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Sarah Sanders Red Hen, Saudi Women to Drive, U.S. Open Pregnancy: Broadsheet June 25

June 25, 2018, 9:21 AM UTC

Good morning, Broadsheet readers! Sarah Sanders get shunned, female CEOs join the reskilling movement, and Saudi women slide behind the wheel for the first time. Have a magnificent Monday!


Hitting the road. Saudi Arabia's roads opened to women for the first time yesterday as the kingdom dropped the last-of-its-kind ban against female drivers.

The move prompted heart-warming stories of women hitting the road. Dania Alagili, for instance, pulled into traffic with her husband and daughter in the car; another daughter was on FaceTime to cheer her on.

“I feel great,” Alagili, 47, told the Washington Post; she'd waited 30 years for this moment. “I feel wonderful. I am born today.”

Aljohara al-Wabli, 54, pulled her son's SUV onto the road at 12:01 local time, telling the Wall Street Journal: "We achieved history today; I have no words to describe how I feel.”

The lifting of the ban is an effort by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to modernize Saudi Arabia as it looks for economic growth beyond its oil reserves. Letting women drive themselves means it's easier for them to work.

But as some Saudi women relish their newfound freedom, others who advocated for it for years are behind bars. In the lead-up to Sunday, the government jailed activists who championed women drivers, accusing them of treason—an effort to instill the idea that reforms are gifts from on high, not rights to be won.

Among those caught in the government's sweep was Aziza al-Yousef, a retired professor at Riyadh’s King Saud University who's considered one of Saudi Arabia's most dogged women's rights campaigners. She's long called for the end of the driving ban and the abolishment of (still enforced) male guardianship laws.

She'd defied the driving ban before it was lifted, telling reporters in 2013 that she'd been driving illegally around Riyadh without "any real problems."

“Twice someone ran at my car and made threatening gestures—one old man, one younger—but it was no big deal," she said at the time. “I’ve driven all over the world. Why not in my homeland?”

Saudi Arabia doesn't want to give any credit to activists like al-Yousef, but women like her are worthy of earnest celebration, as are those getting behind the wheel for the first time.


Cooking up controversy. Another Beltway brouhaha erupted this weekend when the owner of farm-to-table restaurant Red Hen in Lexington, Virginia, asked a diner, Sarah Sanders, to leave. The White House press secretary tweeted about the encounter and restaurant owner Stephanie Wilkinson: "Her actions say far more about her than about me." Wilkinson's business is now caught in a giant political firestorm, but she says she'd do it all again: "This feels like the moment in our democracy when people have to make uncomfortable actions and decisions to uphold their morals.”  Washington Post

Partnering up. The Business Roundtable, an association of U.S. CEOs, on Friday announced a new reskilling effort, dubbed the Workforce Partnership Initiative, that aims to get America’s biggest employers to collaborate with high schools, colleges, and each other on closing the workforce skills gap. Accenture CEO for North America Julie Sweet, IBM CEO Ginni Rometty, and Siemens Corp CEO Lisa Davis will be involved in the roll out, helping lead the project in Chicago, the New York region, and the Southeast, respectively.  Fortune

Courting favor. When Serena Williams entered the French Open last month after taking time off to have a baby, she returned unseeded to the astonishment of critics who said one of the world's best tennis players was being penalized for getting pregnant. The U.S. Open wants none of that controversy and has announced that it will now “revise the seedings if pregnancy is a factor in the current rankings of a player." New York Times

Car crash. Katie Arrington, a candidate for Congress in South Carolina who defeated incumbent Rep. Mark Sanford in the Republican primary, was seriously injured in a car accident on Friday night, sustaining injuries that required surgery. She's expected to be hospitalized for two weeks. Politico

MOVERS AND SHAKERS: Stacey Tank has been promoted from Home Depot’s chief communications officer role to run the [f500link]Home Depot[/f500link] Interiors, Home Depot Exteriors and Home Depot Measurement Services businesses. Poppy MacDonald, currently president and COO of Politico, is the new managing director for USAFacts, a nonprofit founded by former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer. Amy Conway has been named editor in chief of Health.


Redstone's reign. The Wall Street Journal has an excerpt from a new book on Sumner Redstone that examines how his heir Shari Redstone, the vice chair of CBS Corporation and Viacom, "pushed past closed doors, boardroom snickers and a falling out with her father to become the most significant female media owner in America." Wall Street Journal

Hello, Dolly. President Donald Trump's executive order halting the separation of migrant families is expected to wind up before Judge Dolly Gee of the district court in the Central District of California. Gee, a child of Chinese immigrants, has called the treatment of immigrant children in detention “deplorable." She's castigated the government for "fear mongering" as it argued that detaining migrant families at the border was a necessary deterrent. And that was all during the Obama administration.  New York Times

'Gendered echo chamber'. Why are female journalists so much less influential on Twitter than men? A new study of 2,292 Congressional reporters provides some clues. When male journalists reply to other Beltway journalists, they reply to another male journalist 91.5% of the time, leading researches to suggest that “men live in a gendered echo chamber that promotes other male journalists at the expense of female ones." Vox

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How you respond is way more important than what happened.
—Jeanette Epps, a NASA astronaut on being abruptly pulled from a mission to the International Space Station.