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The World’s Most Powerful Women: December 6

There’s lots of speculation about who will replace Italian PM Matteo Renzi, who resigned yesterday after suffering a massive defeat in his effort to pass a referendum on constitutional reform. But we know this much: it’s unlikely to be a woman.

As Fortune‘s Laura Cohn reports, Italy and Japan are the only Group of Seven nations that have never had a female leader or a leading female candidate for the country’s top political job. It’s somewhat surprising that Italy earns that classification since it has a decent record of female representation in Parliament. It ranks 42nd out of 193 countries in terms of women in the legislature, ahead of the U.S. at 99th and every other G7 nation except for Germany at No. 24.

But despite their presence in politics, female elected officials still struggle to be taken seriously. For example, in mayoral elections earlier this year, Silvio Berlusconi, the former prime minister and media tycoon, refused to support Giorgia Meloni—a leading rightwing candidate for Rome’s mayor—because he said her pregnancy made her unfit for office.

Says Simona Aimar, an assistant professor at University College London: “Italian politics has not been structured for women, and biases and man-only camaraderie are rampant.”

 

clairezillman

EUROPE/MIDDLE EAST/AFRICA

Keep it in the courtroomGina Miller, the investment manager who helped bring the landmark case challenging the U.K. government’s authority to trigger Brexit, says she’s received death and rape threats from Brexit supporters accusing her of thwarting the outcome of the June referendum. As the Supreme Court began hearing the case yesterday, Lord David Neuberger blasted those who’d attacked Miller: “Threatening and abusing people because they are exercising their fundamental right to go to court undermines the rule of law.”New York Times

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“7 months later, 1 woman standing.”
Rome-based reporter Megan Williams made the astute observation yesterday that of the world leaders in this photo, only Angela Merkel is left standing. 
Twitter

THE AMERICAS

A female brain trust
Seventeen Microsoft researchers—all of whom happen to be women—have issued their annual predictions for artificial intelligence advancements in the next decade. They hypothesize that deep learning will make computers intuitive and that virtual reality will become more ubiquitous. The tech giant focused on female researchers this year to stress that women are underrepresented among computer science graduates.
Fortune
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On-campus chasm
According to the latest data, of the 25 highest-paid private college presidents in the U.S. just three—University of Pennsylvania’s Amy Gutmann, University of Miami’s Donna Shalala (who retired last year), and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute’s Shirley Ann Jackson—are women. In the top 100 earners, there are 17 women.
Money
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Reflecting reality
I took a closer look at Donald Trump’s new panel of business advisors. Of the 16 members, just two—IBM’s Ginni Rometty and GM’s Mary Barra—are women. Blackstone CEO Stephen Schwarzman, who assembled the panel, said party allegiances didn’t factor into his selections, and perhaps, neither did diversity. But the sad fact is that women’s underrepresentation on the panel reflects their larger struggle to reach parity in Corporate America.
Fortune

 

ASIA-PACIFIC

An impending impeachment
There are reports today that South Korean President Park Geun-hye is working with her party to negotiate an agreement in which she would resign in April over an influence-peddling scandal that’s prompted mass protests. The talks appear to be an attempt to preempt an impeachment vote set for Friday, but the balloting may still proceed.
Bloomberg
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Alienating an ally
The Philippines Vice President Leni Robredo resigned from President Rodrigo Duterte’s cabinet yesterday and vowed to lead the opposition to his policies, such as his deadly war on drugs. Robredo will remain VP—a role she won in an election separate from Duterte’s—but will leave her ministerial post after being told by text message to stay away from cabinet meetings.
Straits Times
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Happy wife, happy…nation
With sky-high approval ratings, it’s possible that Japanese PM Shinzo Abe could become complacent. His wife of 29 years, Akie Abe, is ensuring that doesn’t happen. She’s gained a reputation as “the household opposition,” challenging Abe’s positions on policies such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact. Her attitude flouts the traditional, deferential demeanor of Japan’s first lady. “I want to pick up and pass on the views that don’t get through to my husband or his circle,” she says.
Bloomberg

IN BRIEF

Oprah will conduct Michelle Obama’s final White House interview
Time

People are worried Donald Trump will reverse the plan to put Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill
Fortune

Elizabeth Holmes’ Theranos foresaw huge growth in revenue and profits
Wall Street Journal

Researchers may have ‘found’ many of China’s 30 million missing girls
Washington Post

100 years ago, women staged an all-female coup in a tiny Oregon town
Time

Ivanka Trump had business at stake when she met Japan’s prime minister
Fortune

PARTING WORDS

“I also believe that kindness is the cure to violence and hatred around the world.”
--Singer Lady Gaga, talking about her PTSD to homeless LGBT teens.