Good morning, Broadsheet readers! USA Gymnastics settles with Larry Nassar victims, Democrats rush to save the child tax credit, and a former employee says she was repeatedly sexually harassed at Elon Musk’s SpaceX. Have a productive Tuesday.
– Speaking up alone, together. It’s been three months since a group of former employees wrote an open letter about what they called a sexist, toxic work environment at Jeff Bezos’s commercial spaceflight company, Blue Origin. (At the time, the company said it “has no tolerance for discrimination or harassment of any kind.”) Their decision to speak out inspired at least one other person to take action: Ashley Kosak, a former engineer at Elon Musk’s SpaceX.
In her own letter published this morning (on the website of the firm Lioness, like the Blue Origin piece), Kosak writes that she experienced and witnessed sexual harassment at SpaceX from the time she started as an intern in 2017 until her resignation as a full-time engineer last month. She says she met with human resources or management at least four times about these concerns, to little effect. Ultimately, her efforts to punish or change these behaviors led to the deterioration of her own mental health; she resigned after suffering panic attacks this fall. (SpaceX did not respond to a request for comment about the allegations.)
I spoke to Kosak last night, hours before her letter published early Tuesday morning. “It’s a bros’ club,” is how she describes the culture at SpaceX. “If you’re able to be part of the social atmosphere, it’s really helpful for your career. But if you’re a woman, you’re only seen as a potential dating option.”
Perhaps some of this is not that surprising in an incredibly male-dominated industry like aerospace and at a company whose founder is known for posting flippant remarks about serious issues on Twitter (you can read more details about the allegations in my story here). But unsurprising is not the same thing as acceptable, and Kosak hopes that by speaking up, other women will also be compelled to advocate for their own safety at work.
Kosak, like Blue Origin’s ex-employees before her, is part of a growing trend: workers successfully learning how to amplify their voices, so their perspectives are heard not just in lawsuits and behind closed doors, but in public alongside the voices of their powerful CEOs.
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
- Settlement on board. USA Gymnastics and the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee will pay $380 million to victims of former team doctor Larry Nassar, in a settlement over the organizations' handling of Nassar's sexual abuse. As part of the settlement, a Nassar survivor will now sit on USA Gymnastics' board of directors. CNN
- Risks of rankings. Ranking employees during the performance review process often penalizes women, new research finds. The disparity comes from how men and women react to competition when they know they'll be ranked: men believe they excel in competitive environments, while women often avoid harming others, and perform worse as a result. Harvard Business Review
- Final countdown. Democrats are up against a Dec. 31 deadline to save the child tax credit. Lawmakers are citing the payments to parents as a key force in negotiations with Republicans (and Sen. Joe Manchin), with Sen. Sherrod Brown calling the program the "most important thing we did in calendar '21." Politico
MOVERS AND SHAKERS: Girls Who Code founder Reshma Saujani is joining the board of enterprise customer data infrastructure company mParticle. Akamai promoted Kate Prouty to chief information officer. WebRTC video and audio developer platform Daily hired Sarah Milstein as VP of engineering. Former Outreach CMO Margaret Arakawa is joining Fastly in the same role.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
- Home cooking. It's been more than a year since food personality and cookbook author Alison Roman criticized Marie Kondo and Chrissy Teigen in an interview, and was subsequently accused of anti-Asian racism. Today, Roman is still working in food, building her own platform apart from her former employers—and reflecting on what she's learned since what she calls "What Happened." The New Yorker
- Crisis comms. Warning 🚨: And Just Like That spoilers ahead. After Mr. Big's death by Peloton in the Sex and the City reboot, Peloton spun into damage control mode. The exercise bike company hired actor Ryan Reynolds' agency to put together a spot, in 48 hours, featuring actor Chris Noth—very much alive—with Peloton instructor Jess King. Reynolds credits much of the idea and speed to Peloton CMO Dara Treseder. Adweek
- Kim K., esq. Kim Kardashian announced she passed California's "baby bar" exam, a precursor to the bar, on her fourth try. Passing the exam puts Kardashian one step closer to her goal of becoming a lawyer through apprenticeship, rather than law school. WSJ
ON MY RADAR
Call Your Girlfriend is happy to end on their own terms Vulture
‘I felt like no one truly listened’: The invisible toll of fibroids on Black women NYT
Domestic abuse survivors don't just 'snap' The Cut
"People need to feel love and not shame."
-Sandra Lindsay, the New York nurse who was the first person in the U.S. to receive the COVID-19 vaccine in December 2020, on her advice for getting people vaccinated
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