Good morning, Broadsheet readers! NASA lacks women-friendly spacesuits, we want to know your stories about equal pay (or lack thereof), and the newest class of Fortune/U.S. State Dept/Vital Voices mentees are here! Have a fantastic Wednesday.
A special editor’s note: As you may know, Equal Pay Day is next Tuesday, April 2nd. As we mark the day when U.S. women have finally earned as much as the average man did in 2018, we’d love to hear from Broadsheet readers about your experiences with the pay gap. If you have a story or opinion to share, please send it to Emma at email@example.com. We may use your responses in a future Broadsheet.
• The mentees take D.C. Today’s essay comes to you courtesy of Fortune’s Emma Hinchliffe, who spent yesterday in Washington, D.C. with the latest class of global mentees from the Fortune/U.S. Department of State Global Women’s Mentoring Partnership. The mentees are currently getting acclimated in the capital before heading off to various cities throughout the U.S. to meet their mentors, all of whom are members of our Fortune MPW community. Here’s Emma:
The participants, who arrived in the U.S. earlier this week, started the day at the State Department, where we heard from Wanda Nesbitt, dean of the School of Language Studies at the Foreign Service Institute and a three-time ambassador. She told the group of 19 female mentees how she got from consular work onto the ambassador track. “Sometimes what looks like an awful opportunity for one person may be the right opportunity for you,” she said of taking a job at the Rwandan embassy in 1997.
As we toured the National Mall and the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery, I got the chance to chat with many of the women—some of who are on their third or fourth trip stateside and others who are in the U.S. for the first time.
Glenis Yee, a partner at a law firm in Suva, Fiji who used to be an in-house counsel at the country’s largest insurer, will be shadowing Aetna President and CVS Health EVP Karen Lynch, whom Yee hopes will teach her how to “future-proof” her business.
Inya Lawal runs her own studio and talent management firm in Lagos, Nigeria. She’ll be splitting her time between mentors at Goldman Sachs, whom she’ll ask for guidance on raising capital for her business.
But it wasn’t all mentorship talk. Silvana Gonzalez, who founded the specialty coffee company La Divisa in Colombia, spent part of the day figuring out how to get the coffee she brought for everyone rerouted back to the group after it was taken at airport security. And Akshi Khandewal Bhutani, who founded the ayurvedic products company Butterfly Ayurveda in New Delhi, was preparing to stock up on winter gear at the Mall of America before spending her time stateside with mentors at UnitedHealthcare in Minnesota.
While these women will certainly learn from the MPWs they’ll spend the next few weeks shadowing, many of them agreed that simply having the opportunity to meet one another has already been worth the trip.
“The other entrepreneurs, we all have similar disappointments, and some of us have similar experiences in male-dominated industries,” Lawal said.
In mid-April, the group will meet up again in New York with their mentors to talk about their experiences and say goodbye before heading home. We’ll be there—and we’ll report back on how it all went.
ALSO IN THE HEADLINES
• A metaphor that hits home. In a story that’s got to be the ultimate metaphor for life as a working woman, NASA has backtracked on its announcement that two female astronauts, Anne McClain and Christina Koch, would participate in a history-making all-female spacewalk at the International Space Station. The reason? The organization only has one woman-sized spacesuit. So McClain won’t walk after all—instead, a male astronaut will take her place. Fortune
• Haunted by hearings. In public remarks on Tuesday, potential presidential candidate Joe Biden said he regrets not finding a way to “give [Anita Hill] the kind of hearing she deserved” when she accused now-Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment in 1991. In what’s sure to be a common criticism of Biden should he run, he was lambasted on social media for not taking adequate responsibility for the hearings that sought to undermine Hill’s credibility; he was chair of the committee that conducted the hearings, after all. Associated Press
• Raising the grade. Sen. Kamala Harris unveiled the first major policy proposal of her presidential run yesterday, with a plan to that would channel $315 billion in federal funding over the next 10 years to subsidize pay for public K-12 educators and reward state and local governments for raising teacher compensation even higher. Harris proposes covering the expense with changes to—and presumably an expansion of—the estate tax. She calls the plan “the largest investment in teachers in American history.” NBC News
• Religious objection. Founder Lucetta Scaraffia and the all-female editorial board of the Vatican’s women’s magazine, Women Church World, have quit after “what they say was a Vatican campaign to discredit them and put them ‘under the direct control of men,’ that only increased after they denounced the sexual abuse of nuns by clergy.” Associated Press
MOVERS AND SHAKERS: Former PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi is joining the advisory board of Omnicom’s cultural consultancy called sparks & honey. Meggan Shaw-Butler has joined G5 as senior director of multifamily strategy. And, if you’ll allow us a moment of self-promotion, Fortune Senior Editor Beth Kowitt and I won a SABEW for our 2018 story exposing the sexual harassment accusations against former Tronc chairman Michael Ferro.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
• The many sides of McSally. This fascinating story explores the many contradictions of Sen. Martha McSally, the first American woman to fly in combat. A big one: After testifying movingly about being raped by a senior officer early in her Air Force career—and being utterly failed by the military system that was supposed to protect her—McSally says she’s opposed to legislation that would take the prosecution of sexual assault cases out of the hands of the military chain of command. Instead, she says she will push to reform the current defense system, and will sit on a new Pentagon task force on the issue. New York Times
• Becoming a best seller. Have you read Becoming yet? If not, it seems as though you’re in the minority—Michelle Obama’s memoir was the biggest-selling book of last year and is on track to become one of the best-selling memoirs of all time. Fortune
• McGregor’s last fight? Conor McGregor, the biggest star in the UFC and one of the world’s highest-paid athletes, is under investigation in Ireland after a woman accused him of sexual assault in December. McGregor announced his retirement from the sport yesterday, though a spokesperson says the move is unconnected to the charges against him. New York Times
• So much for ladies first. A new study of health data from 6.9 million Danish people found that women on average were diagnosed when they were about four years older than the age at which the conditions were spotted in men. The researchers aren’t sure why women are being diagnosed later—possibilities include genetics, environmental factors, healthcare biases, or some combo. NBC News
ON MY RADAR
How the sexism of the past reinforces Wikipedia’s gender gap Slate
Advice from a nice girl: How do I take back credit for my idea? Refinery29
Lloyd’s of London unveils lifetime bans for sexual harassment Bloomberg