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The World’s Most Powerful Women: November 21

The election of Hillary Clinton this month would have made her the first female president of the United States—no doubt a huge accomplishment—but some social psychologists believe it would have taken a second female commander-in-chief for the paradigm of gender equality in the U.S. to truly shift.

More than 60 nations have had female heads of government, but only a third of them have had more than one woman leader. It’s the election of that second woman that means more, in part, because it’s harder to achieve. Perhaps, that’s why it took Argentina 33 years to elect its second female president after voting its first into office. In the U.K., the delay between Prime Ministers Margaret Thatcher and Theresa May was only slightly shorter—a quarter century.

After electing the first woman president, there’s a tendency to retreat to old habits. “There’s research suggesting that if you see your past behavior as progress towards a goal, you won’t feel you have to put as much effort into achieving that goal,” Daniel Effron, assistant professor of organizational behavior at London Business School, told Bloomberg.

In short, you can tell perceptions of gender equality have really shifted when the election of a female president is no longer seen as an accomplishment but is considered unremarkable instead.




Merkel makes a decisionAfter endless speculation, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has decided to run for a fourth term less than two weeks after Donald Trump’s election as U.S. president left her as the western world’s pre-eminent defender of liberal values. In announcing her decision, Merkel said the world was experiencing “difficult, uncertain times” and “people just wouldn’t understand if I didn’t try to bring all my experience, my gifts and talent … to bear to serve Germany.”Financial Times


Modern-day Mozart
At 11 years old, Alma Deutscher is a full-blown music prodigy. She wrote her first sonata five years ago and is preparing for the world premiere of her first opera this month. The Dorking, England native says such achievements are not impeding her childhood. “I don’t know anything else,” she said.

Double duty
Tamara Rojo is the artistic director of the English National Ballet—a touring company with no home theater that exists in the shadow of the Royal Ballet—and its marquee ballerina. She is one of the few female ballet company directors and struggles to balance those duties and her dancing, but she has developed a reputation as a risk-taker.
New York Times


Winning in one way
Despite Hillary Clinton’s loss on election night, her total vote count is still record-breaking. As of Friday, her popular vote tally had creeped above 63 million—versus Trump’s 61.6 million—giving her more votes than any white male presidential candidate in history. President Barack Obama grossed the two largest totals of anyone—69.5 million in 2008 and 65.9 million in 2012.

An AG for all?
Last week President-elect Trump nominated Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions for attorney general. Sessions has faced accusations of racism in the past, and Quartz has a run-down of his questionable record on women’s rights. Sessions voted against the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act and legislation that would have helped female-owned businesses. He also seemed confused about how grabbing a woman’s genitals—as Trump talked about doing—constituted sexual assault.


Another blow
South Korean prosecutors said yesterday that President Park Geun-hye acted as a criminal accomplice in the influence-peddling scandal in which her longtime friend extorted tens of millions of dollars from businesses. As president, Park has immunity until she leaves office, but the finding is bolstering calls for her resignation. Her spokesman called the accusations “unfair political attacks.”
New York Times

Sued for sharing
Namgay Zam, one of Bhutan’s best-known journalists, was hit with a defamation lawsuit for sharing a post on Facebook that reflected poorly on a prominent businessman. Press freedom advocates are concerned the case could have a “chilling effect” on journalists’ ability to seek out information in the tiny Himalayan kingdom. 

Quite the constituency
Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj is one of the most high-profile ministers in Indian PM Narendra Modi’s cabinet. Last week, she tweeted that she’s undergoing tests for a kidney transplant and many Indians responded, offering her their own organs.



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“As one who celebrates and strives for diversity, individual freedom and respect for all lifestyles, I will not participate in dressing or associating in any way with the next First Lady. The rhetoric of racism, sexism and xenophobia unleashed by her husband’s presidential campaign are incompatible with the shared values we live by.”
--Designer Sophie Theallet on dressing Melania Trump