Good morning, Broadsheet readers! America is falling behind on board diversity for a surprising reason, Elizabeth Warren gets formally shushed, and Betsy DeVos has been confirmed. Have a productive Wednesday.
• The ego’s a fragile thing. A new analysis on the gender of corporate board directors by executive search firm Egon Zehnder found that, while the U.S. initially lead the charge in diversifying corporate America, it has fallen behind much of the developed world over the past four years. In 2012, women accounted for 19% of board seats on U.S. companies, while women in Western Europe held about 15.6% of seats. Four years later, the U.S. has seen incremental progress—women now make up about 20% of directors—while that percentage has jumped to 25.6% in Western Europe.
One potential reason for corporate America’s lack of progress? Ego, says Carol SingletonSlade, who leads Egon Zehnder’s U.S. boards practice. She points out that there’s “a cultural mindset in the U.S. that if you exit a board, it’s a sign of failure” and that for that reason, “There’s a lot of ego tied up in tenure on boards.” Indeed, the average U.S. board member is older and has a longer tenure than those of most other developed countries, and in a quarter of major companies, directors serve for a decade or longer. This helps explain why board seats in the U.S. are so hard to come by—and why gender ratios have been so slow to change. Fortune
ALSO IN THE HEADLINES
• Warren won’t be silenced. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), was formally silenced by her Republican colleagues during a Tuesday night debate on President Trump’s nominee for attorney general, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL). Her offense? “Impugning the motives” of the Alabama Senator by reading a letter from Coretta Scott King that dated to his failed judicial nomination 30 years ago. King wrote that when acting as a federal prosecutor, Sessions used his power to “chill the free exercise of the vote by black citizens.” Warren read the letter anyway, right outside of the Senate floor. Sessions’ confirmation is expected today. Time
• When she’s not debating… In other Warren news, the Massachusetts Senator she is publishing This Fight is Our Fight: The Battle to Save America’s Middle Class on April 18. The book is expected to look at how the middle class has changed from Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal to the present and to include a personal account of Warren’s battles (see above) in the Senate. Fortune
• DeVos dodges a bullet. The Senate confirmed Betsy DeVos 51-to-50, with VP Mike Pence casting the tiebreaking vote. It was the first time that a vice president has been summoned to the Capitol to break a tie on a cabinet nomination. Time
• Time to heal. Sheryl Sandberg has announced that Facebook is doubling its paid bereavement leave, giving employees up to 20 days. Referencing her own struggle to cope with the death of her husband, the COO wrote: “Making it easier for more Americans to be the workers and family members they want to be will make our economy and country stronger.” Fortune
• Gabbing with Ginsburg. Appearing at Stanford, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg talked about relationships, careers, motherhood, and even the meaning of life (“To put it simply, it means doing something outside yourself,” she said). Things she did not comment on: President Trump’s nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court and the legal controversies over the administration’s travel ban. The Mercury News
• Third time’s a charm? Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) announced their plans to reintroduce the Family And Medical Insurance Leave Act, which would create a shared fund to make paid leave affordable to all employers. This is the third time the pair have attempted to get the bill through the Senate. Fortune
• New Year with Ivanka. While President Trump has been talking tough on China, Ivanka Trump has been pursuing a more friendly relationship with the nation. She and her daughter Arabella attended a Lunar New Year celebration at the Chinese Embassy, a move that was lauded by the Chinese media. Bloomberg
MOVERS AND SHAKERS: Rebecca Blumenstein, the deputy editor in chief of The Wall Street Journal, is joining the New York Times as deputy managing editor.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
• Back to 1600. Karen Pence made her first hire as second lady, appointing Kristan King Nevins as her chief of staff. This is King Nevins’ second tour of duty in the White House—she served as chief of staff to Barbara Bush during her time as first lady. CNN
• Missing millions? Melania Trump has filed a lawsuit against The Daily Mail, accusing the British tabloid of libel for reporting that the modeling agency she worked for in the ’90s was also an escort service. The first lady alleges that the claims caused her miss out on a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity” to make millions by launching “a broad-based commercial brand” during her time in the political spotlight. New York Times
• Ice queens. Brittany Miller, Boston University’s director of hockey operations, and Theresa Feaster, Providence College’s coordinator of hockey operations, are the first women to serve as full-time members of a NCAA Division I hockey coaching staff. New York Times
• Adding to the list. Emily’s List, which aims to put more pro-life Democratic women in office, reports that more than 4,000 women have reached out to the organization in the wake of the presidential election to say they may want to run. That’s quadruple the number of women Emily’s List had heard from in the past 22 months combined. Fortune
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