Good morning, Broadsheet readers! Valentina (@valzarya) here. Oprah is reconsidering her chances of running for President, Twitter has a new strategy for taking on trolls, and a CNN cover story is missing something major. Have a great Thursday.
• A watershed moment? The New York Times‘ Farhad Manjoo argues that the recent Uber scandal—brought on by former employee Susan Fowler’s blog post about the sexual harassment and gender discrimination she experienced while an engineer at the company—could be a “watershed moment” for women in tech. “For gender-diversity advocates in the tech industry, Ms. Fowler’s allegations, and the public outcry they have ignited, offer a possibility that something new may be in the offing,” he writes. “This could be the start of a deep, long-term and thorough effort to remake a culture that has long sidelined women—not just at Uber but across the tech business, too.”
Manjoo argues that because no one in tech has solved the “woman problem,” Uber has an opportunity to be the first. And, because it faces fierce competition from apps like Lyft and Juno, Uber faces extra motivation to repair its tarnished brand. Finally, there is, as Manjoo calls it, “the Trump factor.” Ever since the presidential election, “employees and customers have learned to take up arms against companies that don’t espouse their values, and companies have started to listen.”
While I admire Manjoo’s optimism, I personally am not convinced that this case is a “watershed moment” for women in Silicon Valley. I expect it to go the same way as the trial for Ellen Pao (the former Kleiner Perkins partner sued the VC firm for gender discrimination in 2012): lots of furor, little actual change. And not just because Pao ultimately lost her case. Despite all the talk about venture capital needing more women, it remains completely male-dominated; only 6% of decision-makers at VC firms are women, according to last year’s analysis by Fortune.
Tech shouldn’t expect long-lasting change to happen because of a PR nightmare or a few celebrity investigators. The industry needs to tackle its culture problem the way engineers do any other: with defined goals, clear metrics of success, thoughtful design, and constant iteration.
ALSO IN THE HEADLINES
• Mayer takes a pay cut. Yahoo said Wednesday that the company’s board won’t award CEO Marissa Mayer her 2016 cash bonus and has accepted her offer to forgo her 2017 equity awards. The announcement comes after the company’s board investigation found that she and other senior executives failed to “properly comprehend or investigate” a 2014 security breach that hit more than 500 million Yahoo accounts. WSJ
• Oprah 2020? Oprah Winfrey has said previously that she has no interest in running for president—but Donald Trump’s first few weeks in office have apparently made her rethink that. Appearing on Bloomberg Media, Winfrey seemed to be giving the White House more serious consideration: “I thought…I don’t have the experience,” Winfrey said about her previous stance on the matter. “And now I’m thinking—oh.” Bloomberg
• Twitter takes on trolls. Twitter said Wednesday that it will use software to proactively find trolls, taking some of the burden off users to report abuse. The company is looking to “identify accounts as they’re engaging in abusive behavior, even if this behavior hasn’t been reported to us,” said Ed Ho, Twitter’s vice president of engineering, in a blog post. WSJ
• You missed something. On the cover of this month’s issue of The Hollywood Reporter is a group photo of CNN executives accompanying a feature called “CNN’s New War.” However, not everyone was pleased with the portrayal of the media giant. When CNN producer Josiah Ryan tweeted about the photo, “The future of media looks like this,” users were quick to point out that the image—which has zero women in it—is not an accurate depiction of the industry’s future. BuzzFeed
• Womenomics come stateside. The Japan Business Federation, known as “Keidanren,” has an answer to the headlines about women being underrepresented in the nation’s business sector: Its first-ever all-female delegation is currently making the rounds in New York and D.C. The group’s mission is to make the business case for getting more women into the workforce, an objective that echoes the years-long “womenomics” push by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Fortune
• The future (of business) is female. If you ask some of the most powerful female executives today what the future looks like for women, most of them agree on one thing: It will be better than today. The reason for their optimism? “The business world is not static,” says Ellevest co-founder Sallie Krawcheck. “Whereas before, if there were issues in the workplace, a woman had a choice: Stay gutted out, go without information to another company, or go home. Today, there’s a fourth really important choice, which is start your own thing.” Fortune
MOVERS AND SHAKERS: Kinjil Mathur, the chief marketing officer of Foursquare, has left to join Squarespace, where she will also be CMO. Anita Zielinski is joining Houston food producer Sysco Corp. as SVP and chief accounting officer. Prior to joining Sysco, Zielinski served as a partner of Ernst & Young LLP. Julia Stewart, CEO of DineEquity Inc., the parent company of Applebee’s and IHOP restaurants, is set to leave.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
• Pay parity’s not rocket science. The Big Bang Theory‘s Jim Parsons, Johnny Galecki, Kaley Cuoco, Kunal Nayyar and Simon Helberg―who have all been on the show since its 2007 premiere―reportedly agreed to take $100,000 pay cuts from their $1 million per episode salaries to increase the salaries of fellow cast members Mayim Bialik and Melissa Rauch. The latter two actresses joined the show in the third season and reportedly make 20% of what their co-stars earn. Variety
• Kellyanne off the hook? The White House has concluded that presidential counselor Kellyanne Conway acted “without nefarious motive or intent to benefit personally” when she endorsed Ivanka Trump’s fashion line during a Fox & Friends segment last month. “Ms. Conway acted inadvertently and is highly unlikely to do so again,” said Stefan Passantino, a White House deputy counsel for compliance and ethics. Fortune
• Playing to win in China. At Fortune’s Most Powerful Women International Summit in Hong Kong on Tuesday, Nike’s Greater China CFO Angela Dong spoke about the athletic apparel brand’s strategy to win over the Middle Kingdom. “It’s interesting to think about how to [reach] over a billion people. That task sounds really hard,” she admits. A few key aspects of Nike’s marketing strategy include organizing products by sport and partnering directly with the government. Fortune
• Behind that Beyonce video. Melina Matsoukas, the first solo female director to receive the Grammy for Best Short Form Music Video and the mastermind behind Beyonce’s “Formation” clip, has a knack for helping female artists reinvent themselves. As this New Yorker profile explains, “Female artists, especially, are drawn to Matsoukas because she guides them in bolder directions, attracting new attention.” New Yorker
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ON MY RADAR
How to escape a toxic workplace Bloomberg
Congress has entered the war over Garfield’s gender New York Magazine
Sandwich sexism might be a real thing Eater
After winning his Oscar, Casey Affleck addresses sexual harassment allegations Boston Globe