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The World’s Most Powerful Women: June 28

Valentina Zarya here, filling in for Claire this week.

Reading the headlines about Margrethe Vestager might lead you to believe that she’s technology companies’ worst nightmare. “The Bureaucrat Who Has Tech Terrified” reads one Fortune piece from 2015. A more recent Wired story pits her directly against the U.S.’s digital giants: “Europe vs Silicon Valley: Behind Enemy Lines With the Woman Deciding Google’s Fate.”

It’s true that Vestager, the European Commission’s antitrust chief, regulates commercial activity across Europe, making her one of the continent’s most powerful women. Vestager flexed that power Tuesday, hitting Google with a $2.7 billion fine—the biggest one ever imposed on a single company in an antitrust case. The search engine’s crime? Favoring some of its own shopping services over those of rivals.

Despite her power as commissioner, Vestager’s biographer Jens Thomsen has said that she tries hard to remind people of her humanity. With that in mind, here are a few interesting tidbits about Vestager, the woman:

  1. She grew up in a small town called Ølgod on Denmark’s west coast.
  2. Her parents were both Lutheran rectors; her father was a local politician in Denmark’s Social Liberal Party (SLP).
  3. She has been a professional politician since age 21, when she was appointed to the central board and executive committee of the SLP.
  4. She became Denmark’s education minister by age 30; she became party leader a decade later.
  5. She has been considered by Danish media and pollsters as the most powerful person in their government.
  6. Her love of knitting and baking is a major topic of discussion on Danish social media.
  7. Her husband, with whom she has three daughters, is a high school teacher.



Nicola gets cold feetNicola Sturgeon, the head of pro-independence Scottish National Party and First Minister of Scotland, is delaying holding a second referendum on independence. While she had originally planned to seek a second vote no later than the spring of 2019, she now acknowledges that she will first have to let the U.K.’s Brexit negotiations run their course. Fortune


Royal riches
Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II is set to receive £82.2 million ($105 million) in two year’s time, royal accounts published Tuesday. The Royal Family receives 25% of the profit made by the Crown Estate, an independent trust that runs the monarchy’s estate—including Buckingham Palace—during the previous two years.


Court to cover
Serena Williams is the subject of Vanity Fair’s August cover story, which delves into her relationship with her fiancé—Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian—and tells the story of how she won the Australian Open shortly after finding out she was pregnant. In other news about tennis pro, she has responded to retired tennis legend John McEnroe’s assertion that “she’d be like 700 in the world” if she played against men. “Please please keep me out of your statements that are not factually based,” she tweeted Tuesday.
Vanity Fair

To tell or not to tell?
We all know that women are at a disadvantage when it comes to the outcomes of their salary negotiations—and one of the reasons often given for this is the fact that they negotiate from lower bases. Yet refusing to disclose current salary may not be a solution either, according to a study by U.S. compensation information firm Payscale. Women who refuse to disclose what they make generally earn 1.8% less than women who do give up the details. (If a man refuses to disclose his current salary, he gets paid 1.2% more.)

Warren winning back voters
Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren is trying to win back working-class voters in her state with a message similar to the one President Donald Trump delivered during his 2016 campaign. “We talk about how the middle class has just taken one punch after another for nearly 40 years now,” she said at a town hall Tuesday. She did have a major caveat: “Understand that Donald Trump and these Republican majorities are poised to deliver the knockout blow.”


Miranda gives up her bling
Australian model Miranda Kerr has handed over $8.1 million worth of jewelry to the U.S. justice department after prosecutors said the items were bought for her by a Malaysian financier with money stolen from the country’s state fund, 1MDB. More than $4.5 billion has been stolen from the fund, which was set up by Prime Minister Najib Razak, who denies any wrongdoing. Kerr has not been accused of any crime.
The Guardian

Hong Kong’s PTGFs
The phenomenon of Hong Kong’s part-time girlfriends—also known as PTGFs—has been going viral on the country’s social media in recent months. The PTGFs offer services ranging from dining out to watching movies to sex work, with dates that cost between HK$100 and HK$4,000, depending on what’s being asked of them. Some are as young as 16.
South China Morning Post


75% of women say diversity programs are not working

Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy: ‘I know there will be an attempt to silence me’

VW aims for greater diversity to keep cheaters in check

The most powerful women in sports: 35 executives and influencers winning over the next generation of fans

USA Gymnastics report calls for sweeping changes in wake of sexual abuse scandal


“No two paths are the same, and no path is predictable.”
—Microsoft's chief people officer Kathleen Hogan, announcing that the company is now offering four weeks of paid caregiver leave