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The World’s Most Powerful Women: February 7

Since Election Day in the U.S., story after story has profiled women who—motivated by President Donald Trump’s victory or the broader political climate—have voiced interest in running for office.

On Monday, Emily’s List, the political action committee that supports pro-choice Democratic women, released some hard numbers to back up that anecdotal evidence. Since Trump won the White House on November 8, more than 4,000 women have reached out to the organization to say they may want to seek elected office—that’s quadruple the number of women Emily’s List had heard from in the past 22 months combined and includes 1,660 inquiries since inauguration day alone.

Those figures are unprecedented in the organization’s 32-year history, press secretary Rachel Thomas told me. The demand is so great that Emily’s List is tweaking the way it operates.

The proactive way in which women are pursuing politics is an especially big change. “It’s always been a two-way conversation,” Thomas says. “Each year we see more women coming to us, but generally it was a lot of outreach on our end, by working with organizations on the ground.”

In response to the influx of interest, Emily’s List revamped its website to make its “run for office” entry point more prominent. That portal also offers visitors a brand-new option: “help a woman run,” which provides women with an outlet even if they’re not ready to enter a race themselves.

Emily’s List is also launching what it says is its “most aggressive” recruiting campaign ever and is doubling its recruiting and training staff as a result.

“We had to do something to harness this energy, and make sure that women across the country know that if they want to get involved… one of the best ways to make an impact is to run themselves,” Thomas says. The first step in the process is to debunk misconceptions that women might have—”that they need a big network or a lot of money or a law degree to run,” she says. “What you need is passion and commitment and a drive and the energy to do it.”



Family affairTwo Harvard-bound sisters from Iran who had been held up in the U.K. because of Trump’s travel ban have finally made it to Boston. Marzieh and Amene Asgari arrived there on Saturday after an appeals court rejected an effort by the administration to quickly reinstate the policy. Marzieh is a philosopher who will be a visiting scholar at Harvard. Amene, a mathematician, is slated to start postdoctoral work at Harvard Medical School. In Boston, they’ll reunite with a third sister, Mahboubeh, who works at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.Financial Times


Page turner
New York Magazine has a profile of Deena Aljuhani Abdulaziz, the editor-in-chief of the new Vogue Arabia, which is due out in print this spring. Its debut will come at a politically sensitive time with the entire world observing the confusion of Trump’s immigration ban. Abdulaziz wouldn’t comment on politics in her interview, but according to the magazine, “it is clear that she is frustrated by what she sees as the very limited ways in which the West treats Arab and Muslim women.”
New York Magazine

Fillon flounders
In an effort to stabilize his floundering presidential campaign, France’s François Fillon apologized yesterday for employing his wife as a parliamentary aide even as he insisted that she had actually performed some duties. Police are investigating whether his wife Penelope actually completed the work she received hundreds of thousands of euros in state payments for. The scandal has dogged Fillon for the past two weeks and has sunk his popularity in recent polls.
Wall Street Journal


Party’s over
One of the top contenders to become Trump’s social secretary has pulled out of the running. Natalie Jones was a surprise candidate to begin with, since she served President Barack Obama as deputy chief of protocol and worked on Hillary Clinton’s first presidential campaign. Sources told the Washington Post that Jones backed out of the hiring process because she “felt like it wasn’t the best fit, though it was all very positive.”
Washington Post

A second slip-up
For several days now, Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway has been taking heat for citing a nonexistent terrorist attack in Bowling Green, Kentucky as she defended the president’s since-blocked immigration ban on MSNBC. She has said the reference was an “honest mistake,” but it turns out she talked about the same incident that never happened in an earlier interview with Cosmopolitan.

Getting onboard
Good news: Board diversity among Fortune 500 companies is at an all-time high. A new study by Deloitte and The Alliance for Board Diversity found that last year, women and minorities occupied 31% of board seats, compared to 26.7% in 2012 and 25.5% in 2010. Bad news: Despite their gains, it will still take another decade until women and minorities achieve 40% representation. And that’s only if the pace of change continues.


Airborne bias
A new biopic about Neerja Bhanot, a 23-year-old flight attendant who in 1986 died trying to save passengers of hijacked Pan Am Flight 73, has prompted a reexamination of India’s “air hostesses” of the 1980s. They were well-compensated and considered glamorous, but were also subject to acute gender discrimination. They were demoted if they gained weight, wore glasses, or developed acne, and were not allowed to get married.

Prize hunt
The Eagle Huntress is a documentary about a 13-year-old Mongolian girl named Aisholpan Nurgaiv who learns to hunt with a golden eagle. The film is up for a British Academy Film Award, but missed out on an Oscar nomination—perhaps because some viewers think it’s staged. Director Otto Bell, however, denies that it is anything but authentic. 


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“[She] needs to slow down on the gum chewing; way too many pieces in there.”
--White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer, critiquing Melissa McCarthy's impression of him on 'Saturday Night Live.'