Why can’t New York City elect a female mayor?

July 8, 2021, 12:53 PM UTC
New York City Mayoral Candidates Join AAPI Community For Unveiling Of Chinatown Mural
New York City mayoral candidates Kathryn Garcia and Maya Wiley speak at the unveiling of a mural in Chinatown on June 20, 2021 in New York City.
Kena Betancur—Getty Images

Good morning, Broadsheet readers! The Gates Foundation comes up with a divorce backup plan, Emily Weiss’s Glossier raises new funding, and New York gets its 110th male mayor. Have a lovely Thursday.

– Mr. Mayor, again. 110 mayors. All men. New York is arguably one of the U.S.’s most progressive cities, why is its mayoral glass ceiling still intact?

That’s the question some are asking now that Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams has officially won the city’s Democratic primary, edging out a diverse slate of candidates that included former Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia, civil rights lawyer Maya Wiley, and former nonprofit executive Dianne Morales. The general race is set for November, but in the heavily Democratic city, Adams is all but guaranteed to win.

Debbie Walsh, director of the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University, says female candidates are at a disadvantage in a city whose powerful political organizations and labor unions are predominantly male.

“The more gatekeepers that are out there for a candidacy, the harder it is for folks that are perceived as outsiders. Women still, unfortunately, fit that definition in New York City politics,” she told Bloomberg.

Another culprit? Sexist stereotyping and bias.

“[Women] are not seen as what is sort of the image of the mayor of New York City,” Walsh says.

Even allies cast Garcia, who finished second to Adams in the ranked-choice primary, as an ideal pick for deputy mayor—not chief executive.

There is some good news here. More and more women—Black women, in particular—are running major U.S. cities, even as New York continues its all-male streak.

What’s more, Garcia only lost to Adams by 8,426 votes. “This campaign has come closer than any other in history at breaking that glass ceiling and electing New York City’s first female mayor,” Garcia said on Wednesday. “We cracked the hell out of it and it’s ready to be broken.”

And those who preceded Garcia, Wiley, and Morales say this round of candidates seemed more themselves on the campaign trail.

“Kathryn and Maya and Dianne have been exceedingly authentic,” said former City Council speaker Christine Quinn, who ran for mayor and lost in 2013. “That is a real credit to them and a huge step forward.”

Claire Zillman

The Broadsheet, Fortune’s newsletter for and about the world’s most powerful women, is coauthored by Kristen Bellstrom, Emma Hinchliffe, and Claire Zillman. Today’s edition was curated by Emma Hinchliffe


- Staying competitive. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo told Fortune's Maria Aspan in a new interview that companies and lawmakers need to take women's economic crisis more seriously, arguing that women's labor force participation is essential to the U.S.'s global competitiveness. Fortune 

- Separation agreement. The Gates Foundation revealed new governance plans for the $50 billion charitable organization. If in the two years following their divorce, either Bill Gates or Melinda French Gates decide they can no longer work together, French Gates will leave the foundation. Under those circumstances, she would "receive personal resources from Gates for her philanthropic work." Fortune

- Billion-dollar beauty. Glossier, the beauty brand led by CEO Emily Weiss, raised $80 million in Series E funding, valuing the company at $1.8 billion. The funding will in part go toward an expansion of physical retail stores. Business of Fashion

- First lady emergency. The assassination that left Haitian President Jovenel Moïse dead also seriously injured Haitian First Lady Martine Moïse. The first lady was set to be transported to the U.S. via medevac plane. Politico

MOVERS AND SHAKERS: The Ironman Group hired Roshanie Ross as chief digital officer. ServiceNow hired Jacqui Canney as chief people officer. The dating app Hinge promoted Michelle Parsons to chief product officer. 


- Rent or buy? Renting clothes from businesses like Rent the Runway may be one of the least sustainable ways to shop, according to a new study. The transportation and dry cleaning required for rental businesses make them worse for the environment than resale and recycling. Guardian

- Clear path ahead. Last week, the biometrics company Clear, best known for its service in airports, went public via the New York Stock Exchange. The business is led by CEO Caryn Seidman-Becker who says the company sees "enormous opportunities" to move its technology beyond airports. Its stock is now trading around $41, close to its listing price. CNBC

- Considering quitting. A quarter of women and a third of employees of color in private equity want to leave their employer within the next year, according to a new survey. That's a worrying sign for the industry, which is already dominated by white men. Bloomberg


‘Guys’ isn’t a gendered word anymore. It’s fine to use with everyone Washington Post

Saweetie wants you to see her sweat Vulture

Maya Moore isn't finished working Glamour


"We are going to make a big bet on equity. It’s our moonshot, really."

-Planned Parenthood president Alexis McGill Johnson on the future of the organization

Subscribe to Fortune Daily to get essential business stories straight to your inbox each morning.

Read More

CEO DailyCFO DailyBroadsheetData SheetTerm Sheet