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The Broadsheet: January 15th

Good morning, Broadsheet readers. President Obama today will be backing a policy aimed at helping working parents, and the Duchess of Cambridge is now on Twitter and Instagram. Read on for some insights on why we still have so few female CEOs in 2015. Have a great Thursday.


• A right, not a privilege. President Obama today will call on Congress to pass the Healthy Families Act, a policy that would grant millions of working Americans the ability to earn up to seven days of paid sick leave per year. Ahead of the announcement, presidential advisor Valerie Jarrett wrote in a LinkedIn post that when workers are sick, “the last thing we should do is add guilt, fear, and financial hardship on working parents as they try to do what’s right – while keeping their job.” LinkedIn


• 38% That’s the seemingly low number of adults who hope the U.S. will elect a female president in their lifetime, according to a poll by Pew Research Center. Democratic women were the biggest supporters of getting a woman into the Oval Office (69%) and Republican men were the least supportive (16%).  WSJ

• Warren backs Harris. Senator Elizabeth Warren is officially backing California Attorney General Kamala Harris in her 2016 U.S. Senate race. “Kamala Harris is a smart, tough, and experienced prosecutor who has consistently stood up to Wall Street,” said Warren.  HuffPost

Be aggressive. General Motors CEO Mary Barra is setting lofty revenue and profit targets for the Detroit automaker. “Decisions made over the next year or two are going to significantly affect the direction of the company over the next 10 years,” an analyst told Reuters.   Reuters

Rich women in China? The number of Chinese women in senior management positions has recently doubled and half of the world’s self-made female billionaires are Chinese. Fortune’s Nina Easton explains how ambitious Chinese women fought beyond cultural bias to get where they are today.  Fortune

• Less is more. Diane von Furstenberg knows that customers are overwhelmed by the myriad of options they have while shopping — especially when it comes to luxury. “For me the focus of this year is about the product—making less and make it better,” she said earlier this week. Fortune

• Gone to the dogs. Patricia Arquette, who won a Golden Globe on Sunday for her supporting role in Boyhood, said she pays her dog walker more than she earned for the acting in the film.  Business Insider


Why there are so few female CEOs

It’s not news that the percentage of women taking over Corporate America’s C-suites is climbing at a glacial pace. Yet a report out yesterday by Pew Research Center sheds new light on unconscious bias within the workplace and why the rate of change has been so slow.

Gender doesn’t matter to most. A vast majority of men and women agree that gender does not play a role in a person’s ability to lead a business. Some 80% of men and women surveyed by Pew said that neither men nor women have leadership styles that make them more successful in business. In fact, about one-third of adults (31%) said top female executives may be more honest and ethical than are male execs.

Women are even good for business. There also are evident benefits to having more female leaders, according to respondents. About three in ten Americans surveyed said that having more women leaders in both business and government would do a lot to improve the quality of life for women across the country. Another 41% said having more female leaders would enhance all women’s lives at least somewhat.

But few women are reaching the top. Despite these findings, only 25 companies in the Fortune 500 are run by women. There were no female CEOs in the Fortune 500 20 years ago; since, women have made modest progress in obtaining CEO roles. The low number of female CEOs in the Fortune 500 may be due to gendered stereotypes that pervade the workplace. Pew’s survey found that 34% of the respondents believe that male executives are better than women at assuming risk.

It gets worse when you dig deeper. Here is where things get more dicey. The thinking was similar when Pew asked respondents about specific industries. A significant portion felt that men would do a better job leading technology, oil and gas and finance companies. Perhaps as a result, female Fortune 1000 CEOs are more common in industries like retail and food production.

And few people think it’s easy for women. Despite Pew’s initial finding that gender does not play a role in a person’s ability to lead, most Americans still say it is easier for men to get into top positions in business as well as politics. Two-thirds of Americans overall believe men have an advantage and three-quarters of women say men have a better chance.

Bottom line: Corporate America still isn’t ready.  Pew’s study shows that although men and women may believe female leaders are just as qualified as their male peers, certain stigmas persist. The most alarming finding showed that even in 2015, some 50% of women and 35% of men agree that many businesses aren’t ready to hire women for top executive positions.


• Tackling the problem. Companies like Roche Diagnostics and Royal Bank of Canada are putting their employees through trainings to address unconscious bias against women (and men) in the workplace. “We are trying to ensure that our culture understands how bias exists everywhere, and being aware of it is critical,” said Bridget Boyle, Roche Diagnostics’ vice president of human resources.  Fortune

• Avoid ‘manterruptions.’ Following Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg’s piece about bias against women speaking in meetings, our friends at TIME followed up with a list of ways to avoid being interrupted by a man. Among them: Practice assertive body language, support your female colleagues and implement a ‘no interruption’ rule at work.  TIME

• Royal Tweets. Kate Middleton and Prince William have joined both Twitter and Instagram. But don’t get too excited. So far, the accounts appear to just be a place for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge to post about their official visits and appearances.  Vanity Fair


Why political dynasties are good for women  NYMag

How 6 female entrepreneurs raised venture capital  Fast Company

Why founders aren’t always best for the top job  Fortune

7 surprising things that can help you stop worrying  Fast Company

How Lena Dunham gets dressed for Girls  The Daily Beast


I've never been hurt, but I've hurt people. Some people did go easy on me and then they just didn't because they knew that's not good, that's dangerous. I don't want to be treated like I'm not one of them.

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