Good morning, Broadsheet readers! The Trump administration moves to define gender as assigned at birth, women face much worse consequences for messing up at work, and pregnant women still lack the protection they need at work. Have a motivated Monday.
• Work at its worst. The Broadsheet, largely because we’re a Fortune publication, often focuses on the challenges faced by women who do their work in meeting rooms, at computers, and on conference calls. And while women who work on a factory floor, or any other place where manual labor is an essential part of the job, may face many of those same issues—like sexism, unequal pay, harassment—they must also contend with physical difficulties, which, at their worst, can be deadly.
This devastating New York Times investigation of a Tennessee warehouse owned first by New Breed Logistics and then XPO Logistics—both Verizon contractors—finds that at least six women working at the facility have suffered miscarriages since 2014 as a result of their work. All asked for lighter duties. Several brought doctor’s notes. All say their requests were ignored.
They are not alone—the NYT’s reporting also turned up numerous women employed by other companies who have similar stories. Their experiences show that the problem goes far beyond warehouses—and into hospitals, post offices, airports, stores, prisons, fire departments, restaurants, pharma companies, hotels, and beyond.
Unbelievably, the law does almost nothing to protect these women. As the Times reports:
“Under federal law, companies don’t necessarily have to adjust pregnant women’s jobs, even when lighter work is available and their doctors send letters urging a reprieve…In every congressional session since 2012, a group of lawmakers has introduced a bill that would do for pregnant women what the Americans With Disabilities Act does for disabled people: require employers to accommodate those whose health depends on it. The legislation has never had a hearing.”
I urge you to read the whole piece, both to hear the stories of these workers in their own words, and to learn more about which lawmakers have blocked stronger protections from going into effect and what rationale they offer for their actions—or lack thereof. New York Times
ALSO IN THE HEADLINES
• All the intel on A.I. Fortune‘s latest issue has a couple of features you might want to check out. The cover package—25 ways A.I. is changing business—includes a look at how artificial intelligence firm Affectiva, led by CEO Rana El-Kaliouby, is teaching machines to read our emotions. It also digs into the way A.I. is changing hiring and managing, led by companies like Frida Polli’s Pymetrics and Kieran Snyder’s Textio. For a look at companies that are growing at a startling clip, take a peek at our Future 50 list, which includes some names you might not yet know–including Ctrip, China’s leading online travel agent, which is led by CEO Jane Jie Sun, and Korean tech giant Naver, led by CEO Seong-Sook Han.
• ‘Defining transgender out of existence.’ The Trump administration is reportedly taking steps to eliminate protections for transgender people by removing the category from the government’s legal lexicon. The Department of Health and Human Services is behind the effort to “define sex as either male or female, unchangeable, and determined by the genitals that a person is born with.” New York Times
• Finding a diagnosis. Actress Selma Blair revealed this weekend that she has been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis—and in the process highlighted how women and their symptoms are often dismissed by the medical establishment. “I have had symptoms for years but was never taken seriously until I fell down in front of [my doctor],” Blair wrote on Instagram. Vulture
• Overplayed vs. overlooked. When women mess up at work, those weaknesses are overplayed, while men’s shortcomings are overlooked. And the phenomenon hurts women’s careers across a range of industries: in medicine, for instance, female surgeons who have a patient die see referrals drop 54%, while male surgeons see no decline. Wall Street Journal
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
• Bollywood boss. Guneet Monga is a powerful producer in Bollywood. Her work is somewhere between commercial and arthouse, and it’s reshaping the film industry in India. Bloomberg
• Mocking in Minnesota. Rep. Jason Lewis (R-Minn.) once mocked women who experienced trauma over sexual harassment and “unwanted sexual advances.” The congressman used a disbelieving, almost mimicking voice to minimize the experiences of women who experience harassment. “Come on! She wasn’t raped,” he said at the time. CNN
• Super Bowl stand. Rihanna reportedly turned down the upcoming Super Bowl halftime show because of her support for Colin Kaepernick, who kicked off police brutality protests and is now suing the NFL over blacklisting him as a player. The show is instead rumored to feature Maroon 5. Vanity Fair
ON MY RADAR
Terry Gross of ‘Fresh Air’ on the art of getting personal Washington Post
A woman becomes a nightingale: The history of rape as a means of silencing women Longreads
How Kelly Rowland fell in love with color The Atlantic
Cynthia Horner is breathing new life into Right On! magazine Shondaland