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Mother’s Day, Oprah Winfrey, Becky Hammon: Broadsheet May 14

May 14, 2018, 11:45 AM UTC

Good morning, Broadsheet readers! Women are winning more state primaries and delivering more graduation speeches than ever. Plus: A brief rundown of Mother’s Day. Have a motivating Monday.


Celebrating moms. Hopefully, you all remembered to wish the maternal figure in your life a happy Mother's Day. But aside from Hallmark cards and flowers, what is the holiday actually about? Fortune's Grace Donnelly brings us the history of the second Sunday in May:

"The idea dates back to the 1850s when women in West Virginia organized into Mother’s Day work clubs that worked to reduce infant mortality and improve sanitary conditions for mothers and families. During the Civil War, these groups also cared for wounded soldiers from both sides. After the war ended in 1865, women planned Mother’s Friendship Day picnics in an effort to bring Union and Confederate loyalists together, urging them to promote peace. “Battle Hymn of the Republic” writer Julia Ward Howe started a “Mother’s Peace Day" around this time, which encouraged mothers to support antiwar efforts on behalf of their sons' wellbeing."

Today, many mothers have roles outside of childcare. Working Mother celebrates the holiday with its annual list of the 50 Most Powerful Moms. No. 1 on the list this year is comedian and TV producer Samantha Bee, who is a mother of three.

We at Fortune also took this as an opportunity to hear how some powerful women we admire think about having both families and illustrious careers: Some highlights:

  • First Lady Michelle Obama: “For me, being a mother made me a better professional, because coming home every night to my girls reminded me what I was working for. And being a professional made me a better mother, because by pursuing my dreams, I was modeling for my girls how to pursue their dreams.”
  • Huffington Post founder Arianna Huffington: “I think while all mothers deal with guilt, working mothers are plagued by guilt on steroids.”
  • PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi: “You will look back and it will hurt like hell.”


 Mommy issues. On the subject of motherhood, Politico dives into the complex relationship between President Trump and his own mom, arguing that "the best explanation for the president’s behavior dates back to his earliest interactions with his mother." In fact, Trump's lack of closeness to his mother, Mary Trump, "may have contributed to his tumultuous personal life, but it also endowed him with some traits that made him well-suited to his late-career entry in politics." Politico

 Oprah orates. It's graduation season, and for the first time in at least two decades, women make up the majority of commencement speakers. One of these women, Oprah Winfrey, delivered a much-talked-about speech at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism on Friday. She implored the graduates to “be the truth” in a world where “you can’t go anywhere—you can’t stand in line at Starbucks, you can’t go to a party, you can’t go anywhere without everyone talking about how bad things are, how terrible it is.” Fortune

 Women winning. More than three in five female House candidates won their primary races over the weekend in North Carolina, Indiana, West Virginia and Ohio. Equally notable: Of the 27 female House candidates who were successful, nearly 30% are women of color. Politico

 Bridget talks blockchain. Bridget van Kralingen, IBM’s SVP of global Industries, platforms and blockchain, spoke to Fortune on our latest episode of Balancing the Ledger. Among other uses, she believes that the blockchain—which can make it easier to track the provenance of ad dollars—can be used to help Facebook with its problem of fake news and Russian-funded political ads. Fortune

MOVERS AND SHAKERS: Progressive's board of directors has elected Lawton W. Fitt as chairperson.


Becky knows ball. This open letter by Pau Gason has been all over my social media feeds. In it, the NBA all-star knocks down "a few of the silly arguments and talking points against Coach [Becky] Hammon’s candidacy—and the larger idea of a female NBA head coach—that I’ve seen floating around." He's darn convincing. The Players' Tribune

 Intersectional invisibility. Researchers conducted in-depth interviews with 59 senior black female executives, seeking "to understand the barriers they faced, their strategies for ascending through the organization, and the tools they used to manage significant organizational change efforts and navigate career risks." The full outcome of the study is worth reading in full, but one important takeaway was what the researchers termed "intersection invisibility"—that many black women executives feel they physically stand out yet are constantly overlooked.  Harvard Business Review

Investigating Eric. Who is Madeline Singas, the prosecutor appointed by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to investigate Eric Schneiderman (the state's former attorney general who was accused of physically assaulting four women)? She's the district attorney for Nassau County and, in the words of one of her professional acquaintances, is "very well-known for doggedly pursuing crimes against women and violence against women." New York Times

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It is a well-known fact, if you are a woman of color, people believe what you say less.
Salma Hayek, actor and producer