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Ilhan Omar, Katie Bouman, Commuting While Pregnant: Broadsheet April 15

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Good morning, Broadsheet readers! Emma Hinchliffe here today. Rep. Ilhan Omar faces an attack from the president, we meet Amazon’s HR chief, and commuting long distances during pregnancy can have serious consequences. Have a lovely Monday.


• The cost of commuting. Scientists and doctors have long known that there’s a connection between infant health and the distance a pregnant woman has to travel to get to her doctor’s office.

But there’s another link discovered by researchers at Lehigh University and the University of Wisconsin-Madison—between infant health and the distance a woman has to travel to get to her job every day.

In a first-of-its-kind study, scientists Yang Wang and Muzhe Yang examined the birth records of women in New Jersey in concert with their home and work addresses. Adding 10 miles to a pregnant woman’s commute increased the likelihood of low birth weight, delivering via C-section, and intrauterine growth restriction, or when a baby doesn’t reach a normal size as measured throughout the pregnancy.

The reasons are fascinating—both maternal stress, or the stress of commuting long distances, and the simple fact that commuting 50-plus miles twice daily (the Census definition of a long-distance commute) eats into the time a woman has to go to prenatal visits. In fact, this study also discovered a connection between the length of a commute and how early and often a woman makes it to her prenatal checkups, or not.

Like the maternal mortality crisis that crosses income lines for black women (an issue, in related reading, that Rep. Lauren Underwood is tackling), the costs of commuting while pregnant cross economic demographics. The women in this study are relatively wealthy, living in zip codes with average household income of $75,118.40. Many are likely living far away from their jobs by choice, to live in rural or suburban communities.

This particular study has some areas ripe for follow-up; it only measured commutes by distance, leaving out women with commutes that may be short by mileage but long in time and high in stress on public transportation.

You can read more about the study here, including the perspective of Flor Bacasegua, a California woman I spoke to who commuted 45 minutes each way during her fourth pregnancy. And keep in mind the policy implications of these findings: even more proof of our need for paid family leave, including before a child is born.

Emma Hinchliffe


Twin Towers Twitter video. This weekend, President Donald Trump attacked Rep. Ilhan Omar with a crude video that edited remarks she made about the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks with images of the Twin Towers. Omar’s remarks—that “some people did something”—were taken out of context from a speech given at a Council on American-Islamic Relations event. Democratic presidential contenders have been responding to Trump’s attack on Omar with varying degrees of support for the congresswoman. Washington Post

A black hole of Internet trolls. Katie Bouman was celebrated for her research leading to the first image of a black hole. But quickly, Internet trolls and men’s rights types launched a campaign to discredit her work. It’s an upsetting story, for Bouman and for revealing what professional women face every day. NBC News

2020 updates. Today’s 2020 check-in: Politico Magazine examines Elizabeth Warren’s past as a young conservative and what compelled her to leave the GOP; The New Yorker looks at Kirsten Gillibrand’s home base in Troy, New York and some of the challenges she faces; Kamala Harris, who just released 15 years of tax returns, is Hollywood’s candidate of choice; and sexism is very much influencing the Democratic primaries.

Fighting an overdue battle. Jenny Teeson is leading a battle you might not realize we’re still fighting: the one to make it possible to prosecute offenders for marital rape. Marital rape is a crime, but one with loopholes on the books that, in Teeson’s case, let her ex-husband off with a misdemeanor instead of a felony for assaulting her. She’s attempting to change the law in Minnesota. New York Times

MOVERS AND SHAKERS: Best Buy this morning announced that Corie Barry, its CFO and chief transformation officer, will take over as CEO in June. Former Sen. Kelly Ayotte joins the board of Blackstone. Facebook nominated Peggy Alford to its board of directors; she’ll be the first black woman on its board. Deborah Dugan takes over as CEO of the Recording Academy.


Human resources for 647,000. Amazon’s wild pace of growth requires some serious hiring muscle. Beth Galetti is Amazon’s senior VP of human resources—and the only woman at Amazon who reports directly to Jeff Bezos. Fast Company

Woman who works… In case you haven’t seen this one yet, here’s the big Ivanka Trump profile. It documents how she lost her one-time target demographic of liberal career women, going from a Woman Who Works to a “Woman Who Works for Donald Trump.” The Atlantic

The MPW lowdown. If you’re interested in all things Fortune Most Powerful Women (and we hope you are!), check out this podcast with Fortune‘s Pattie Sellers and Rebecca Minkoff. Pattie walks us through the origins of Fortune MPW and “what she’s learned from three decades of listening to other people’s stories.” Superwomen with Rebecca Minkoff

Hillary on two stages. The Women in the World Summit closed out with Susan Rice and surprise guest Hillary Clinton. Speaking of, the new play about Hillary Clinton is about to debut on Broadway; here’s Laurie Metcalf on portraying the presidential nominee onstage.

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