Melinda Gates Says Gender Inequality Is a Laughing Matter: The Broadsheet

August 8, 2019, 10:01 AM UTC

Good morning, Broadsheet readers! Monica Lewinsky will produce the TV version of her own story, Puerto Rico gets (another) new governor, and, it turns out, gender inequality may be a laughing matter. Have a terrific Thursday. 


- Gender inequality. LOL. It's been a dark few days (weeks? months?). And the topics The Broadsheet covers, we admit, tend to be a bit heavy. So let's take a moment to laugh; after all, it's what Melinda Gates wants us to do. 

The philanthropist this week helped launch a campaign called "Equality Can't Wait." The rollout includes a five-minute video of comedians—Maya Rudolph, John Mulaney, Margaret Cho, Fred Armisen, Sarah Silverman, and others—dishing one-liners about gender inequality, a subject that's certainly laugh-to-keep-from-crying material but not exactly ha-ha funny. 

Gates has made the case for approaching the gender gap—and the projected 208-year timeline to close it—with a sense of humor.

"I think comedians can sometimes speak the truth to society about the things that are truly going on and that we don’t want to face," she told The Hollywood Reporter, "and by bringing humor they kind of open people’s eyes, but they also hit you squarely between the eyes: ‘This is actually what’s happening.’ I think it’s a potential good approach to open that door to the conversation."

The video starts with some good one-liners about the issue. My favorite, from Mulaney: "Do men get paid more than women for the same job? Yes. But think about how much work we do. Not only do we have to pitch our own ideas, we also have to pitch our female co-workers' ideas moments after they said them."

The spot then takes a serious turn:

"Not only will I not experience [gender parity], no one on the planet that exists right now as a woman will experience it," says Uzo Aduba.  

The stars wrap up the message with a plea for viewers to start conversations about the issue, in hopes of fixing it. 

Director Natasha Lyonne describes the comedic take on the matter as a sort of last resort. “The statistics are abysmal; the best entry point to tackle an absurdity this profound is to come at it sideways, through comedy—because what else can you do?" she says. "I wanted to create a buoyancy as an antidote to the depressing facts."

And who among us couldn't use a little lift? 

Claire Zillman


- Succession digression. After the Puerto Rico Supreme Court said the island's new governor Pedro Pierluisi had been sworn into office on unconstitutional grounds, Secretary of Justice Wanda Vazquez took the oath of office. Now Puerto Rico's second female governor, Vazquez previously said she didn't want the job. In a statement before her swearing in, she said the island needs "certainty and stability." New York Times

- The Clinton affair. Set your DVRs for September 2020. FX will air Ryan Murphy's project Impeachment: American Crime Story, produced by none other than Monica Lewinsky herself. Lewinsky, who will be played by Beanie Feldstein, says she signed on because of Murphy's commitment to "giving a voice to the marginalized" and the "regretfully, evergreen" nature of the story of a young person at work being taken advantage of by a powerful man. The Clintons are not involved in the project. Fortune

- Mayors vs. Trumps. Ivanka Trump responded to the recent mass shootings by bringing up gun violence in Chicago: "As we grieve over the evil mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton, let us not overlook that Chicago experienced its deadliest weekend of the year," she tweeted. The first daughter quickly drew a response from Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, who called the comments "nonsense tweets from people who don’t know what they’re talking about." Meanwhile in Dayton, Mayor Nan Whaley called President Trump's recent comments on the shooting in her city "unhelpful."  

- Bye, Barneys. Fortune's Phil Wahba weighs in on the decline of Barneys New York. The luxury department store chain is led by CEO Daniella Vitale; with store closures as part of its bankruptcy filing, it will "go back to being a niche player focused on fewer stores with true luxury emporia worthy of shoppers' time and money," Phil writes. Fortune

MOVERS AND SHAKERS: Wunderman Thompson named Melissa Dorko chief growth officer, North America; Liz Valentine CEO, Wunderman Thompson West; and Carrie Philpott president of Wunderman Thompson Atlanta. 


- March for diversity. March for Our Lives, the anti-gun violence organization founded by Parkland students, took a step back from the public eye this year as it addressed criticism around a lack of diversity in the organization and a failure to include police brutality and gun violence as part of its mission. Three young black women, Ariel Hobbs, Tyah-Amoy Roberts, and Bria Smith, have now joined the group's board of directors. BuzzFeed

- Professor President. How does Elizabeth Warren's career as an educator—from primary-school teacher to law professor—play into her bid for president? Rebecca Traister analyzes whether America wants "to be taught." The Cut 

- Big green. Dartmouth College reached a $14.4 million settlement with nine women who said they were raped, sexually assaulted, or harassed by their professors in a Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences lab. "We have learned lessons that we believe will enable us to root out this behavior immediately if it ever threatens our campus community again," Dartmouth President Philip J. Hanlon said in a statement. New York Times

- Beer me. Sexist beverages will be banned from the Great British Beer Festival this year. "Slack Alice" cider, which features an image of a woman and the tagline "a little tart," and clips on beer pump handles that display nearly-nude women are no longer allowed; part of the reason is a survey that found 68% of female drinkers would be unlikely to buy a beer advertised via "laddish" imagery. Guardian

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


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