Hours after being grazed by a tomato at a boisterous rally on Tuesday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel was cool as a cucumber when asked about dealing with “alpha males” at campaign event later in the day. Preparation, she said, is key.
Merkel attended two campaign events on Tuesday. At the first, she encountered fruit-throwing protesters angry with her open-door refugee policy; their efforts splattered bits of tomato on her blazer.
She wore that same outfit to a later appearance, where she was asked how she deals with leaders like U.S. President Donald Trump, Russian President Vladimir Putin, and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who were referred to as “alpha males” by a moderator on stage.
“For me it’s always been important, and I won’t deviate from this, that I try to be as I am, and that I’m well prepared for the substance,” she said. “Such meetings are not about building a friendship. If that happens, good, but it’s about representing the interests of your country, and to make your values clear.”
Preparation—versus a “just wing it” attitude—is routinely cited by female leaders who operate in male-dominated spheres.
During a 2016 U.S. presidential debate, for instance, Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton defended herself when rival Trump chided her for spending a lot of time studying for the showdown.
“You criticize me for preparing for this debate,” Clinton said. “And, yes, I did. Do you know what else I prepared for? I also prepared to be president.”
Likewise, U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao cited preparation when asked how she has excelled in predominately-male industries.
“I prepare so much more than some of my male colleagues… And I know women who are prepared more and we get ridiculed and it’s like, ‘Oh, my gosh. She’s just preparing so much. She’s such an automaton. Can’t she just like, wing it?’ Well, I’m not comfortable winging it,” Chao told Politico in April.
The trend extends beyond women in high-profile jobs. A YouGov poll in October found that 74% of U.S. adult women—versus 60% of men—said they tend to prepare for things rather than improvising. At the same time, 32% of men indicated that they tend to improvise, compared to just 17% of women.
In the end, the data show what women already seem to know: that preparation often—but not always (hi, Hillary)—pays off. That same YouGov survey found that a majority of men and women have more respect for a person who prepares for a job interview than someone who’s simply flying by the seat of his—or her—pants.
|Sizing them up|
|Two French fashion giants, Kering (owner of Gucci and Balenciaga) and LVMH (Saint Laurent and Christian Dior Couture) have published a charter guaranteeing the rights of models after a series of controversies about poor treatment and an inappropriate focus on thinness. They vow to respect models’ “dignity” and will start requiring models to have valid health certificates. The companies are also banning the use of models younger than 16 for adult products and will require agencies to use female models who are least a French size 34 (U.S. size 2). |
|Cosmetics maker L’Oreal is considered a pioneer in developing a female-friendly workplace. Its approach has been so effective, in fact, that it now has gender gap with a dearth of male employees. It’s aggressively recruiting men in order to achieve more balance. For instance, it’s touting the entrepreneurial aspects of a job in hopes of attracting more male applicants.|
|The New Yorker has the story of Aisha, a teenager in Somalia, who continues to play basketball despite threats from terrorists who say they’ll kill her for doing so. They argue that Islam does not allow women to play sports, but Aisha is defiant. “Weakness puts me in more danger,” she says. “So I need to act strong and tough. I tell them I am going to do whatever I want—whatever they are against.”|
|Starbucks has hired the former CEO of Sam’s Club, a unit of Wal-Mart Stores, as its new No. 2. Rosalind Brewer will join the coffee chain as COO, becoming the second highest ranking executive at the company after president and CEO Kevin Johnson. She’ll also be the first woman and first African-American to hold such a high position at Starbucks.|
|The good wife|
|In addition to addressing her 2016 election loss, Hillary Clinton’s forthcoming book delves into her personal life to a surprising degree, according to CNN’s early look. In it, Clinton admits that she wondered whether her marriage “could or should” survive. “But on those days, I asked myself the questions that mattered to me: Do I still love him?” she writes. “And can I still be in this marriage without becoming unrecognizable to myself—twisted by anger, resentment, or remoteness? The answers were always yes.”|
|Wake up call|
|The Cut‘s Lisa Miller tries to understand why millennium women are losing their professional hunger in this must-read. She concludes that just as women of The Feminine Mystique era recognized the empty promises of domestic happiness, another generation is waking up. “The men in charge are still in charge,” Miller writes. “It is impossible for women to continue to have faith in a vision of their own empowerment, when that empowerment is, in fact, a pose.” |
|Progress in Pakistan?|
|Pakistani Khadija Siddiqi achieved an extraordinary feat last May when she spoke up about surviving a near-deadly attack and succeeded in bringing the culprit—one of her classmates—to justice. Siddiqi’s unique circumstances—supportive parents, money for lawyers, a savvy social media campaign—help explain her rare win, but also reveal what other women are up against.|
|Human rights advocates have renewed fears of a crackdown against sexual diversity in Indonesia after 12 women were evicted from a house they shared after conservatives complained of their “unfeminine appearance.” The incident follows a series of discriminatory comments from politicians and religious leaders last year that revealed deep homophobic sentiment in the government. |
|Reese Witherspoon: How Mindy Kaling helped me see my white privilege|
|Michelle Obama just ripped up the playbook for former first ladies|
|Just how much money will Kim Kardashian’s surrogate be making?|
|Female BBC stars steal the limelight to demand action over gender pay|
|—Shauna Pomerantz, an associate professor at Brock University in Ontario, on girl power in the Trump era.|