Good morning, Broadsheet readers! Getting that first seat is the biggest challenge in board diversity, Neomi Rao is confirmed on the D.C. Circuit, and women in political power face a “serious regression” globally. Have a tremendous Thursday.
• Going in the wrong direction. “A serious regression” is how U.N. General Assembly President María Fernanda Espinosa described the state of women in political power on Tuesday. And the stats prove her point.
New figures from the Inter-Parliamentary Union last week show that the share of female elected heads of state slipped from 7.2% in 2017 to 6.6% in 2018, or 10 out of 153. The percentage of female heads of government also dropped, from 5.7% to 5.2%, equal to 10 out of 193. (Women’s share of parliamentary seats globally, meanwhile, ticked up about one percentage point.)
So what explains the backwards momentum at the leadership level? UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka attributed it to political violence, verbal abuse, and harassment on social media that can discourage women from running for office or torpedo their chances of winning if they enter a race. Such mistreatment “is brutal” and “contributes to the slowing down of women wanting to contest for office,” she said, adding that women and their allies need to “be stronger in pushing back against the pushback ourselves.”
Speaking of, how’s this for pushback: After the European Parliament complained last month that there was a “lack of respect” for gender balance in selecting candidates for prime positions at financial institutions in the EU, European governments are expected to commit to considering gender diversity when picking the next European Central Bank president. The move could boost potential female candidates for the job, such as IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde and Bank of France Deputy Governor Sylvie Goulard, according to Bloomberg.
If gender balance was a factor in the past, it’s not evident in the current line-up of leaders. The heads of the ECB, the European Commission, the European Council, and the European Parliament are all men, but that roster is due for a shake-up after European Parliament elections this spring.
ALSO IN THE HEADLINES
• About Face. Fortune‘s Michal Lev-Ram writes our latest cover story on Facebook. The tech giant’s challenge? To “mollify its critics without destroying its business model.” COO Sheryl Sandberg tells Michal that Facebook’s advertising model is core to its business—and the “hardest to explain.”
• Getting on board. The hardest part about improving women’s representation on boards? Getting women that first seat. Twenty-four percent of women on boards, compared to 17.9% of men, serve in more than one directorship—suggesting that the stats showing improved board diversity may actually be a reflection of the women who are landing second and third directorships, rather than a growing number of women making their way into the boardroom. The company Medidata is an interesting case study: it sought out a first-time female board member as its contribution to solving this problem—and Maria Rivas secured her first seat after contacting the company through LinkedIn.
• Activists charged. Months after women’s rights activists were thrown in prison in Saudi Arabia, the group has been charged. Saudi prosecutors charged the activists with aiding an enemy country, reported to be Qatar. The women were only just informed of the charges against them. At the same time, Iranian human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh was sentenced to 38 years in prison, according to her family. Sotudeh was convicted of “gathering and colluding to commit crimes against national security” and “insulting the Supreme Leader;” she is known for representing human rights defenders, dissidents, and women who protested against being forced to wear headscarves.
MOVERS AND SHAKERS: Jamie Cohen has been promoted to CFO for ANGI Homeservices. Betsy L. Morgan and Trynka Shineman Blake join TripAdvisor’s board of directors. Morgan Stanley promoted Lauren Cummings and Ashley MacNeill to co-head its technology equity capital markets practice in the Americas. Credit Suisse named Lucy Baldwin global head of equity sales. Gaming veteran Jade Raymond has joined Google in an undisclosed role. Jeanine Nicholson is San Francisco’s next fire chief and the first LGBT chief in the city’s history. The Atlantic promoted Adrienne LaFrance to executive editor and Swati Sharma and Sarah Yager to managing editors.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
• Circuit court. Neomi Rao is officially Brett Kavanaugh’s replacement on the D.C. Circuit. The Senate confirmed Rao to the position; Rao faced scrutiny during the confirmation process for writings from college on sexual assault that appeared to blame the victim and from social conservatives who suspected the conservative nominee might be secretly in favor of abortion rights.
• Next generation. Rep. Ilhan Omar is a champion of climate change legislation, but her 16-year-old daughter might be an even stronger climate activist. Isra Hirsi is one of three leaders of the United States’ arm of the International Youth Climate Strike that’s set for Friday. “People of color are disproportionately affected by climate change and that kind of just gets ignored,” Hirsi says.
• K-Pop comes to a stop. A scandal is unfolding in South Korea around K-Pop star Jung Joon-young. Jung has admitted to “illicitly filming women and sharing the videos in group chats online.” Jung’s case follows that of Lee Seung-hyun, known by the stage name Seungri, who quit entertainment after being accused of “offering sexual services” at nightclubs (he denies those allegations).
New York Times
• Elbow grease for oil and gas. In Houston this week is CERAWeek, the biggest industry event for oil and gas. Shell’s U.S. president Gretchen Watkins told Bloomberg during the conference that “hard targets” are needed to advance women in energy. “Diversity can happen more quickly when you put targets in place,” Watkins said of her industry, where only 22% of workers are women.