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New York gets its first female governor—but not the way anyone had hoped

August 11, 2021, 1:23 PM UTC

Good morning, Broadsheet readers! Women are suing Brown University and Goldman Sachs, some Subway franchisees want the brand to drop Megan Rapinoe, and New York gets its first female governor—though not the way anyone had hoped. Have a great Wednesday.

– #MeToo still matters. Just yesterday, Claire covered the #MeToo movement in China, noting that—at long last—the public is beginning to hear the voices of women who’ve faced sexual harassment or assault. Now, from the U.S. comes a reminder that while the domestic movement is no longer racking up quite as many headlines as it did back in 2017, women who speak out still have power—in fact, power enough to bring down one of the country’s highest-profile governors.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced yesterday afternoon that he will step down, a turn of events that would have seemed unimaginable a year or so ago when he was the toast of the pandemic-wracked town, a shoo-in for another term, and a possible future presidential contender. Cuomo was dogged by plenty of scandals, but it was women who shared their stories of being groped or otherwise harassed by him who ultimately forced him to relinquish power (along with New York Attorney General Letitia James and her team, of course).

Cuomo joins a long list of male politicians who’ve stepped down after being accused of sexual misconduct (though it’s worth noting that the list of those who’ve survived extremely credible accusations is not exactly short). In New York alone, his trajectory calls to mind that of former governor Eliot Spitzer, who left office amid a prostitution scandal; former Rep. Anthony Weiner, who was repeatedly caught sexting; former attorney general Eric Schneiderman, who resigned after being accused of physical abuse by several women he’d been in relationships with. (Schneiderman denied the accusations.) That’s an appalling roll call, to be sure, but also one that shows that when the truth comes out, there are consequences.

Lt. Governor Kathy Hochul will replace Cuomo, meaning New York will finally have its first female governor, though what a depressing way to reach that milestone! She has a difficult road ahead, as mapped out by this New York Magazine story: “She faces the task of succeeding an incumbent who has not just kept her out of his inner circle but one who has also controlled Albany for his own political ends and dominated state politics for the better part of a decade.”

Some on social media were quick to note how very unsurprising it is that it will fall to a woman to clean up Cuomo’s mess. I get where they’re coming from, but let’s be cautious about falling back on that trope. After all, we’ve seen in recent days just how many women were involved in enabling and protecting the governor. Hochul may very well prove to be the kind of no-nonsense, get-the-job done leader that many who know her describe, but it’s far too early to know for sure. Anyway, let’s hope so! In this moment, after so much bullying and grandstanding, that’s the kind of leadership the Empire State dearly needs.

Kristen Bellstrom

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 Claire Zillman.


- Ivy League lawsuit.  In a lawsuit, four current and former Brown University students claim the Ivy League school has consistently downplayed reports of "endemic" sexual violence on campus. The lawsuit claims that Brown's inadequate response to complaints of non-consensual sexual contact—which roughly 25% of Brown women say they've experienced—violates Title IX. Brown says it's committed to protecting its students. Bloomberg

- Taking on a soccer star. Some Subway franchisees want Team USA soccer star Megan Rapinoe dropped as a spokeswoman for the fast-food company, citing customer complaints over Rapinoe's equal rights and pay equity advocacy and her National Anthem protests that signal a demand for racial justice. The sandwich chain doesn't own any of its 22,000 locations, but charges franchisees 4.5% of revenue to use the company's brand and advertising campaigns, and restaurant owners say their money shouldn't be used to "make a political statement." Yahoo

- Women vs. Goldman. One of the biggest employment discrimination cases in Wall Street history is trudging along with both Goldman Sachs and the group of women suing the bank asking a judge for summary judgement. The plaintiffs say proof of the bank's gender bias is "overwhelming," while Goldman argues that there's no proof of disparate impact and that "gender disparities exist only in certain groups and certain time periods." Bloomberg

MOVERS AND SHAKERS: President Joe Biden is expected to tap María Luisa Pagán, a longtime government trade negotiator, as deputy U.S. trade representative and ambassador to the World Trade Organization. Vail Resorts named CMO Kirsten Lynch as its new CEO. Kerry Ann James has joined Morgan Stanley Investment Management as head of Client Relations and portfolio specialist for the Counterpoint Global. Lateisha Garrett, previously of Run the World and former Obama White House Liaison at the National Endowment for the Humanities, joins Civitech as VP of Marketing. 


- A.I.-ding women.  Women in the U.S. are twice as likely to die from childbirth complications than women in France and Canada. (COVID likely made the maternal mortality crisis even worse.) But 60% of these deaths are preventable. Now, doctors argue that A.I. could help predict which pregnant women are at high risk. Harvard Business Review  

- Moving the needle. How can companies get more women into the C-suite? In this commentary piece, Allison Long Pettine, managing parter of investment firm Ridge Group Investments, lays out a three-pronged plan that starts with "recogn[izing] new patterns of leadership." Fortune 

- New chapter. After working for Melinda French Gates and Meghan Markle, Catherine St-Laurent has launched her own social impact venture called Acora Partners and is advising the Helm, a firm that invests in female-founded startups. In a new interview, she reflects on this latest chapter: "We think impact work doesn't need to only be in certain places, or in certain spheres, or because we've got a certain amount of wealth, or because you exist in a certain place." Marie Claire


Christina Applegate reveals she has multiple sclerosis CNN

Jennifer Hudson knew Aretha Franklin. To play her, she had to learn more New York Times

Sally Rooney addresses her critics The Atlantic

Meet the woman behind the design world’s best hires Fortune


"I have paid my dues and followed every rule for decades, so now I can break the rules that need to be broken."

- Beyoncé, in a new interview with Harper's Bazaar 

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