Good morning, Broadsheet readers! Senators push for an investigation into Liberty University, homeownership is leaving single moms behind, and Dr. Kathleen Hicks is the highest-ranking woman at the Pentagon—and she’s used to being the only woman in the room. Have a restful weekend.
Today’s essay is from Fortune writer Nicole Goodkind
– Only woman in the room. Sitting at a long boardroom table at the Naval Undersea Warfare Center in Newport, Rhode Island, flanked by Senators Sheldon Whitehouse and Jack Reed, Dr. Kathleen Hicks—the first female deputy secretary of the Department of Defense and the highest-ranking woman in Pentagon history—questioned Navy leaders on their commitment to increasing diversity.
“What is it growing by? 1 to 2%?” she asked. Her audience nodded—but quickly discovered that wasn’t the response she’d hoped for: “That was supposed to be a joke.” They would need to do better.
I accompanied Hicks, who oversees the DoD’s $700 billion budget, its 1.3 million active-duty military, 732,000 civilian employees, and the high-level capabilities needed to achieve President Joe Biden’s national security objectives, on a whirlwind two-day trip focused on “green-ifying” the armed forces’ arsenal of vehicles, aircraft, and watercraft. Via a series of flights and motorcades—and a lot of coffee—we visited plants and bases in Michigan, Rhode Island, and Connecticut.
As we we were whisked from location to location, I began to notice a pattern. Aside from myself and one other journalist, Hicks was typically the only woman in the room.
“That’s the space I know,” she told me over a morning coffee in Newport, Rhode Island. “I honestly didn’t even notice it. … It did not occur to me. I’m used to that.” Hicks did appear comfortable in these testosterone-heavy setting, never pausing to, for example, interrupt a man who was over-explaining something to her.
The slow progress on diversity in senior leadership at the Pentagon mirrors the tension at the core of Hicks’s trip: slow progress in technological development and fighting climate-related disasters.
“The challenge we have is that the timeline the Department [of Defense] has been used to on innovation is just plain too slow,” she says. “The more we can catch up to the commercial sector, the more we can help speed up our timelines. We have to be working with Congress and inside our own culture to make sure we can move faster.”
That applies to Hicks’ experience as the only woman in the room—and her work to help the DoD go green. You can learn more about Hicks and her mandate for a green technology revolution at the Pentagon by reading my full Fortune profile here.
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.
ALSO IN THE HEADLINES
- Education and Liberty. Virginia senators are urging the Department of Education to investigate Liberty University's handling of sexual assault claims after a ProPublica story reported "how the evangelical college discouraged and threatened to punish students who report being raped." Liberty's board has voted to authorize an "independent and comprehensive review" and hasn't commented on the reporting or calls for a federal investigation. ProPublica
- Who's a homeowner? Over the past 30 years, single mothers have made up a growing share of homebuyers. But that progress has slid to a halt during the pandemic, when solo earners and women who were forced out of the workforce struggled financially. Now owning a home is a dream out of reach for many single moms. New York Times
- Last clinic standing. Time goes inside the last abortion clinic in Mississippi—which is at the center of the Supreme Court battles over abortion rights. Shannon Brewer is the clinic's director, and she says the day-to-day on site feels more intense this year, even after her two decades fielding protesters and bomb scares. Time
MOVERS AND SHAKERS: Lyft promoted general counsel Kristin Sverchek to president of business affairs; VP and associate general counsel Lindsay Llewellyn will succeed Sverchek as general counsel. Renegade Partners managing director Roseanne Wincek joins the board of video and audio platform Daily. Post-purchase platform Narvar hired Levi's exec Anisa Kumar as chief customer officer.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
- Movie magic. As theatergoers start to return to the movies, one group missing from cinemas is women over 35. The National Association of Theatre Owners reports that women in that age bracket are "one of the biggest remaining groups that are lacking at the box office." WSJ
- Small state, big legacy. Ruth Ann Minner, the first and only woman to serve as governor of Delaware, died last week at 86. President Biden—as a former senator from Delaware—spoke at her memorial service, calling Minner "one of the most remarkable and inspirational people I got to meet." New York Times
- School's in session. What does Hong Kong's chief executive do? Carrie Lam, who holds the title, is set to deliver a lecture to Hong Kong schoolteachers on the constitutional role. The lecture is related to a new subject for Hong Kong students: "citizenship and social development subject." The new subject replaced "liberal studies," which some in favor of closer ties with Beijing blamed for radicalizing student protesters. South China Morning Post
ON MY RADAR
Skiing is different for women. But it doesn't need to be Elle
If this country won't listen to moms, I'm asking men to start shouting NYT
Why Insecure star Christina Elmore chose an all-Black birthing team Women's Health
"I didn’t really know myself. I thought I did."
-Adele, talking about the personal experiences that led to her new album, 30
This is the web version of The Broadsheet, a daily newsletter for and about the world’s most powerful women. Sign up to get it delivered free to your inbox.