The Broadsheet: December 15th

December 15, 2015, 12:49 PM UTC

Good morning, Broadsheet readers! Serena Williams is SI’s Sportsperson of the Year, Jeanette Rubio—wife of Marco—defies her “former cheerleader” rep, and Angela Merkel backpedals on migrants. Have a wonderful Tuesday.


Serena's year. Sports Illustrated has named tennis pro Serena Williams its Sportsperson of the Year. SI managing editor Chris Stone points out that Williams was selected not only for her athletic prowess but also for "reasons that hang in the grayer, less comfortable ether, where issues such as race and femininity collide with the games." Williams is just the third woman—and first African-American woman—to be named a sole honoree in the award's 61-year history.


 Merkel on migrants. After weeks of criticism from inside her party, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has pledged that she will “markedly reduce” the number of migrants entering the country next year. That's not to say that she's apologizing for her September decision—which she called a "humanitarian imperative"—to urge Germany to accept as many of the refugees as possible. "We'll manage this," promised Merkel.   Fortune

Meet Mrs. Rubio. Jeanette Rubio is often described as "a bubbly former cheerleader who married the star of her high school’s football team." But this NY Times story digs deeper, showing how Jeanette's faith has shaped her relationship with husband and GOP presidential candidate Marco Rubio. New York Times

 Another unicorn stumbles? Fashion e-commerce site Gilt, once valued at over $1 billion, is in advanced talks to be acquired by retailer Saks Fifth Avenue’s parent Hudson’s Bay Company for $250 million. Led by CEO Michelle Peluso, Gilt is the latest female-led unicorn to falter, after Elizabeth Holmes' Theranos came under scrutiny in the wake of a WSJ investigation.  Fortune

Mayer math. The Times' Andrew Ross Sorkin does the math on CEO Marissa Mayer's tenure at Yahoo. He finds that despite Mayer's insistence that the company is in a much better place than when she took the helm three years ago, it is valued as if she hasn’t done much.  New York Times

 Disrupt this. Startups are all about disrupting the status quo, right? Well, not when it comes to the wage gap: A new report finds that women working at startups and other small businesses make 77 cents for every dollar their male counterparts earn—right on par with the overall U.S. pay gap.  Fortune

A glassbreaker gone. Lillian Vernon died on Monday at age 88. She escaped Nazi Germany, created a gift-and-gadget catalog empire that grew to $300 million in annual revenue, and headed the first woman-owned company listed on the American Stock Exchange. One of her two sons, Fred Hochberg, is president and chairman of the U.S.'s Export-Import Bank. New York Times

MOVERS AND SHAKERS: Alice Stewart has stepped down as communications director for Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee. Cory Haik, a top digital officer at the Washington Post, is joining online publisher Mic as chief strategy officer.


 Airbnb's legal brain. Belinda Johnson joined Airbnb as general counsel in 2011 and became its chief business and legal officer this past July. Since then, she has proven herself as CEO Brian Chesky's right-hand woman, steering the company through tricky regulatory waters and taking on often antiquated laws against short-term rentals—which challenge the very core of Airbnb's business.  LA Times

Transparent feminism. Transparent made headlines earlier this year when it won 11 Emmy awards. But now the television series is turning heads for a new reason: creator Jill Soloway's refreshing brand of in-your-face feminism.   The New Yorker

GI Gen geneticist. Genetics legend Evelyn Witkin, 94, talks about her decision to become a scientist, her pioneering discoveries, and her friendship with other prominent female researchers. New York Times

 Army of equal pay. While the military isn't often thought of as a great workplace for women, it is leading the charge for women’s equality in one big way: guaranteed equal salaries for men and women of the same rank.  Quartz

 OFA's organizer. Sara el-Amine was once President Obama's youngest female senior staffer. Now, at age 30, she is executive director of Organizing for Action, the nonprofit created by the President’s supporters (think Obama’s version of the Clinton Foundation).  OZY

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Who makes a good father?  Economist

How Kricket Nimmons seized the transgender moment  New York Times

Bad girls and gone girls: Why the media tired of ‘missing white women’ Washington Post

Why Brazil loves breastfeeding  The Atlantic


Who doesn’t have a flaw? If they were men, we’d just call them interesting human beings... Being likable is way overrated.

Actress Viola Davis, on playing so-called flawed female characters.