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The World’s Most Powerful Women: January 18

‘Stereotype’ was the word of the day yesterday among some women at Davos.

At a panel discussion, Reshma Saujani, founder and CEO of the non-profit Girls Who Code, pointed to antiquated gender norms as one factor keeping women out of tech. Because girls are sometimes conditioned to be more risk-averse, they can be turned off from math or computer science by the difficulty of the courses and the prospect of failing. Boys, meanwhile, are taught to be fearless, she said.

Women’s aversion to rejection manifests itself in the job market, said GM CEO Mary Barra. If GM has a job posting with—say—10 qualifications, women with nine of those requirements won’t apply, whereas a man who ticks six of the boxes will.

Women need to put themselves out there, she said.

At a separate panel, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg said it’s impossible “to overstate how important stereotypes are.” The problem is “at the root of the gender gap we face,” she said. She gave the example of assertive young girls being called bossy. Why not characterize them as having “executive leadership skills” instead?

There’s an urgency to the need to eliminate such tired typecasts. It’s especially acute when it comes to women in tech. Research from Accenture (which sponsors WMPW) shows that if we maintain the status quo, the share of women in the U.S. computing workforce will actually get worse—from 24% now to 22% by 2025.



Power-less in Sudan Samantha Power, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, leaves her office with the outgoing administration. She also leaves behind war-torn South Sudan, where, according to the UN, tens of thousands of people have been killed and rape has been rampant. The starkest diplomatic defeat for the U.S. came late last month, when Power was unable to persuade the UN Security Council to impose an arms embargo on the country and sanctions on key leaders. New York Times


Listening to Lagarde
Speaking at Davos, IMF head Christine Lagarde called for urgent action to tackle a “middle-class crisis” hitting working people. “With lower growth, more inequality and much more transparency, you have the good ingredients for a crisis of the middle classes in the advanced economies,” she said.
The Guardian

Marine’s main message
French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen’s campaign platform is centered on getting France out of the Eurozone (as well as tighter domestic security and the assimilation of minorities). She last ran on a similar platform in 2012 with an initial promise of a sharp break from the euro, but this time around is proposing an orderly exit.
Wall Street Journal


The nearly theres
Women represent the strongest internal contenders for the corner office at a small but growing number of major U.S. companies, including Tupperware, Kohl’s, Abercrombie, and Verizon. Their ultimate success could produce an unprecedented number of female CEOs.
Wall Street Journal

Confirmation conundrums
Betsy DeVos’ confirmation hearing to be U.S. education secretary devolved into a heated and partisan debate about how best to spend public money. Meanwhile, the confirmation hearing for UN ambassador nominee Nikki Haley created confusion among Congress members, as her stance on a number of issues differed sharply from the president-elect’s.
Washington Post

Assault in the Amazon
Experts estimate that there are now hundreds of spiritual centers offering ayahuasca ceremonies—which entail taking a “transcendental” plant-based drug—throughout South and Central America. Along with the rise in the ceremonies’ popularity, there has been an increase in the number of reports of sexual assault accompanying them.
New York Magazine


Crowdfunding diversity
Activists are calling for the return of an Australia Day billboard in Melbourne which was taken down after the company displaying it allegedly received threats. The reason: One of the series of photographs showed two young girls wearing hijabs and holding Australian flags. A crowdfunding campaign to reinstate the billboard raised A$50,000 as of Wednesday.
The Guardian


Brenda Barnes, former Sara Lee CEO and hero to working moms, dies at 63

U.S. Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard just took a secret trip to Syria
New York Magazine

Pakistan singer Atif Aslam stops show to rescue harassed girl

Everything you need to know about the Women’s March on Washington

At Davos, IBM CEO Ginni Rometty downplays fears of a robot takeover

Gloria Feldt: Feminism doesn’t need to be palatable in 2017


“There are so few of us women leaders, we should just be who we are.”
Harriet Green, head of the internet of things for IBM