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The Broadsheet: September 9th

Good morning, Broadsheet readers! Val (@valzarya) here. Fortune gets global with our 2016 list of the Most Powerful Women in International Business, Serena Williams suffers painful deja vu, and we get a Broadsheet column cameo from Fortune editor-at-large Jennifer Reingold. Have a great weekend!


Having worked on Fortune’s Most Powerful Women list for several years, I’ve always wondered just where women went when they dropped off the ranking. Did they move on to other sectors? Get equivalent jobs? Or drop out altogether?

The answer, I discovered in reporting my latest Fortune feature, is all of the above—but not always by choice. A surprising number of women at the top of their game, huge successes by any measure, are no longer fully employed in the business world. Of the 126 women who fell off our list between 2000 and 2015, only 13%—13%!—of those who hadn’t retired or passed away ever had another operating role in a large company. And as for those who had become CEO? Only three—Meg Whitman of eBay and H-P, Susan Cameron of Reynolds America (twice) and Carol Bartz of Autodesk and Yahoo—ever—had a second run at a Fortune 1000 company. 

What explains this?  There are a lot of complicated—and somewhat depressing—reasons, starting with the fact that women more likely to be appointed to tougher jobs, and as a result, more likely to fail in them. This “glass cliff” is a common—and proven—phenomenon. And it serves as a sort of confirmation bias that makes it harder for women to get top gigs after other, high profile ones (Marissa Mayer is a major example) try their hand and fail.

There are, however, a few reasons for hope if one looks at the boardroom. Though women make up less than 5% of all Fortune 500 CEOS—a number that stayed flat last year—21% of all board members are now female, as are 28% of the heads of nominating and governance committees (that’s the committee that handles CEO succession). That’s still nothing close to parity, of course, but it’s an improvement that may take root—hopefully leading to major change in the years to come. 

– Jennifer Reingold, editor-at-large, Fortune

Check out Jennifer’s full piece here.


• Ones to watch. In working on the MPW list, there are always a handful of names that intrigue us, but who aren’t in a position to land a spot in the ranking…or at least not yet. Here are eleven women—including Ulta Beauty CEO Mary Dillon, Google SVP Diane Green, and Apple VP Lisa Jackson—who are on our radar.  Fortune

• Serena has deja vu. Serena Williams was upset in the U.S. Open semifinals on Thursday night by No.11-ranked player Karolina Pliskova. This is the second year in a row that Williams has lost to an underdog in the U.S. Open semi-finals and also means that she will lose her No.1 ranking, which she has held for 186 consecutive weeks. Sports Illustrated

• MPW goes abroad. Can’t get enough of powerful women? Check out Fortune‘s ranking of the top 50 international businesswomen, which includes eight newbies—including Jean Liu, president of China’s Uber competitor-turned-investment Didi Chuxing—and eight dropoffs. Fortune

• Turkey’s trailblazer. Fortune‘s Erika Fry profiles Güler Sabancı, the most powerful woman in Turkey. Being elected chair of her family’s conglomerate Sabancı Holding by—mostly male—shareholders in 2004 was unprecedented. Now, the country is under a state of emergency, presenting the trailblazer with her latest challenge. Fortune

• Hail, Mary. GM CEO Mary Barra, who holds the top spot on the MPW list for the second year in a row, is largely credited with steering the auto giant through its 2014 ignition crisis. How did she do it? In short, by “providing calm stability for a company that badly needed it.” Fortune

• Video time. In our latest episode of Broad Strokes, Kristen and I discuss whether—and why—we still need a powerful women’s list, Fox News’ apology to Gretchen Carlson, and a new study that confirms what we’ve long suspected: that women take negative feedback to heart more than men do. Fortune

MOVERS AND SHAKERS: Mary McDowell has been named CEO of Polycom. Rodale has promoted Beth Buehler to COO.


• All hail Queen Bey. Every year, Fortune chooses a “fun 51” for our Most Powerful Women list—an honor that goes to a woman who is having a significant impact on the business world, but who does not necessarily fulfill all of our usual MPW criteria. For 2016, that spot goes to Beyoncé, who this year launched a clothing brand, added a music label arm to her production company, and made a major investment in a female-founded startup.  Fortune

• Think you know the MPW? Have you been following along with Fortune‘s coverage of the Most Powerful Women? Take our quiz to test your knowledge!  Fortune

• Spin, Meg, spin. Fortune‘s Barb Darrow digs into HPE’s announcement that it will spin off its software business, writing that, “it’s clear that CEO Meg Whitman—No. 7 on the list—wants to undo most of HP’s acquisitions of the last decade.”  Fortune

• A fighter rests in peace. It took a year and a half after her death, but the Army has now formally recognized the service of Elaine Harmon, a female pilot who fought in WWII. This week, she was laid to rest—with full military honors—at Arlington National Cemetery. New York Times

• A+ in fundraising. Know an entrepreneurial young woman who’s thinking about where to go to college (or b-school)? Check out this PitchBook data on which universities have produced the largest numbers of venture capital-backed female founders. Fortune

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I love to wave my arms, but apparently that’s a little bit scary to people. And I can’t yell too much. It comes across as ‘too loud’ or ‘too shrill’ or ‘too this’ or ‘too that.’ Which is funny, because I’m always convinced that the people in the front row are loving it.

Hillary Clinton