilla group Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia after decades of war means some 7,500 combatants, including about 3,000 women, will demobilize in masse. This story examines what happens next.

The Atlantic

ASIA-PACIFIC

Guns blazing

Renho, the newly-elected leader of Japan's opposition Democratic Party, attacked PM Shinzo Abe's economic and social policies in her first chance to directly challenge him in a Q&A session in the House of Councillors. She said his "Abenomics" package aimed at spurring the economy has failed to live up to its objective of ending Japan's long-term deflationary trend.

Japan Today

IN BRIEF

Hillary Clinton on what she learned from being a mom who works

Fortune

The humbling, humiliating true story of a middle-aged woman in Hollywood

Fortune

Meet the world's youngest commercial airplane captain

Travel + Leisure

Why Trump’s fat shaming affects all working women, not just beauty queens

Money

Actress and activist Emma Watson praises Canadian PM Justin Trudeau for his half-female cabinet

National Post

An interview with Hillary Clinton's former speechwriter Lissa Muscatine

PBS

PARTING WORDS

"All I’m doing is telling the truth, again, and again, and again."

--Eat, Pray, Love author Elizabeth Gilbert on her new romance with her longtime best friend.

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