The World’s Most Powerful Women: June 19

Jun 19, 2017

The New Yorker's Jia Tolentino writes that in the sexual assault trial of Bill Cosby—deemed a mistrial as the jury stood deadlocked on Saturday— the comedian's lawyers argued that the changing public discourse around sexual assault put Cosby at a disadvantage. They implied, she writes, "that female accusers have developed an unfair, outsized power against men."

Indeed, the climate surrounding sexual assault has changed to the point where repeated allegations against a man can diminish his trustworthiness and tarnish his reputation. (Dozens of women have accused Cosby, one of America's most famous entertainers, of sexual misconduct, but the trial sought to adjudicate just one woman's claims.)

But this shift has not tipped the scales in the opposite direction, Tolentino writes. "To many people—to an average group of people containing seven men and five women, say—the female accuser still seems implicitly untrustworthy, too."

For further evidence of this, look no farther than reports earlier this month that former Uber executive Eric Alexander obtained the medical records of a woman in India who was raped by an Uber driver in 2014. Her attacker was eventually convicted and sentenced to life in prison, but Alexander reportedly shared her file with other executives to back up his theory that her claims might be false and part of a setup by Uber's Indian rival Ola. The victim is now suing the ride-hailing company and several of its executives for defamation, intrusion into private affairs, and public disclosure of private facts.

While society has perhaps become more receptive to hearing women's complaints of sexual assault, and more victims have mustered the courage to come forward, they still lack—both culturally and legally, Tolentino argues—the benefit of the doubt.

@clairezillman

EUROPE/MIDDLE EAST/AFRICA

Another test for Theresa

U.K. PM Theresa May is responding to yet another suspected terrorist attack today as a  van mounted a sidewalk around midnight and struck a group of people near a mosque in north London, killing at least one person and injuring ten others. She described the incident as "terrible," adding: "All my thoughts are with those who have been injured, their loved ones and the emergency services on the scene."

BBC

Quitting in Qatar

Dana Shell Smith, the U.S. ambassador to Qatar, came under scrutiny last month for a tweet that seemed to criticize President Donald Trump following his firing of FBI Director James Comey. "Increasingly difficult to wake up overseas to news from home, knowing I will spend today explaining our democracy and institutions," she wrote. Last week, Shell Smith announced she is stepping down from her post.

Atlantic

Making history, two times over

Serbia is not known for its gay-friendly policies; more than half of its residents consider homosexuality a “sickness.” Nevertheless, President Aleksandar Vucic made history last week, naming Ana Brnabic prime minister. If approved this week, she'll become a double first: the country's first female and first openly gay head of government.

Washington Post

THE AMERICAS

Rose's resistance

Instead of turning away from political discord, as many corporate giants have, Patagonia CEO Rose Marcario has run toward it. The outdoor apparel company has pushed back against the Trump agenda by donating some sales to environmental causes and threatening to sue the administration to protect public lands.

Huffington Post

Constructive feedback

Rand Construction chief executive Linda Rabbitt is one of Washington, D.C.’s only female CEOs in the construction sector. Last fall, she started a leadership training program at her company geared toward women that focuses more on coping with the current culture than on trying to change it. “At a certain point you have to accept the reality of the playing field you’re on, and if you can’t do that, you can always find a different playing field,” she says.

Washington Post

Above board

The New York Times has the story of how media mogul Arianna Huffington has filled the leadership void at Uber, becoming its most influential independent board member with behind-the-scene moves such as helping recruit Nestle's Wan Ling Martello as a director and Apple Music's Bozoma Saint John as chief brand officer.

New York Times

ASIA-PACIFIC

Mounting a comeback

Jockey Michelle Payne, the first female rider to ever win the Melbourne Cup (which she did in 2015), is preparing for her debut at the Royal Ascot in Britain next week. The race will mark her comeback from a serious injury that kept her from competing in last year's event. 

BBC

A female foreign minister

The new South Korean President Moon Jae-in has appointed the country's first female foreign minister. He tapped former United Nations policy adviser Kang Kyung-wha for the role yesterday. One of her first duties will be to prep for a bilateral summit between Moon and Trump later this month. 

Bloomberg

Nuclear options

For more than a year, American diplomats have held secrets talks with North Korea's top nuclear negotiator Madam Choi Sun Hee. She was a major player in nuclear and missile negotiations during the Bill Clinton and George W. Bush administrations.

Wall Street Journal

IN BRIEF

Why Girl Scouts make great cybersecurity hackers

Fortune

Marine Le Pen's lost luster could signal the far right's retreat from France and beyond

New York Times

Sweden’s gender-neutral preschools produce kids who are more likely to succeed

Quartz

Alice Waters to Jeff Bezos: ‘Unprecedented opportunity to change our food system’

Fortune

PARTING WORDS

"[T]he truth needs no defense."

—Stephanie March, actor and philanthropist, on the best advice her dad ever gave her.

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