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The European Union Finds Its Gender Balance: The Broadsheet

July 3, 2019, 12:15 PM UTC

Good morning, Broadsheet readers! Google’s Jigsaw is reportedly a ‘toxic mess,’ the women at Wimbledon are putting on a clinic, and Europe finds its balance. Have a wonderful Wednesday. The Broadsheet is off tomorrow and Friday for the Fourth of July in the U.S. See you Monday! 


- 'After all, Europe is a woman.' On Monday, The Broadsheet quote was from IMF Chief Christine Lagarde. In an interview last month with The Daily Show's Trevor Noah, she'd referenced the glass cliff, saying, "Whenever the situation is really, really bad, you call in the woman." 

That quote now seems somewhat prophetic. As of Tuesday, France's Lagarde looks destined to become the new president of the European Central Bank, the first woman to hold the job. Top EU leaders have also tapped German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen to head the European Commission, another first for a woman. Overall, women secured half of all nominations for the top jobs in the world's biggest trade bloc. 

The historic selections of Lagarde and von der Leyen historic nominations coincide with a challenging moment for Europe. Lagarde faces the task of finding ways to boost the eurozone economy amid on-going trade wars and weak inflation. And she's entering the job with a somewhat unconventional background; she's a lawyer by training with no central banking experience. Von der Leyen, meanwhile, faces her own lengthy list of tests: Europe's on-going debate over migration, its response to climate change, the continent's nationalist surge, and the ever-looming threat of Russia. 

Their surprise nominations after weeks of political horse-trading point to Europe's divisiveness, and whether their appointments are finalized—both await formal approval—will test its ability to present a unified front.

Nevertheless, the pick of two women who've championed gender equality—Lagarde has presented it as both a moral and economic imperative; von der Leyen led Germany's push for boardroom gender quotas—will break a six-decade streak of male dominance among the leadership ranks of the bloc's most high-profile institutions. Out-going European Council President Donald Tusk, for one, touted the bloc's long-awaited "perfect gender balance." 

“I am really happy about it—after all, Europe is a woman," he said, in a reference to Greek mythology.

Claire Zillman




- Business backs LGBT rights. More than 200 companies including Amazon, Coca-Cola, and IBM signed on to a friend-of-the-court brief urging the U.S. Supreme Court to rule that federal civil rights law bans job discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. Separately, a group of current and former Republicans, including Meg Whitman and former Rep. Deborah Pryce, filed a brief urging similar action.  Fortune

- A toxic Jigsaw. Google's moonshot division, Jigsaw, was supposed to save the Internet—from extremists, censorship and more. But working conditions have left the project a "toxic mess" replete with mismanagement, poor leadership, HR complaints that did not lead to action, retaliation, and a chronic failure to retain female talent. Motherboard

- Playing fields. The U.S. Women's National Team beat England 2-1 to advance to their third consecutive World Cup final—and WNBA legend Sue Bird wrote a heartwarming and hilarious piece about her girlfriend, Megan Rapinoe (and the attacks on her from the president). The men have something to learn from the women at Wimbledon. And Olympic figure skater Mirai Nagasu is figuring out her next chapter—now as a summer intern at a local TV station. 

- Don't bank on it. Bank of America announced last week that it would stop doing business with private prisons. But just a few weeks earlier, the bank had finalized a $90 million portion of a loan to GEO Group, which runs private prisons and immigrant detention centers, and extended the loan from May 2021 through May 2024. Bank of America vice chairman Anne Finucane oversees the bank's environmental, social, and governance efforts and had said it would be leaving the sector as soon as possible after fulfilling contractual obligations after activist pushes on the issue. Wall Street Journal

MOVERS AND SHAKERS: President Trump has tapped Judy Shelton, a former economic advisor to the president, as a nominee to the Federal Reserve's board


- Lawyer up. Who wins when companies get nervous about sexual harassment allegations? The lawyers, of course. Leading London law firm Clifford Chance saw profits rise 2% in the 12 months ending April 30—partly due to clients looking for advice on how to handle sexual harassment allegations and prevent future cases. Bloomberg

- Getting schooled. Why did Karlie Kloss quit Victoria's Secret in 2015? She started studying feminist theory at NYU's Gallatin School. "I didn’t feel it was an image that was truly reflective of who I am and the kind of message I want to send to young women around the world about what it means to be beautiful," the model says. British Vogue

- Art of the pay gap. Washington, D.C. has seen a wave of women take the top jobs at its storied museums. But many of those women were hired at lower pay grades than their male predecessors. Washington Post

Today's Broadsheet was produced by Emma HinchliffeShare it with a friend. Looking for previous Broadsheets? Click here.


BBC significantly increases salaries of top female presenters Financial Times

Cardi B denied trademark for 'Okurrr' catchphrase Guardian

The top CEO candidate abuses women. In this thriller, they fight back New York Times

The Academy's female membership just climbed to a whopping 32% Vanity Fair


You can play the ingenue or you could play the woman who’s got a hunch on her back. Hunchback was always my choice. 

-Actress Linda Cardellini