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Kirstjen Nielsen, Nancy Pelosi, Jeff Sessions: Broadsheet June 21

June 21, 2018, 11:06 AM UTC

Good morning, Broadsheet readers! A prime minister gives birth, the fashion industry has (finally!) decided that verbal abuse is out of style, and we meet two women who beat the odds to land big money from VCs. Have a fantastic Thursday.


 Money, money, money. This Bloomberg analysis of the latest stats about female founders makes it clear that, when it comes to women and VC money, not much has changed: Only 12 of the 250 largest venture capital deals in Q1 of this year went to female founders and all-women founder teams (up from nine in 2015).

It's also a stark reminder that minting more female investors, while important, is not a magic bullet when it comes to putting more cash into the coffers of female-led companies. Indeed, a previous Bloomberg analysis found that the biggest venture firms with female partners were no more likely than all-male firms to back women founders.

While many smaller, women-led VC outfits (BBG Ventures, Forerunner Ventures, and Female Founders Fund are name-checked in the article) are already putting their money behind female entrepreneurs, the behavior of the big firms does matter—especially for founders looking to raise serious cash.

So, what will it take to finally convince the largest players to invest in more women? Chamath Palihapitiya, co-founder of VC firm Social Capital, has a simple answer: More splashy exits. After all, venture capital is all about pattern matching. If women-led companies are selling and IPOing—and making their investors a fat return in the process—the money will come.

Of course, investors' drive to find commonalities among successful entrepreneurs has also helped create the tech stereotype of the 20-something, hoodie-wearing bro. So I was especially gratified to see that one of the two biggest rounds secured by a female founder this year ($100 million) went to 62-year-old serial entrepreneur Stefania Mallett. (Zola, the wedding company led by Shan-Lyn Ma, also raised $100 million earlier in 2018.) Mallett, who a decade ago started EzCater to connect businesses with catering from local restaurants, is refreshingly unjaded about her accomplishment, telling Bloomberg: "When the wire transfer came through, I thought, I've never seen that much money in my life."  Bloomberg


 Welcome baby girl. New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern gave birth to her first child, a girl, today, making her the first elected world leader to give birth while in office in nearly 30 years. She will take six weeks of maternity leave, returning to office in August. She's previously refuted the idea that motherhood would interfere with her ability to lead the country: “I am not the first woman to multitask. I am not the first woman to work and have a baby; there are many women who have done this before." Fortune

 From punching bag to shield. This NYT piece looks at how Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen went from a "target of Trump's immigration ire" to his shield, as she defended the administration's policy (which the president retreated from yesterday) against global criticism. New York Times

 Getting Lux. Term Sheet editor Polina Marinova talks to Lux Capital partner Renata Quintini. The lawyer-turned-VC, who's invested in companies like Cruise, Dollar Shave Club, and Bonobos, weighs in on betting on moonshot projects, working as an investment manager at Stanford University’s endowment, and the importance of a strong ethical foundation in tech. Fortune

 Pretty awful. Chronicling the ugly side of an industry that's all about beauty, The Cut reports that "to the average person, The Devil Wears Prada is a farce. But to those who have worked in fashion, the 2006 film can feel like a documentary." Yet it seems that the constant verbal abuse that was once just part of the fabric of the fashion world is, well, going out of style. The Cut

MOVERS AND SHAKERS: SoulCycle has named Laurel Pinson VP of Content (formerly at Glamour) and Angela Bowers Senior Director of Casting and Creative Development (formerly at Vox).


 In their own wordsIn an opinion issued on June 11, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said that victims of domestic and gang violence will no longer qualify for asylum in the U.S. Time has a moving op-ed written by two women who gained asylum under the old rules. The pair explain how the original policy allowed them to "escape their dangerous situations, and how they think Sessions’ new policy will hurt other women in similar situations."  Time

 Parsing Pelosi's future. Could Nancy Pelosi's 16-year grip on the Democratic leadership of the House be nearing its end? At least 20 of the Democratic challengers now running have publicly rejected her on the campaign trail. If they're victorious, "Pelosi would face a freshman class with a significant bloc of Democrats who are on record promising to oppose her or calling for new leadership." Politico

The 'womp, womp' heard 'round the worldFormer Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski is in the hot seat after responding to the story of a 10-year-old girl with Down syndrome who was taken away from her mother in South Texas with a "sad trombone" noise during a Fox News appearance. Among those who responded with outrage: former Fox host Megyn Kelly, who called him a "coward" who "should not be afforded a national platform to spew his hate," and a slew of parents, including one mom who tweeted, "My son Corey, who has Down syndrome, is twice the man as Mr. Womp Womp.” New York Times

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Where a taboo is leading to the deaths of young girls   New York Times

Ashley Judd sees a role for forgiving men in #MeToo  Quartz

Gina Rodriguez is using her Emmy money to send an undocumented student to college  EW

Amy Adams goes dark: Sharp Objects and a female antihero for a troubled time   Hollywood Reporter


It always felt more badass to me to not be as big a star, or as popular as I could be, in the name of standing behind my choices.
—Actress Alicia Silverstone