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Kirstjen Nielsen and Ivanka Trump on Border Separations, Katrina Lake’s Pregnancy: Broadsheet June 19

June 19, 2018, 11:30 AM UTC

Good morning, Broadsheet readers! Kirstjen Nielsen is lambasted for the border crisis, Melania Trump’s statement puts Ivanka Trump under scrutiny, and Stitch Fix CEO Katrina Lake plans her maternity leave. Have a wonderful Tuesday!


Breaking through the maternal wall? Yesterday I wrote about the all-too-real ways pregnancy discrimination is stunting women's career trajectories, careening them into the "maternal wall" before they get a chance to break any glass ceiling.

The New York Times story that prompted my essay profiled women seeking legal recourse for discrimination. Another way to chip away at the bias is for high-profile women to embrace and normalize pregnancy—having a child, taking leave, and returning to work on the public stage.

Senator Tammy Duckworth fits the mold, as does tennis star Serena Williams. New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who's due with her first child, will soon join this bunch as she starts her maternity leave this week. And so too will Stitch Fix CEO Katrina Lake, who tells Refinery29 that she's expecting her second son in November.

When Lake had her first son, she took 16 weeks of maternity leave, relying on a team that absorbed most of her work. "It worked really well," she says.

She's sticking to that same plan this time around. But one big thing is different: her company is now public after its IPO last November. Lake says that gives her all the more reason to take adequate time away.

"I am not the first public company CEO to be pregnant and I’m certainly not going to be the last. My hope is there are going to be many, many women after me who are going to be thinking about how to do this," she says.

But beyond setting an example for the wider world, she says she wants to be a model for her own employees. There are "a lot of people at Stitch Fix" of childrearing age, and the company wants "to be a place where you can cherish that and also be good at your job." It offers parental leave "to give people the time and space to be able to bond with their children," she says. 

"I have to model that," she says. "The way you act as a CEO is going to reflect on how people at your company think that they should be acting. So if I see my job as one that I'm not going to take the full leave or I’m going to do a halfway thing or I think my job is too important to do it, the message I’m sending to others is that to be successful here they also should be forgoing their leave."

The NYT story notes that many of the companies facing legal action for pregnancy discrimination—Walmart, Merck, AT&T, Whole Foods—all champion women's empowerment on their corporate websites. But as Lake notes, words that aren't backed by actions—and modeled by leaders—are nothing more than marketing.


Kirstjen's crisis. Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen defended the Trump administration's stance on separating migrant families at the border to reporters yesterday. Her remarks caused an uproar as Nielsen falsely blamed Democrats for the current crisis, arguing that DHS is "no longer ignoring the law." Fact-checkers have insisted that there is no law requiring children to be separated from their parents. Sens. Kamala Harris of California and Mazie Hirono of Hawaii, both Democrats, called on Nielsen to resign following the appearance.  NPR

One Trump talks. First Lady Melania Trump spoke out about the family border separations on Sunday in a rare statement on administration policy, saying she "hates to see children separated from their families," and urging lawmakers (or perhaps her husband) to "govern with heart." Some are interpreting her remark as a departure from the White House's official stance; others are calling her complicit. Either way, her comment is drawing attention to an administration figure who hasn't talked publicly about the controversy despite casting herself as a champion of families: Ivanka Trump. Fortune

Upskirting crackdown. The U.K. government is taking up a bill to make "upskirting"—the surreptitious taking of photos up a woman's shirt—a criminal offense. Prime Minister Theresa May says she supports the bill to protect against "an invasion of privacy which leaves victims feeling degraded and distressed." The move follows a campaign by freelance writer Gina Martin who was victimized at a music festival by a man who faced no prosecution.  Guardian

 Skimming with Katie. Veteran TV journalist Katie Couric is expanding her own production company with outside investment in an effort to find sponsorship and distribution outlets for her content. She's already struck one deal with theSkimm for a series featuring profiles of successful women called "Getting There." It's backed by P&G.  Wall Street Journal

MOVERS AND SHAKERS: J. Crew has hired Johanna Uurasjarvi, formerly of West Elm and Anthropologie, as its chief design officer.


Hardwick gets canceled. After being accused of sexual assault and abuse by ex-girlfriend Chloe Dykstra, AMC has noted that it will not air the second season of TV host and Nerdist founder Chris Hardwick's latest show, Talking With Chris Hardwick. He has also reportedly opted out of hosting panels at Comic-Con.  Fortune

 A deep divide in Texas. Lupe Valdez, the Democratic nominee for governor in Texas, appears to be a godsend for the state's close-knit community of liberals: the former Dallas County sheriff is the first Latina and open lesbian to top the Democrats' ticket there. But her past stances on immigration—a paramount issue in Texas—are igniting resistance within her own party.  New York Times

 Bao bae. In 2011, Domee Shi was an intern at Pixar. Fast forward seven years, and she's the first woman to ever direct a Pixar short. Her film Bao is showing before Pixar's blockbuster Incredibles 2 and explores the impulse to devour cute things.  NPR

 Legal hurdles. Caster Semenya says she will legally challenge track and field's world governing body on its recent decision to limit the permitted testosterone levels in female athletes in some races. The Olympic champion called the rule medically unnecessary, “discriminatory, irrational, unjustifiable,” and a violation of the rules of sport and universally-recognized human rights.  New York Times

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Kim Kardashian West isn’t opposed to running for office  The Cut

Sheryl Sandberg donates to charity seeking to unite separated migrant families  Politico

The world’s biggest advertiser wants women to direct 50% of its ads by 2023  Fortune


I started paraphrasing Rihanna because, if we want more of us to shine bright like a diamond, we need to invest in diamonds in the rough.
—Pipeline Angels founder Natalia Oberti Noguera, on investing in female entrepreneurs