In an interview with the BBC, Virgin Money CEO Jayne-Anne Gadhia, one of the U.K.'s most prominent businesswomen, broke one of the lingering taboos for corporate chief executives when she spoke openly about her depression.
For the first time, Gadhia publicly revealed her struggle with postpartum depression following the 2003 birth of her daughter.
"[My husband] had given up his job and we had only me earning, a new mouth to feed and I remember feeling completely out of control because what I wanted to achieve—that is, packing up work and staying with my child—was unachievable," she said.
Gadhia said she felt "hopeless" at a time when people expected her to be "happy and thrilled." She eventually consulted a doctor and clinical tests confirmed that her depression was serious.
Working shorter hours and exercise helped put her life back into "balance." The year she implemented a healthier work-life balance was also the year when she earned the highest bonus of her career.
Few corporate executives—especially female ones—have talked so candidly about their mental health. Yet women with in positions of authority exhibit more depressive symptoms than women in other jobs, according to a 2014 study by researchers at University of Texas at Austin. The opposite is true for men.
Tetyana Pudrovska, who co-authored the study, told me she attributes the findings to "the problem of legitimacy" that women confront in the workplace. They "face resistance, since their power is not consistent with what we think the norms are," she said. Women in power are also caught in a "double bind," expected to express both femininity and assertiveness. If they fail to balance those two qualities, they're criticized for either being too docile and incompetent or too bossy.
Meanwhile, men benefit from job authority since their power is considered legitimate and natural. "They don't have to overcome as much resistance and stereotypes," Pudrovska said.
Gadhia said there's still a culture of not talking about mental health, especially as it relates to work. "I don't want to get to a place where we've got everybody crying on each other's shoulders," she told the BBC. But, she says, organizations must support employees who want to talk about such challenges and know how to react.
"If someone turns up to work on crutches with a broken leg, it is easier to sympathize or empathize or help," she said. "But when you can't see it, I think that's much harder."
It's Miller time
Gina Miller, the British investment manager who successfully challenged the U.K. government on the invocation of Article 50, is launching an initiative to support candidates opposed to a hard Brexit. The group, Best for Britain, will debut next week with the aim of promoting parliamentary candidates invested in securing a “meaningful” vote for Westminster on the terms of the U.K.’s exit from the EU. “We have to do what we can in the time available. We need to re-energize people about the importance of voting tactically,” Miller said.
Putting faces to names
Election authorities in Algeria have ordered political parties to display the faces of female candidates on campaign materials after some posters represented women running for office as blank, hijab-wearing avatars. An election official called the practice of depicting female candidates as blank spaces illegal. Women must make up between 20% to 50% of candidates on electoral lists.
21st Century Fox, the parent company of Fox News, announced that it has cut ties with Bill O’Reilly following a string of sexual harassment allegations against the cable host. O’Reilly has repeatedly denied the claims. Fox had been facing weeks of mounting pressure to remove O’Reilly, whose show, The O’Reilly Factor, was the top cable news show in 2016 and generated $446 million in advertising revenue.
Out of time
An all-male panel of legislators in Maryland failed to pass a bill that would have allowed women who have children from instances of rape to prevent their rapists from claiming parental rights. The Rape Survivor Family Protection Act was introduced by Rep. Kathleen Dumais and was meant to be considered on the last day of the State’s General Assembly, but the legislators reportedly ran out of time. The Assembly will not reconvene until January 2018.
Leaving the law
Despite the best efforts of big law firms to retain women with generous benefits packages, gender diversity has remained stagnant among the nation’s 200 top law firms, where women make up just 30% of lawyers. New data shows that figure hasn’t budged in five years, and attributes the dismal results to attrition as women leave the workforce before making partner.
The Japanese government is hoping to double the number of women serving in the nation’s male-dominated defense forces through a spate of new initiatives. “It’s not easy to change a long-established institutional culture, but making more active use of female talent is a touchstone for the [Self-Defense Forces’] ability to adapt to a new era,” PM Shinzo Abe said of the effort. He has continued to pursue his “womenomics” agenda to increase the number of women in the workforce.
A downside of India's robust economic expansion and rising wealth is that fewer women are entering the labor force. In the socially conservative culture, well-off families don't send their women out to work, only those that can't make ends meet from just a man's salary do so. Priyanka Kishore, lead Asia economist at Oxford Economics, says without a substantial pick-up in women's labor participation rates, the country appears "ill-placed" to take advantage of its expected working-age population boom.
A third of people hospitalized for assault in Australia are women and girls, half of whom have been attacked by their partners, according to a new report from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. Women in their 30s had the highest rates of assault, and domestic violence was linked to most cases.
News summaries by Linda Kinstler @lindakinstler
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--Australian author Jackie French on how perceptions of women are shaped by the past.