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The Broadsheet: February 21st

Good morning, Broadsheet readers! Ivanka Trump fans boost her perfume to No. 1, former Team USA gymnasts speak out about abuse, and a former Uber engineer tells all. Have a productive Tuesday.


• Uber disturbingOn Sunday, Susan Fowler published a chilling blog post about the year she spent working as a site reliability engineer at Uber. Fowler, who recently left the ride-sharing startup for a job at Stripe, says she was propositioned by her manager not long after joining the company. Her attempts to report his behavior were shut down by HR—and set off a series of events that began to damage to her career. At one point, she charges, her manager even threatened (illegally) to fire her if she reported any other violations to HR.

The same day, Uber CEO Travis Kalanick responded by saying that what Fowler describes “is abhorrent & against everything we believe in. Anyone who behaves this way or thinks this is OK will be fired.” He added that Uber’s new HR head Liane Hornsey, along with board member Arianna Huffington, will launch an investigation into Fowler’s claims. Yesterday, he informed Uber employees that the company has hired former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to conduct the review—as well as to look into broader questions about diversity and inclusion at the company.

Judging by the reaction on Twitter, some women in Silicon Valley were less than shocked by Fowler’s story, seeing it as a reflection of the technology industry’s wider “woman problem.” (For those of you keeping score at home, The Outline has a good, though certainly not comprehensive, rundown of some of the most egregious recent examples.)

However, there’s plenty of evidence to suggest that Uber isn’t just another tech startup dealing with standard issue sexism. From crude comments made by Kalanick, to charges that it has downplayed customers’ reports of sexual assault and rape, to accepting a massive investment from Saudi Arabia, the company has a history of problematic behavior when it comes to women.

So, how can Uber earn the trust of women who have given up on the company? A thorough and fair investigation into Fowler’s claims—to be shared with the public—would be a good start.


• Part the problem. In more not-so-great news about the ridesharing company, Uber revealed Monday that only 15% of its technical employees are women—and that that number “has not changed substantively in the last year.” That’s on the low end of the spectrum, even for Silicon Valley: Google’s tech workforce is 19% female, Facebook’s is 17%, and Airbnb’s is 26%. Financial Times

• RIP, Roe. Norma McCorvey, who at 22 became Jane Roe, the pseudonymous plaintiff in the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision that established a constitutional right to abortion, died Saturday at age 69. This Washington Post obit notes that McCorvey was “a complicated protagonist in a legal case that became a touchstone in the culture wars,” and remained an enigma throughout her life. Washington Post

• Smell of success? Ivanka Trump’s namesake perfume is currently the #1 top-seller on Amazon. Judging by the comments in the reviews section, some of the buyers are snapping up the fragrance just to support Trump, whose brand was recently dropped by several big retailers. Fortune

• No book for Milo. Book publisher Simon & Schuster said Monday that it has canceled the publication of Milo Yiannopoulos’ book after a video surfaced in which he appears to condone pedophilia (he denies that this was his intention). Yiannopoulos, an editor of far-right news site Breitbart News, made headlines last year for reportedly leading an “online campaign of harassment” against comedian Leslie Jones (who spoke out against the publication of the book last month). WSJ

First, do no harm. Three top gymnasts—2000 Olympian Jamie Dantzscher, former national team member Jeanette Antolin, and three-time U.S. rhythmic gymnastics champion Jessica Howard—have come forward to say they were sexually abused by former Team U.S.A. doctor Larry Nassar. CBS News

• Safer sex? While U.S. consumers are increasingly drawn to natural products, Meika Hollender hopes people will start to think more about “the ingredients that go in the products they put in the most intimate parts of our body”—including condoms. She is co-founder and co-CEO of nontoxic, eco-friendly vegan condom company Sustain Natural, which she runs with her father, Jeffrey Hollender, a founder of Seventh Generation. New York Times

MOVERS AND SHAKERS: Rania Nashar has been named CEO of Samba Financial Group, becoming the first female chief of a listed Saudi commercial bank.


• Who’s in vogue? Who will replace Alexandra Shulman as editor of British Vogue? Among the likely contenders: the magazine’s deputy editor Emily Sheffield, Love magazine editor Katie Grand, American Vogue creative digital director Sally Singer, and Financial Times fashion editor Jo Ellison. New York Times

FEC un-Ravels. U.S. Federal Election Commission commissioner Ann Ravel, a Democrat, says she’s planning to resign this week, citing frustrations about partisan gridlock. Her departure will open the door for President Trump to make his own appointment to the group. Fortune

• Trolling Trump. Chelsea Clinton continues to use her Twitter account to needle the Trump administration. After the president inaccurately implied that Sweden had been the victim of a terror attack, Clinton tweeted: “What happened in Sweden Friday night? Did they catch the Bowling Green Massacre perpetrators?” Fortune

• Power dressing. Samantha Cameron, Britain’s former first lady, recently launched Cefinn, her own fashion label. This Wall Street Journal piece includes some fun trivia about Cameron—including the fact that was a teen goth. WSJ

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Hey Gorgeous founder says plus-size has a long way to go  Racked

Reluctant First Lady? Melania Trump wouldn’t be the first to claim that title  New York Times

A Pakistani women’s team made a memorable international debut in rugby Time

Leave American Girls alone  New York Times


(Women’s) stories often get brushed off. Seeing five women front a project is not common—and it shouldn’t be that way.
Nicole Kidman, on her new HBO show, 'Big Little Lies', which premiered on Sunday