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The Broadsheet: November 10th

Good morning, Broadsheet readers. For the first time ever, America’s next attorney general could be an African-American woman, while the NBA got its second female franchise president. Read on to learn why baby number two is typically harder on mom than on dad. Have a great Monday!


 Meet the new AG? President Obama nominated Loretta Lynch, head federal prosecutor for the Eastern District of New York, to become the next U.S. Attorney General. The nomination is viewed by many on Capitol Hill as the least controversial pick of the reported finalists. Obama said it is “hard to be more qualified for this job than Loretta.” Time


• The Obama whisperer. Valerie Jarrett holds “one of the broadest and most expansive roles that I think has ever existed in the West Wing,” a source told the New Republic in an expansive feature from the magazine’s 100th anniversary issue. A senior advisor to President Barack Obama, Jarrett is seen as one of the closest allies to the President and insiders described her job as “nothing less than to reflect the most authentic version of Barack Obama back at himself.”   New Republic

GM switch up. The Detroit automaker ordered 500,000 replacement ignition switches in mid-December of last year, according to emails viewed by The Wall Street Journal. The switches were ordered nearly two months before GM notified federal safety regulators of the problem. CEO Mary Barra claims that she did not know about the ignition-switch defect until later that month.  WSJ

• Basketball boss. Gillian Zucker has been named president of business operations of the Los Angeles Clippers, which recently was purchased by ex-Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer. Zucker now is the second female chief executive or president in major U.S. professional sports. The other is the LA Lakers’ Jeanie Buss.  LATimes

• Why Dilma Rousseff will succeed. Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff was re-elected just when the world’s fifth-largest nation is in desperate need of an economic reboot. “This is a woman who lived under harsh circumstances, was constantly on the move. This defined her personality and her character. She’s a tough woman with a strong personality,” Cassia Carvalho, executive director of the Brazil-U.S. Business Council Executive Director, told Fortune’s Nina Easton on her weekly podcast, “Smart Women, Smart Power.”  Fortune

• A first for Wendy Clark. Coke’s president of sparkling brands and strategic marketing will become the first marketer to chair a jury at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity.  AdAge

Show me the money. Anu Duggal of the FemaleFoundersFund says her firm is closing in on its $5 million target to invest in seed-stage startups launched by women. Last year, roughly 13% of venture capital deals involved companies co-founded by women. WSJ


Turning your mentor into your sponsor

This weekend I was back at my alma mater – Duke University – for a gathering of graduates pursuing a career in media. While back on campus, I spoke with several current students grappling with the sometimes-frightening decision of what they’ll do after college.

While the conversations were as diverse as the students themselves, I witnessed a common tenor emerge. Namely, several female Dukies asked me how to find a mentor.

As I thought back to my own personal circle of advisors – as well as the many interviews I’ve done with executives on the topic – I realized the answer isn’t a simple one. In fact, while seeking out mentors can be critical to personal development, I am hearing more and more powerful women talk about the importance of finding a sponsor as well.

“The primary difference [between a mentor and a sponsor] is that a mentor will listen and speak with you, while a sponsor will talk about you,” Anna Beninger, the director of research at Catalyst told me earlier that week on a panel I moderated at Dell World. The distinction may sound quite small, but it’s significant. Mentors act as a sounding board and a resource, while sponsors are a strategically-placed champion who advocates on your behalf for promotions and raises. Sponsors tend to spur career advancement at a much faster rate than mentors, according to Catalyst’s research.

While men and women are equally likely to acquire a mentor, women are less likely to ask their mentors for concrete ways to help them with specific goals. On the same panel discussion, State Street’s Nasrin Rezai said the loosely defined nature of mentorship is more comfortable for many women who may be turned off by the transactional nature of acquiring a sponsor. More men, in her experience, have no problem directly asking a higher up to advocate on their behalf and “we should learn from that,” she added.

Despite the somewhat black and white roles that a “mentor” or a “sponsor” may serve in your career, some of the best sponsorships initially start out as mentorships, Sanyin Siang, the founding executive director of the Fuqua/Coach K Center on Leadership and Ethics, told me over coffee on Sunday. The conversational nature of a mentorship allows potential sponsors to get to know young talent before sticking their neck out by advocating for them at work. Women are great at cultivating lasting relationships, she added, and the key is just raising your hand as a mentee when you need something more from the relationship than just advice.

So, as you can imagine, my answers to the students weren’t exactly as clear as answers in their textbooks. Yet I do think it’s obvious that while mentors can be great, not shying away from turning that mentor into a sponsor is essential.

What’s your take on the mentorship/sponsorship debate? Tweet at me @CFair1 with #Broadsheet and your thoughts.


• The ups and downs of paternity leave. Fathers who take weeks off work after having a child are found to have a more involved relationship with their kid for years to come. At the same time, the break from work is likely to have a long-term negative effect on the man’s career. In other words, “men are now facing the same calculus that women have for decades,” writes New York Times reporter Claire Cain Miller. NYTimes

Why baby No. 2 is harder on mom than dad. Research suggests women are much more likely to experience a decrease in happiness after having their second child than men are because moms feel more overwhelmed.  FiveThirtyEight

We now know everybody fails. FailCon, a one-day conference in San Francisco celebrating failure, was a huge hit in Silicon Valley for the past four years, but this year’s event was canceled. Why? The importance of failure has become such a pervasive topic that FailCon didn’t seem necessary anymore, according to event founder Cassandra Phillipps. NYTimes

• What’s the future of women in combat? The Marines are putting 400 men and women through an experimental training program with the hopes of answering that question. The program seeks to set gender-neutral standards for the most physically-demanding jobs. Skeptics say women can’t handle the hardest ground-combat jobs, but the program will need to prove they can’t perform a particular combat job before women are excluded from the assignment. WSJ


10 takeaways from the war on, by and for women  Bloomberg

7 biz books you can read over one lunch Fast Company

Female bobsledder could race with the men NYTimes

Twitter teams with women’s group to fight online harassment  LATimes

6 steps to returning to work after having a baby  Fast Company

What happened to Wendy Davis?  Slate


I always have self-doubt, even now to some extent. And I don't power through, actually. I just let myself feel whatever the doubt is. I can always recover.

Yukiko Yamashita, a developmental biologist and MacArthur “Genius Grant” fellow, on succeeding as a woman among mostly male scientists.