The Angela Merkel era comes to a close

September 27, 2021, 12:53 PM UTC

Good morning, Broadsheet readers! Rep. Karen Bass may run for mayor of L.A., Anita Hill and Christine Blasey Ford chat for a new podcast, and it’s the end of an era in Germany. Have a great Monday.

– End of an era. Before Germany went to the polls this weekend, at least one outcome was certain: this election would mark the end of Angela Merkel’s 16 years as chancellor.

For many German voters—especially young voters who don’t remember a time before Merkel—this election was the among the biggest of their lives. In the Sunday vote, the Social Democratic Party squeaked out a narrow victory over Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union, signaling a demand for at least some change.

Handing over control to another party isn’t the outcome Merkel wanted as she left office, but, given recent polling, it’s not surprising. At one point, Merkel had a carefully-considered succession plan, but that strategy blew up in 2020 when CDU leader Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer resigned amid a political scandal. Since then, Merkel’s involvement in the race for her job has been less hands-on; she only hit the campaign trail with CDU candidate Armin Laschet in the week before Germans went to the polls.

There are a few factors at play in these results, including voter fatigue after 16 years of Merkel and CDU leadership. Over the past few weeks, article after article has examined Merkel’s legacy—including areas in which her decade-and-a-half in office hasn’t moved the needle for women. There are the persistent gender gaps in German boardrooms, the realities of German workplaces still unfriendly to working mothers, and a national political landscape that doesn’t look that different for women than it did when Merkel first rose to national office.

But zoom out to the global level, and Merkel’s impact is clearer. For almost two decades, the chancellor was the most visible and powerful female world leader on the planet. Merkel’s leadership may not have led to full gender equity in German politics or business, but that would have been a tall order for any one politician. Instead, as Merkel leaves office, she’s no longer the only woman at the global table. And that counts for something.

Emma Hinchliffe

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


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- Calling for care. In an op-ed for Fortune, Sen. Tammy Duckworth and Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo argue that Congress must pass the Biden administration's Better Care Better Jobs Act, which includes historic investment in Medicaid home and community based services. That program is the "backbone" of the U.S. care economy, the politicians say. Fortune

- Stock up. There's still a major gender gap in stock options, a survey for the WSJ finds. Twenty-four percent of male employees hold stock options compared to 17% of female workers, but the bigger gap is in the value of that equity; men's averages $104,902 to women's $26,361. WSJ


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"Almost all of them have the same story I have, which is someone else saw it in them before they saw it in themselves."

-Dick's Sporting Goods CEO Lauren Hobart on how female CEOs view themselves

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