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The World’s Most Powerful Women: May 19

And now for a counterargument.

In the new issue of 1843 magazine, a man named Nathan cautiously makes what some may consider a give-me-a-break argument: “In the society that I live in, as a professional in New York City, I think it is easier being a woman than being a man.”

Resist that reflexive eye-roll and hear Nathan out.

He argues that men are obliged to pursue work that supports a family and have no leeway to chase more flexible careers that allow for more time at home. He speaks with envy of female friends who left the workforce to be full-time mothers. “They weren’t perceived as failures,” he says, “If anything, they were told ‘That’s so great, you’re choosing to be a mom, that’s the most important thing in the world.’ That is not an option open to men.”

Nathan is not alone. 1843 reports that between 1977 and 2008 the percentage of American fathers in dual-earner couples who suffered from work-family conflicts jumped from 35% to 60%. The percentage of similarly vexed mothers grew only slightly in the same time period, from 41% to 47%.

The article is worth reading in full, but one takeaway is the overwhelming power of prevailing gender norms and the immense need to disrupt them. Society’s stubborn gender standards are prohibiting men from capturing the kind of work-life balance that Nathan covets and are subsequently saddling women with a disproportionate share of unpaid household and childcare labor. According to 1843:

Women who behave like their male colleagues may be disliked for being “pushy” or “bitchy,” but these penalties are offset by the fact that they are also likely to enjoy more power and greater financial rewards. When men adopt the jobs and behaviors associated with women, however, they typically experience a loss of status with fewer perks and more social sanctions, especially from other men.

“It’s seen as an unknowable crisis if men want to step down,” Barbara Risman, head of the department of sociology at the University of Illinois in Chicago, told the magazine. “It’s not just being more like women, it’s seen as being less than men. Because women are seen as less than men.”



Facing finesAustria has banned the full-face veil and any woman who wears a face-covering in places like universities, public transportation or courthouses will be subject to a fine of about $167. Muna Duzdar, a state secretary in the office of Chancellor Christian Kern, says the ban is part of legislation aimed at improving the integration of immigrants, but members of the nation’s Muslim community say it infringes on individual privacy and interferes with religious freedom and the freedom of expression.New York Times


Screening process
Many sunscreens on the market leave a white residue on dark skin, which keeps many black people from wearing the protective skin cream. Two sisters from Nigeria, Chinelo Chidozie and Ndidi Obidoa who founded black skin care line Bolden, are preparing to launch a sunblock designed specifically for darker skin tones. “A lot of black people don’t wear sunblock because they don’t see the damage immediately,” Chidozie says.
Huffington Post

Sweet payoff
Jay Hunt, chief creative officer of the U.K.’s Channel 4, masterminded the network’s poaching of the Great British Bake Off from the BBC. Now she’s a favorite to snag Channel 4’s CEO role, following final interviews this week. If she succeeds, she will be the first woman to run a U.K. broadcaster larger than Channel 5.


Too lean
Slate has a hot take on the Skimm, an insanely popular daily newsletter aimed at women. Writer Christina Cauterucci calls it the “Ivanka Trump of newsletters,” arguing that “every blurb is painstakingly neutered of political slant or analysis, and boring (read: important) stories are loaded with conspicuous snark about how uninteresting news can be.”

Major recall
IBM, which was once among Corporate America’s staunchest boosters of remote work, is calling its off-site employees back to the mothership. It gave thousands of its remote workers an ultimatum this week: abandon your home workspaces and return to a regional office—or leave the company. The move comes as IBM copes with 20 consecutive quarters of falling revenue and growing shareholder concern over CEO Ginni Rometty’s pay package.
Wall Street Journal

A health huddle
Female Democratic lawmakers requested a meeting with First Daughter Ivanka Trump to talk about women’s health issues, such as access to contraception and maternity care. Trump, who’s cast herself as a voice for women’s issues in the her father’s administration, has been silent on the Republicans’ most recent health bill, which would threaten access to pregnancy care, maternal and newborn services, breast cancer screenings, and contraception, the lawmakers say. “Given your stated passion about women’s issues and empowerment, we found your silence during the House passage of [the bill] surprising,” the female representatives wrote in a letter.



Digging into drop-outs
Between 2004-2005 and 2011-2012, nearly 20 million Indian women dropped out of the workforce, even as the economy grew at a steady pace. Researchers at the World Bank tried to make sense of the trend. They found that social norms—marriage, motherhood, gender relations, biases, and patriarchy—are partly to blame. But working-age women are also opting to continue their education rather than join the labor force and some women are choosing to stay home because their husbands’ wages have increased.

Profit priorities
Bloomberg has a deep dive into how GM CEO Mary Barra’s ceaseless drive for profit prompted her decision to pull GM’s Chevrolet brand out of India. It’s not the only market GM has abandoned. Since becoming CEO in 2014, Barra has sold or closed 13 plants and walked away from five markets boasting about 26 million in total vehicle sales annually.

Leaving women behind
Myanmar is transitioning to democracy, but its efforts to protect women from violence aren’t keeping up with the pace of change. It lags behind many of its Asian neighbors on the issue, human rights groups say, due to a penal code that does not recognize marital rape and its lack of a domestic violence law.
New York Times


A migrant worker’s story of her travails is a huge hit in China

One Syrian on what it was like to flee her country in the midst of violence

Surprising things I learned as a woman fighting ISIS

Twitter is not happy about Tina Brown’s tweet memorializing Roger Ailes


“2015…2017… doesn’t matter the year, congratulations @EmmanuelMacron on a great step forward!'”
—Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, responding to the gender parity in France's new cabinet.