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The World’s Most Powerful Women: April 7

It turns out not even U.S. Supreme Court justices are safe from the “manterruption” pandemic.

Interruptions are often regarded as an assertion of power through verbal dominance. If that’s the case, then women in positions of power should be interrupted less. Yet a new study from Northwestern University found that at the pinnacle of the legal profession, female Supreme Court justices are just like other women, “talked over by their male colleagues.”

The study’s authors explained their findings in a post for SCOTUSblog:

“In the last 12 years, when women made up on average 24% of the bench, 32% of interruptions were of the female justices, yet only 4% of interruptions were by the female justices. That means each woman was interrupted on average three times more often than each of her male colleagues.”

The disparity matters a great deal because oral arguments factor significantly into case outcomes. “When a justice is interrupted, her point is left unaddressed, and her ability to influence the outcome of a case or the framing of another justice’s reasoning is undermined,” the study says.

The authors also uncovered fascinating speech patterns and strategies that professional women might learn from: Their study found that as female justices gained experience, they cut back on posing questions with prefatory words and phrases like “sorry,” and “may I ask”—the kind of language that gives other justices an opportunity to jump in. Essentially, female justices learned to talk more like men and they were interrupted less often.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the study says, “appears to transition to a more aggressive style of questioning in the 2015 Term, and she is not interrupted nearly as frequently.”

Despite that finding, women justices should not be expected to fix the “manterruption” problem on their own. Chief Justice John Roberts, the study says, could play a larger role as a referee. Or male justices could simply learn to let their female colleagues speak.

—@clairezillman

EUROPE/MIDDLE EAST/AFRICA

Evidence from an exRussian President Vladimir Putin’s ex-wife, Lyudmila Putin, has returned to the spotlight after an anti-corruption organization published evidence that she and her new husband, a nonprofit director 20 years her junior, own a $7.5 million villa in southwest France. The grandiose home was purchased six months after the Putins divorced in 2013, adding to speculation about the actual wealth of Russia’s first family. Some estimates claim the Russian president may be worth as much as $200 billion, though little evidence is available to support that figure.Washington Post

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Race restrictions
Women who have registered to participate in Tehran’s “first international marathon,” dubbed “TehRun,” may be forced to run on an indoor track to avoid violating Iran’s public dress codes. The 206 women who have so far registered for the race received an email three weeks ago saying they would not be able to participate at all; the option of running on an indoor track emerged just two days before the race. No men will be allowed inside the stadium to cheer on the runners. Six hundred Iranians and 160 foreigners are expected to participate in the race overall.
The Independent
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“Pretty Lethal” lessons
Reebok is offering a month of free self-defense classes to Johannesburg women as part of the company’s “Pretty Lethal” campaign to “[educate] women across the country with the necessary tools to walk tall, with confidence, by learning the basics of self-defense.” The South African city is known for its high crime rate; Reebok’s courses will focus on threat neutralization via mixed martial arts.
City Press

THE AMERICAS

With Putin, it’s personal
Hillary Clinton renewed her call for an “independent, non-partisan investigation” into Russia’s influence in the U.S. election at the Women in the World summit last night. “Putin publicly blamed me for the outpouring of outrage by his own people, and that is the direct line between what he said back then and what he did in this election,” she said, explaining how Russian interference was a factor in her loss.
Fortune
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Backchannel for choice
Ivanka Trump quietly met with Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards shortly after her father’s inauguration. The meeting was geared at explaining how the organization operates, and how dangerous it would be to render its services inaccessible to Medicaid patients. Richards “was explaining that the money doesn’t actually go to abortions—we get reimbursed the same way a hospital does. We were clearing up misinformation about how this works,” Dawn Laguens, EVP of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, told Politico. Still, the meeting did little to quell critics of the first daughter’s complicity in her father’s policies.
Fortune
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AirBnb’s example
AirBnB’s successful effort to recruit more women shows how other tech companies could improve their gender diversity, if only they put a bit more effort into it. AirBnb data-mined recruitment statistics to see where women were being excluded and changed its hiring practices to double the proportion of women on staff from 15% to 30% in one year alone.
Financial Times

ASIA-PACIFIC

Adored overseas
The U.S. first daughter has emerged as a role model in China, where ambitious young women aim to model Ivanka Trump’s seemingly well-balanced approach to her personal and professional life. “She’s very independent,” Wang Jiabao, a reality television producer in Beijing, told The New York Times. “She represents what we’re looking for—to marry into a decent family, to look good, and to also have your own career.”
New York Times
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Acing AI
As a child in Tokyo, Yoky Matsuoka dreamed of being the next Serena Williams, but she never made it to Wimbledon. Instead, the CTO of Nest, Google’s home technology arm, earned a prestigious MacArthur “genius” fellowship for her pioneering work in robotics and the study of the human brain. Matsuoka talked about her journey and her work in the red hot field of artificial intelligence at Fortune‘s Brainstorm Tech dinner in San Francisco last night.
Fortune
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Mapping empowerment
The Hindustan Times’ “Women Empowerment Index” uses government statistics to determine which Indian states are best for women, weighing factors like the participation of women in household decisions, ownership of land, cell phones, and bank accounts, and the incidence of spousal violence. The findings show a drastic regional divide within India: “the 10 worst-performing states lie in a straight belt cutting across north and central India, starting from Rajasthan in the west and extending to Assam in the east.” The best-performing states are in the northeast.
The Hindustan Times
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News summaries by Linda Kinstler @lindakinstler

IN BRIEF

The infantilizing ways we talk about women’s ambition
New Yorker

Shonda Rhimes on joining the Planned Parenthood board
Elle

How three women are shaking up Scottish traditional whiskeys, kilts, and bagpiping
Forbes

The biggest study yet on differences between male and female brains
New York Magazine

 

PARTING WORDS

“[T]his tendency to reduce women to body parts—to what we wear, to what our hair looks like—is nothing we can just laugh off.”
--Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, addressing the 'Legs-it' controversy.