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The World’s Most Powerful Women: August 16

European companies are doing a better job of diversifying their corporate boards than American firms are. A new analysis by the Financial Times shows that while women make up 25% of European boards, they hold only 15% of the seats on U.S. boards.

The study of ISS Analytics data from more than 45,000 directors in 5,000 companies in 30 markets, also showed U.S. board directors are an average of four years older than European directors. The figures provide fuel for those pushing for improvements in diversity as a way to make corporate boards more effective. Since the 2008 financial crisis, corporate governance campaigners have argued that long tenures and lack of diversity have caused boardrooms to become lax in their oversight.

Brenda Trenowden, global chair of the 30% club that advocates for women holding more positions on FTSE 100 boards, told Bloomberg recently that change has to come from the top. “It has to be led by the CEO, by the chair, and then by the managers all the way down,” she said, adding that a more effective board can add to a company’s bottom line. “This is about all the research that shows that greater heterogeneity in teams leads to better decision-making and better performance,” she said. In other words, diversity pays–literally.

@laurascohn

EUROPE/MIDDLE EAST/AFRICA

 

Murray’s moment
With all the debate over sexist comments by the global media at the Olympics, I have to tip my hat to U.K. tennis champion Andy Murray, who had a great response when BBC presenter John Inverdale called him the “first person to win two gold medals” in the sport. “Well, to defend the singles title,” Murray said, adding, “Venus and Serena have won about four each.” You can watch his comments here.
Time

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Never too old
Here at WMPW, I’ve heralded the accomplishments of the gymnasts who’ve stood on the podium at Rio. But there are others who deserve a mention. Take Oksana Chusovitina, the 41-year-old gymnast from Uzbekistan who’s been to the Olympics seven times, finished seventh in the women’s vault competition, and who the New York Times calls “an athletic specimen who could keep gerontologists busy for years studying her.”
New York Times

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Running against sexism
Saudi Arabia sent four female athletes to Rio–double the number it sent to the London Games four years ago–but back home, women can’t compete in athletic competitions and have a hard time accessing athletic facilities. A group of women in Saudi is bending the rules with a running club.
Quartz

THE AMERICAS



Latinas’ challenge
Women are often told to be “authentic” at work, but what if being your true self puts you at a disadvantage? Hispanic women in Corporate America say they worry about seeming “too Latina,” according to a study released yesterday by People en Español and Lieberman Research Worldwide.
Fortune

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Avoiding trolls
Online criticism of U.S. gymnast Gabby Douglas in recent days has left her “heartbroken,” her mother, Natalie Hawkins, said. Douglas, who’s been criticized for not putting her hand on her heart during the U.S. national anthem, said the experience has been so trying, she’s not going online. “I’ve been trying to stay off the internet because there’s so much negativity,” said Douglas, who’s just the latest high-profile woman to avoid social media to stay away from online trolls.
Guardian

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Where to take your leave
When it comes to offering paid maternity leave, the U.S. is far behind the rest of the world. A telling graphic in this story shows that the U.S. lags far behind Europe. Check it out.
Washington Post

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Diversity’s difference
A senior fellow at Google says he is concerned about the lack of diversity in the artificial intelligence research community–and in computer science. Jeff Dean, who heads Google’s so-called brain team, said with diversity, “you end up achieving things that none of you could do individually.”
Recode

ASIA-PACIFIC



Lifting a drought
The 20-year Olympic medal drought in the Philippines has come to an end. Hidilyn Diaz, who won the silver medal in weightlifting in Rio, went home to a hero’s welcome–and a bonus of 2.5 million pesos (roughly $53,000).
Japan Times

IN BRIEF

 


Simone Biles gets a bronze in the balance beam competition
Time


Pennsylvania attorney general Kathleen Kane convicted on nine criminal charges
New York Times


Study shows female CEOs get more shareholder activism than males
Arizona State University


Adele says she won’t be singing at the Superbowl
CNN


Actress Taraji Henson to play groundbreaking NASA mathematician in “Hidden Figures” film
The Verge


What women should do during salary negotiations
Quartz


How women can win on Wall Street
Fortune

 

PARTING WORDS

My target is gold for life.
—Dipa Karmakar, the first female gymnast from India to compete in the Olympics, who finished fourth in the women's vault final in Rio