Good morning, Broadsheet readers! Valentina (@valzarya) here. Another former Uber engineer comes forward with allegations of sexism, a Wall Street dynasty might be coming to an end, and culture critics ponder female feuds. Have a productive Monday.
• Reflecting on female feuds. With the premiere of the Feud series Sunday night—the first season of which is based on the notorious rivalry between iconic actresses Bette Davis and Joan Crawford in 1962—a number of journalists pondered the question of why we are so fascinated with rivalries between women. W Magazine‘s Vanessa Lawrence asks: “Is it simply a patriarchal device made to hold women back from self-empowerment by pitting them against each other in petty arguments? Or is there, embedded in the in-fighting, a sobering lesson in how women must claw for what little space is offered them in a still male-dominated world, even at the expense of their own sex?”
It can be argued that Davis and Crawford’s rivalry exemplifies both ideas. “You could write a history of women in Hollywood—in its glory and shame, and with all its attendant ageism and sexism—by charting Davis and Crawford’s careers,” writes the New York Times‘ Manohla Dargis. “Much like the suffering heroines they sometimes played, female stars triumphed and endured but also helped sustain a white, male-dominated system, a gilded-cage existence that at least some female viewers would have understood.”
Lawrence also points out that there is a potential upside—and motivating factor—to two women battling it out to be the best: “the notion that two competitors of equal merit help push each other towards greater heights than they would scale individually, sans acrimony.” Viewed through this lens, feuding can almost seem beneficial. However, as Lawrence writes, “in order for women to fight (and fight each other) on the same plane as their male counterparts, they need to scale those levels of success in the first place, a path paved with many failed attempts.”
ALSO IN THE HEADLINES
• Emma explains feminism. A controversy has sprung up around a photo of Emma Watson in Vanity Fair, in which she appears topless save for a crocheted cape. The photo led critics to question her commitment to feminism and call Watson, an outspoken advocate of gender equality and founder of the UN’s HeForShe campaign, a hypocrite. In response, the actress delivered a blistering defense: “Feminism is about having a choice. It’s not a stick with which to beat other women. It’s about freedom, it’s about liberation, it’s about equality.”
• Another week, another accusation. Another former Uber engineer has stepped forward with sexism and harassment allegations against the tech company. On Friday, Keala Lusk wrote a Medium post about how a (female) manager refused to accept feedback, did not permit Lusk to work from “anywhere other than my desk,” and told her she was not progressing in her career because she wore tank tops to work.
• A dynasty’s denouement? Wall Street icon Alexandra Lebenthal is nearing a deal to sell her eponymous financial-services firm. The Lebenthal name is one of the oldest on Wall Street, with roots that trace back to 1925. Now, the firm faces allegations that it owes various debts totaling millions of dollars to investors. The potential deal to sell Lebenthal Holdings—comprised of a capital markets unit and an asset management unit—may come as soon as this month.
• Women of The Times. New York Times public editor Liz Spayd points out that despite three women being appointed to the newspaper’s masthead in recent weeks, it is still sorely lacking in female leadership. “Women have skidded down the power structure since Jill Abramson was dismissed as executive editor three years ago, with fewer females leading big news departments and fewer coming up the pipeline,” she writes. “Thus, fewer women decide what big stories are assigned, what broad coverage priorities are set, and what a re-envisioned Times should look like.”
New York Times
• What HRC and KC have in common. The New York Times‘s Susan Chira writes about how similar some of the criticisms leveled against Kellyanne Conway are to those that were lobbed against Hillary Clinton during her presidential run. Both women have been criticized for their wardrobe choices and hairstyles and have been described as witches (as well as another word that rhymes). “Misogyny, it seems, remains a bipartisan exercise,” Chira writes. “Whatever legitimate criticisms can be leveled at each woman, it’s striking how often that anger is expressed using the same sexist themes, from women as well as men.”
New York Times
• Salutations from Singapore. This Tuesday and Wednesday some of the world’s most influential thought leaders in industrial and product design, architecture, digital experience, and other disciplines are gathering in Singapore for the Innovation by Design Conference. They will discuss how the revolution in design thinking is unlocking new opportunities for growth—and Fortune is helping to lead the conversation. One prominent speaker on the agenda is Chelsia Lau, chief designer at the Shanghai Advanced Studio for Ford Motor Co., who will talk about her approach to giving consumers what they want.
MPW INSIDER MONDAYS
Each week, Fortune asks our Insider Network—an online community of prominent people in business and beyond—for career and leadership advice. Here’s some of the best of what we heard last week.
• Sweet rewards. Truth Initiative president and CEO Robin Koval says to always acknowledge your employees’ individual accomplishments, even if they’re small. You’d be surprised as to how far a little celebratory cake will take you in building a collaborative atmosphere, she writes.
• To their benefit. Yes, millennials do want perks, says Suzanne Dowd Zeller, chief human resources officer for Allianz Life. Companies should consider offering benefits like pet insurance, on-site childcare, and even paid sabbaticals if they really want to attract the best talent.
• Live your brand. Livestrong VP Jess Barron says that if you’re trying to build your personal brand, you need to look the part. She wears athleisure pieces like running shoes or yoga pants to the office, emphasizing her investment in healthy living.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
• A praiseworthy project. Vogue marked its 125th anniversary by photographing American women coast to coast. In a note accompanying what became “15 portfolios of video and portraiture,” the magazine editors write: “There is nothing in what follows that was intended as a response to the presidency of Donald Trump or to the women’s movement that has gained force in its wake. And yet, so much has changed since we began initial photography, and so quickly.” I highly recommend checking out a few of the features. My personal favorite is “Northern Exposure.”
• Paula on the pod. With Paula Schneider as company chief, American Apparel filed for bankruptcy, combatted 50 lawsuits, cut 30% of expenses, and so much more. On this week’s episode of the Fortune Unfiltered podcast, Schneider talks about her experience leading the struggling retailer, what it was like to work with her mentor Angela Ahrendts, her thoughts on workplace harassment, and her career advice to her daughters.
• The retirement gap. A new report from the National Institute on Retirement Security finds that—surprise, surprise—women earn less income during retirement than men. For women age 65 and older, their income is typically 25% lower than that of men. As men and women age, the gap widens to 44% by age 80. Even more depressing: women were 80% more likely than men to be impoverished at age 65 and older, while women age 75 to 79 were three times more likely to fall below the poverty level than men the same age.
New York Times
• Tina tells all. Tina Brown is writing a new book that chronicles her eight years as editor-in-chief of Vanity Fair. The autobiography, which will be called The Vanity Fair Diaries, will “cover the inner workings of Vanity Fair and Condé Nast in the ’80s, Brown’s journey to the top as a woman in a male-dominated atmosphere, and her personal life with husband Sir Harold Evans—a British newspaper editor—and their two children.”
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