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Alek Minassian, Incel, Women of Congress: Broadsheet for April 26

April 26, 2018, 11:37 AM UTC

Good morning, Broadsheet readers! The U.S. is lagging behind on board diversity, Megyn Kelly is struggling to find her footing at NBC, and women just hit a new milestone in Congress. Have a wonderful Thursday.


 Celebrating 20%. While many of you may not have realized there was a special election in Arizona's 8th district on Tuesday, that didn't stop the state from making big, big news for the women of America: With the election of Republican Debbie Lesko, the number of women in U.S. Congress will hit 107, placing women in a full 20% of congressional seats for the first time in history.

Here's how it breaks down: There are currently 78 female Democrats and 29 female Republicans in Congress. Eighty-four of those women will serve as voting members of the House of Representatives (61 Democrats and 23 Republicans). Those numbers don't include the five women who are currently serving as non-voting delegates in the House. Interestingly, this doesn't represent an all-time high for the House; both of the previous two Congresses also had 84 women until the death of Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y) in March of this year.

The big change is in the Senate, where the election of Tina Smith (D-Minn.) to replace Sen. Al Franken in January brought the total number of women to a record 22. Women now make up 23% of the Senate, with 17 Democrats and five Republicans. There are currently four states that have women serving as both sitting senators: California, New Hampshire, Washington, and Minnesota.

At a time when there are very few bipartisan wins to go around, women's ability to make progress in Congress deserves our attention. Congratulations, Congresswomen! Now please get out there and pass some legislation that will help your fellow countrywomen make their own strides toward equality. Fortune


 Eyeliners to investments. Our colleague Polina Marinova talks to Hayley Barna, former co-founder and co-CEO of Birchbox, now a venture partner at First Round Capital, about Barna's transition from operator to investor, her biggest mistakes as a founder, and whether she plans to start another company. Fortune

 The quota question. A new report finds that when it comes to putting women on corporate boards, the U.S.—once the leader in female directors—now lags behind Europe. Why the flip-flop? European countries like Italy, Germany, and France saw the number of women on company boards spike after instituting gender quotas, something the U.S. has shied away from even considering. However, the report also notes that despite advocates' hopes, the mandates appear to have done little to diversify companies' C-suites. WSJ

 Not going to help matters. Alek Minassian, the man who allegedly drove a van into a Toronto crowd on Monday—an attack that killed more than 10 people, most of whom were women—wrote a Facebook post that identified himself as an "incel." Fortune's Chris Morris explains the term—it's an abbreviation for involuntarily celibate, a community that is almost exclusively male and frustrated with its lack of sexual experience and activity. As you might imagine, the group's ethos is extremely misogynistic and accepting of violent threats against women. Fortune

 The $69 million woman. NBC News's $69 million bet on Megyn Kelly appears to be backfiring. Her 9 a.m. hour of the Today show—which the network rebranded Megyn Kelly Today—has so far been a toxic brew of high production costs and declining ratings. WSJ

MOVERS AND SHAKERS: Lindsay Nelson, CMO of Vox Media, is being promoted to be the company’s first chief commercial officer. Peloton has added Jill Woodworth as chief financial officer, Jessica Kleiman as VP, Global Communications, and Jasmine Maietta as VP, Brand Marketing. The company also announced that Pamela Thomas-Graham is joining its board.


 Unscrubbable info. In yesterday's Broadsheet, Val wrote about Yue Xin, the Chinese student who is attempting to gather information about a 1998 rape case at Peking University. Yue says that not only was her request denied, but the school is trying to destroy all records of the crime, including a letter she posted online. In the latest twist to the story, her letter has been stored on a memo accompanying an Ethereum transaction. By placing it in the blockchain, the letter now exists in one of the few parts of the Internet where it cannot be scrubbed away. Fortune

 Getting hormonal. Track and field’s world governing body will publish regulations today that could force some elite female athletes with naturally elevated testosterone levels to lower the hormone with medication, compete against men in certain Olympic events or effectively give up their international careers. The new rules are scheduled to take effect in November. New York Times

 Welcoming Wolf. Comedian Michelle Wolf is having a moment. She's contributed to shows like Late Night with Seth Meyers and The Daily Show with Trevor Noah, has a new Netflix show coming out this month, and will be the featured entertainer at this weekend's White House Correspondents’ Association dinner. New York Times

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Former NFL cheerleaders offer to settle for $1 and a meeting with Goodell New York Times

Britney Spears is launching her own clothing and accessories brand  Daily Mail

Super heroes don't wear ponytails, and yes, it's sexist  Racked

Melanie Griffith explains why you should buy her house in Aspen  Fortune


If someone uses that as an excuse, it’s simply because they don’t subscribe to equality in the workplace.
Sandra Horbach, who runs the U.S. buyouts business for Carlyle Group, on men who say they don't want to mentor women because they're worried about sexual harassment accusations