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The World’s Most Powerful Women: September 13

The FTSE 100 lost one of its few female directors on Monday.

Laura Wade-Gery, who was the multichannel director of U.K. retail and online operations for Marks & Spencer and a board member, said she is leaving the company following her year-long maternity leave. Wade-Gery, who’s 51, was considered one of M&S’s brightest stars and even a CEO contender, but that job went to Steve Rowe while Wade-Gery was on leave. When Rowe took over in April, he rejiggered the responsibilities of his executive team and simplified the firm’s management structure, which fueled speculation of whether there would be a role for Wade-Gery when she returned.

A year ago, M&S announced that Wade-Gery, who joined M&S in 2011, would take four months of maternity leave, but last December she extended it to September 1.

On Monday, both parties announced the departure with pleasantries. M&S chairman Robert Swannell thanked Wade-Gery and wished her the best, while Wade-Gery herself said that the time she was away from M&S saw “some significant changes in both my personal life and in the business.”

“I concluded that the time was right to move on from M&S,” she said.

Perhaps that’s all there is to it, but the exit of such a high-profile woman following her maternity leave echoes the challenges facing new mothers in the U.K. that a British charity, and an economic research institute, and a group of MPs all highlighted recently.

@clairezillman

EUROPE/MIDDLE EAST/AFRICA

A FIFA first
Fatma Samoura is challenging the perception that high-profile positions within FIFA are dominated by middle-aged white men. The Senegalese diplomat, who spent 21 years at the UN, is the first woman and first person from Africa to be the organization’s secretary general. The Voice

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Bitter-sweet
Minouche Shafik, the most senior woman at the Bank of England, is to step down from her job two years early to become director of the London School of Economics. Shafik will be the first woman to fill the role at LSE, but her departure from the bank aggravates its perennial shortage of women. She is one of only three female members of the BoE’s 12-person Court of Directors, its top body.
Fortune

THE AMERICAS

The charisma gap

Female leaders in politics and business are often criticized for lacking charisma. Research shows that women often have to exaggerate their competence to be taken seriously, which means they’re less able to embrace their emotional voice, instead putting themselves forward as fractured, stunted leaders. Hillary Clinton admitted as much in her Humans of New York post last week.
Quartz
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It’s time to open up, Hillary

Former New York Times executive editor Jill Abramson says Hillary Clinton could pull away from Donald Trump by becoming radically transparent, as in releasing a comprehensive list of her paid speeches, documents that clarify her role at the Clinton Foundation, and her full health records. Abramson’s advice is especially timely since Clinton’s campaign hid her recent pneumonia diagnosis for 48 hours.
Guardian
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Talks like a man?

A UC Irvine grad student studied Hillary Cllinton’s speech patterns and discovered that “when Clinton occupied a political office or took on a major policy initiative (as in 1993-1994), her language conformed to a masculine style.”
Fast company

ASIA-PACIFIC


 
A de facto leader
Myanmar’s civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi will visit President Barack Obama tomorrow as the U.S. considers lifting or easing some of the sanctions against the Southeast Asian nation. The meeting will reinforce her status on the global stage. She won a decisive victory in November but is banned from assuming Myanmar’s presidency by the constitution drafted by the former junta.
Voice of America
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Will she stay or will she go?
Arundhati Bhattacharya is No. 2 on Fortune‘s MPW International list and is one of the few women leading an Indian bank. Her second term as head of the State Bank of India is due to end this month, but the government might keep her on. Here’s a look at her 38 years at the institution.
Financial Times

IN BRIEF

Watch the U.K. shadow foreign secretary call out a Sky News presenter for sexism
Guardian

Instagram just took a major step toward preventing harassment
Fortune

For Britain’s Theresa May, leopard print and politics don’t clash
Washington Post

Apple reveals its definition of diversity: “We had a Canadian”
Mic

PARTING WORDS

“I’m just past the point of caring what people think. I have worked in environments where I felt like I wasn’t myself, and it wasn’t long-lasting.”
—Comedian and TV host Samantha Bee in her recent interview with Fortune.