Good morning, Broadsheet readers! Adena Friedman makes an acquisition at Nasdaq, women are behind a boom in luxury spending, and ‘Lean In’ isn’t the only myth Michelle Obama is busting. Have a wonderful Wednesday.
• Michelle Obama: myth-buster. Michelle Obama’s quip about the ‘Lean In’ philosophy being “shit” that “doesn’t work”—which she made during a stop on her Becoming book tour—generated plenty of headlines and Internet guffawing this week. But her assessment told us what we already know: That the ‘Lean In’ gospel preached by Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg in a book of the same name has not been as effective at launching women into positions of power as she (and we) had hoped. Sandberg admitted as much last year: “[I]n terms of women in leadership roles, we are not better off” than we were in 2013, when the book was published, she said.
But Obama’s remark is still worth dwelling on—in its entirety. Here’s the whole quote, according to Vanity Fair:
“Marriage still ain’t equal, y’all. It ain’t equal. I tell women that whole ‘you can have it all’—mmm, nope. Not at the same time—that’s a lie. It’s not always enough to lean in, because that shit doesn’t work.”
Sure, her colorful candor was surprising, maybe even endearing. (If there’s anything worthy of four-letter words, it’s gender inequality, am I right!?) But her segue from unequal relationships in the home to inequality in the workplace was more than just a rhetorical flourish—as a fascinating new study makes all too clear.
The research, which will appear in a forthcoming edition of the journal Gender and Society, comes to this conclusion, as reported by The New York Times: “Most of [Americans] say that while women should have the same opportunities as men to work or participate in politics, they should do more homemaking and child-rearing.”
The findings, based on data from 1977 to 2016, provide clues as to why women’s charge toward workplace equality seems to have stalled, even with increased educational and professional opportunities for women in that same timeframe.
That sentiment—that men are breadwinners and women are caregivers—plays out in real life, with women putting 4 hours a day toward unpaid household work versus men’s 2.5. The belief is also reflected in U.S. policies related to paid leave, child care, and flexible work schedules that don’t account for women also being in the labor force. So women are taking on more paid work as they continue to shoulder a disproportionate share of unpaid work or domestic duties—and they don’t have the resources to get it all done.
The importance of women’s unpaid work can’t be overstated. “If women stopped doing a lot of the work they do unpaid, then the whole economy would collapse,” Shahra Razavi, chief of the research and data section at UN Women, told CNN earlier this year. But those outsize contributions are sucking up time women could be spending on growing their careers.
In short, it’s more than appropriate to connect unequal marriages or households and women’s continued struggle to make meaningful progress at work, as Obama did. So she didn’t just debunk the ‘Lean In’ strategy in her statement, she also hammered a (hopefully final) nail in the coffin of the idea that “work” and “life” are separate, equal forces capable of being balanced.
ALSO IN THE HEADLINES
• Data deal. Nasdaq, led by Adena Friedman since 2017, acquired the alternative data platform Quandl. It’s part of a plan to integrate that technology into an analytics hub inside Nasdaq’s global information services division, which provides information and analysis to investors. Financial Times
• Hey, big spender. Luxury spending in Asia is growing thanks to one demographic: women. More self-made female millionaires and women in top management positions in Asia, and especially in China, are contributing to the booming luxury industry, according to an annual report on wealth in Asia. CNBC
• ‘A woman’s place is in the House.’ Congressional orientation is getting a lot more attention than usual this year thanks to new representatives and their Instagram stories. Elle photographed 27 female incoming members of Congress during their first week of orientation in Washington. You can also watch freshman congresswomen recite the preamble to the Constitution. Elle
• Read the room… Norway’s Ada Hegerberg was the first woman to win the Ballon d’Or award, naming her the best women’s soccer player in the world (this is the first year that the 62-year-old athletic prize has been awarded to female, as well as male, athletes). But a host at the event marred the evening by, for some reason, asking Hegerberg—not long after she gave a speech telling young girls to believe in themselves: “Do you know how to twerk?” The host, French DJ Martin Solveig, apologized and blamed his English skills. Washington Post
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
• Counterstrike. Women in Israel participated in a nationwide strike against domestic violence Tuesday, planned after two girls were killed last week. Protesters stayed home from work, blocked roads in Tel Aviv and smeared roads with red paint, and criticized Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for a lack of action. The Guardian
• Across the aisle. New York Rep. Elise Stefanik was the first female head of recruitment at the National Republican Congressional Committee, but only one of her 100 recruited candidates was elected. Now she plans to focus on primaries, as Democratic women take Congress by storm without similar strides for women on the GOP side. Roll Call
• Behind the scenes. Julianna Goldman, a former correspondent with CBS News, writes about how it’s almost impossible to be a working mom in broadcast journalism. “In this business, perhaps more than any other, out of sight really is out of mind,” she writes of the challenges of maternity leave, contract negotiations, and breaking news. The Atlantic
• The women in the caravan. Ten Central American women tell the Wall Street Journal why they joined migrant caravans, fleeing poverty and violence at home. “I can’t raise my daughter in a place like that,” Mayra Hernandez of Honduras said. Wall Street Journal
ON MY RADAR
Victoria’s Secret has a mean-girl problem The Atlantic
How Chrissy Teigen and Cravings became the anti-Goop Slate
No more ‘We can’t find any black female writers.’ Here are 62 scribes in one photo The Hollywood Reporter