Good morning, Broadsheet readers! Grace Donnelly here, filling in for Claire and Kristen. America’s student debt crisis breaks a new record, Miss America cancels the swimsuit competition, and the fashion industry remembers Kate Spade. Have a short Wednesday!
• Deep in debt. Student debt in the United States has reached a staggering $1.5 trillion for the first time, and women hold a disproportionately large percentage of it. Writes Fortune’s Polina Marinova:
The problem is only exacerbated by the fact that men out-earn women in their careers, stretching the time it takes to pay down loans.
The higher education bubble, which is one-sixth of the U.S. economy, “will likely burst with the force of all previous catastrophes combined,” veteran investor Jim Rogers and former academic dean Robert Craig Baum wrote in a commentary piece for Fortune.
And when it does, it’s women who will be holding the largest chunk of the tab.
ALSO IN THE HEADLINES
• Swimsuits are canceled. The Miss America Organization will no longer require contestants to participate in a swimsuit competition—a staple of the pageant since its inception—Gretchen Carlson announced Tuesday. “It’s what comes out of their mouths that we care about,” said Carlson, a former Miss America herself who now heads the organization’s board of trustees.
• Remembering Kate Spade. The 55-year-old fashion designer was found dead Tuesday in an apparent suicide. Though Spade had not been involved with her namesake company for more than a decade, the brand, which was acquired by Coach in 2017, offered condolences: “Our thoughts are with her family at this incredibly heartbreaking time. We honor the beauty she brought into this world,” the brand account tweeted upon the news of her death. She founded the iconic business with her husband Andy in 1993.
• The SEC names first crypto czar. The Securities and Exchange Commission named Valerie Szczepanik as associate director of the Division of Corporation Finance and the senior adviser for digital assets and innovation on Monday. She’ll be responsible for advising the agency on how U.S. securities laws apply to emerging digital asset tech like cryptocurrencies and initial coin offerings. Szczepanik joined the SEC in 1997 and most recently served as an assistant director in the division of enforcement’s cyber unit.
• Weinstein Watch. At an arraignment in New York City on Tuesday, former film producer Harvey Weinstein pleaded not guilty to charges of rape and a criminal sex act. “He has denied these charges and intends to fight them,” his lawyer Benjamin Brafman said. “These cases have created a firestorm of publicity. My job is to defend specific allegations of sexual misconduct, not the issue of the Hollywood casting couch over the last 30 or 100 years.” Weinstein is due back in court on July 20.
MOVERS AND SHAKERS:
**Editor’s note: This story has been updated to correct the spelling of Maggie Timoney’s name.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
• The pantsuit legacy. The number of women running for public office this year broke records, but the unspoken dress code for female candidates remains rigid. “Focusing on what women are wearing is one way of reinstating a gender hierarchy and a way of diminishing women’s capabilities,” Peter Glick, a social sciences professor at Lawrence University, told Racked. “Women who are threatening it by entering traditionally male-dominated spheres, like politics, are targeted.”
• Flying boys. The aviation industry is even more of a boys’ club than most; maybe that’s why Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker thinks women couldn’t do his job (though he did apologize for the sexist comments after public pressure). Women hold just 3% of CEO positions in aviation, compared with 12% in other industries, according to the International Air Transport Association.
• Germany’s pay gap problem. While Germans are enjoying record-low unemployment and robust economic growth, women in the country face one of the worst gender pay gaps in Europe. The government implemented new wage transparency measures in January, but experts say they are unlikely to help the problem since the law puts responsibility on individual employees to request compensation information.