The World’s Most Powerful Women: July 7

Jul 07, 2017

When companies like Facebook and Apple said in 2014 that they would start covering the cost of egg freezing for women, the backlash was swift.

As Fortune's Leigh Gallagher reported at the time, critics derided the new benefit as "a self-serving move to encourage women to take their eye off the biological clock so that they could double down and work harder throughout their 30s. It was paternalistic, sexist, and a trick to keep women childless and living at the office, all wrapped in the cloak of concern over women’s fertility issues."

But a new study of 150 women who had undertaken elective egg freezing in the United States and Israel found that more than 90% said they were not intentionally postponing their fertility because of education or careers. Rather, they were preserving their fertility because they were single without partners to marry. Women lamented the “missing men” in their lives, viewing egg freezing as a way to buy time while they continued to search for a committed partner.

"[T]here's been this narrative that career women are putting off having children for the sake of their careers," Marcia Inhorn, the study's lead author and a professor of anthropology and international affairs at Yale University, told me. That's incorrect, she says. "They want to be married or at least partnered [before having a child] and they haven't been able to find anyone." Inhorn's unpublished study was presented at the European Society for Human Reproduction and Embryology conference in Geneva this week.

Women in the study were highly educated, with more than 80% having earned at least a graduate degree. Their failure to find a partner, Inhorn surmises, points to the "lopsided college graduation rate," in which more women are graduating from college and advanced degree programs than men.

A 2017 report from the National Center for Education Statistics found that since 2000, degree attainment rates among 25- to 29-year-olds have generally been higher for females than for males at each education level.

One way to resolve this mismatch is to "get boys off to a better start" so more of them obtain higher education, Inhorn says. But a more comprehensive solution may be to update gender roles and what's expected of each sex across the board.

-@clairezillman

EUROPE/MIDDLE EAST/AFRICA

An antidote to the 'axis'

All eyes will be on German Chancellor Angela Merkel starting today as she hosts three of the world's most polarizing heads of state at the G-20 meeting: the U.S.'s Donald Trump, Russia's Vladimir Putin, and Turkey's Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The Wall Street Journal quotes a German lawmaker calling the trio the 'Axis of Testosterone.' All three have become—in different ways—antagonists of Germany. 

Wall Street Journal

A man-free festival

After Sweden's largest music festival, the four-day Bråvalla, was cancelled for next year following reports of sexual assaults at this year's event, Swedish comedian and radio host Emma Knyckare tweeted: “What do you think about putting together a really cool festival where only non-men are welcome?” It would last “until all men have learned how to behave.” What seems to have started as a joke quickly turned into a real possibility. 

Washington Post

All's fair in love and leadership

South African President Jacob Zuma has given the surest sign yet that he'll endorse his ex-wife Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma as his successor as leader of the country's ruling African National Congress party ahead of a December election. Dlamini-Zuma, a veteran of the former liberation movement and former minister, is a frontrunner in the race, yet Zuma's critics suspect he's backing the mother of four of his children because he believes she won't pursue 783 counts of fraud, corruption, and racketeering that he faces.

Financial Times

THE AMERICAS

Highly charged

A female engineer who filed claims of harassment against Tesla says she was fired in retaliation. “They just want to absolutely crush anyone who speaks up,” says A.J. Vandermeyden. “I spoke up, and I was made a sacrificial lamb for it. It’s a scary precedent.” (Tesla says she “falsely attacked” the company in the press.) She also says that other women at the carmaker have voiced similar concerns.

Guardian

Beginner's luck?

The New York Times examines how a series of high-profile interruptions catapulted Sen. Kamala Harris (D–Calif.), elected in November, into the position of Democrats' "the Great Freshman Hope, a telegenic object of daydreaming projection—justified or not—for a party adrift and removed from executive power."

New York Times

Taking stock

Campbell Soup yesterday agreed to buy Pacific Foods—maker of organic broth, soup, and plate-based beverages like almond milk—for $700 million as consumer tastes continue to shift. Campbell's CEO Denise Morrison told Fortune that the acquisition allows the company "to expand into faster-growing spaces."

Fortune

ASIA-PACIFIC

Courage to come forward

Tech entrepreneur Cheryl Yeoh, a native of Malaysia, tells the BBC why she came forward with allegations of sexual harassment against 500 Startups co-founder Dave McClure, who'd by then resigned his post. "People don't want to be judged and if their names that are going to be linked to a sexual harassment case online, very few people are willing to let that tarnish their name," she said. "I'm in a different position, I've done previous work before, I've had publicity online for other good things I've done, so I know my record goes far beyond this and I certainly don't need the publicity for this for myself."

BBC

Not even Plan B

The Metropolitan Assembly election in Tokyo on Sunday that dealt a heavy blow to PM Shinzo Abe's Liberal Democratic Party also left a mark on Renho, the leader of the Democratic Party, which won just 5 of the 127 seats up for grabs. Rather than voting for her party as an alternative to the Shinzo regime, city residents turned to Tokyoites First, the party headed by Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike.

Japan Times

IN BRIEF

Grace Coddington, Naomi Campbell, Kate Moss, and Steve McQueen are new 'British Vogue' new contributors

The Cut

How Christene Barberich, editor-in-chief and co-founder of Refinery29, gets it all done

New York Magazine

To escape sexual violence at home, female migrants must risk sexual violence on the way to Europe

Washington Post

Trump went to Poland and was met by women dressed as handmaids

Huffington Post

Sheila Michaels, who brought ‘Ms.’ to prominence, dies at 78

New York Times

PARTING WORDS

"The most effective way to do it, is to do it."

—Amelia Earhart, whose appearance in a newly unearthed photo suggests she may not have died during her flight around the world.

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