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An ’empowering’ change to women’s Olympic figure skating is so subtle you might miss it

February 4, 2022, 1:54 PM UTC

Good morning, Broadsheet readers! The WNBA raises investor money for a business model revamp, female world leaders ease COVID rules, and the Olympics are chipping away at gender disparities. Have a great weekend.

– The Games are beginning. The Olympics, which start today in Beijing, will no doubt offer moving displays of athleticism, sportsmanship, and resolve. No matter the public health or geopolitical controversies swirling around the Games, the athletes’ stories of adversity and triumph pull us in every single time. But the Olympics’ scale and enormous profile also have a downside—they magnify the inequalities of sports and cast them onto the world stage.

The 2022 Winter Games so far have shown some signs of progress on this front. For one, the premiere event of women’s figure skating is getting a subtle name change—it will be called just that: ‘women’s figure skating,’ instead of ‘ladies’ figure skating.’ The tweak is the result of a 2018 review by the International Olympic Committee, which said that “use of ‘ladies’ is inappropriate when ‘men’ is being used. The term should be women.” Many viewers might not notice the new title, but 2021 U.S. champion Mariah Bell, who’s skating in Beijing, told NBC it’s meaningful. “Ladies are great,” she said, “but women are empowered and mature.”

The 2022 Games will also feature seven new events, four of which are mixed-gender competitions. Events like “mixed team snowboard cross” are dismantling long-standing silos that segregated Olympians by gender and are giving women more chances to win gold. 

All told, the athlete make-up in Beijing is expected to be 55% male and 45% female, the IOC says.

But there are still battles to be waged. NPR has the story of women ski jumpers who for years objected to International Ski Federation rules that required female skiers to wear suits that featured extra fabric around the hips. The organization said the additional panels were intended to fit a woman’s body better, but women in the sport argued that they were an excuse to accentuate athletes’ hips and curves. The federation dropped the rule ahead of the Games, but female skiers say that victory shouldn’t mask other disparities in the sport. For instance, the Olympics will feature four ski jumping events for men, but only two for women. 

“That’s that many more opportunities at an Olympic medal,” Canadian ski jumper Abigail Strate told NPR. “That’s that many more opportunities to put yourself out there and show yourself as an athlete.”

Claire Zillman
claire.zillman@fortune.com
@clairezillman

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

- Slam dunk. The WNBA raised $75 million from investors as the league aims to revamp its business model—in part to offer higher salaries to players. Nike, Condoleezza Rice, Laurene Powell Jobs, and NBA and WNBA team owners all invested in the league, which is led by commissioner Cathy Engelbert. New York Times

- Opening up. World leaders that have kept their countries' borders largely shut are starting to reopen as they adopt new strategies to deal with COVID long-term. New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced border reopening plans, while Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson ended restrictions and said the pandemic was entering a "new phase." 

- David vs. women. IPOs are male-dominated at exchanges around the world—including Canada. New reporting about the Toronto Stock Exchange finds that men named David took companies public three times more often than women founder-CEOs in a five-year period. The Logic

MOVERS AND SHAKERS: Ruby Ribbon hired Dana Long as CMO. Pac-12 Conference CMO Danette Leighton joins the Women's Sports Foundation as CEO. The Global Strategy Group promoted Erin Billings to partner. Manna Tree promoted Adriana Tullman to managing director of global investment solutions. Dbt Labs hired Salesforce's Margaret Francis as chief product officer. Former Tesla executive Milo Werner joins MIT's The Engine as general partner. 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

- Fed up. Sarah Bloom Raskin is a Biden nominee to serve as governor on the Federal Reserve. Her nomination has proved controversial with some senators due to her past support of federal regulators taking more action on climate change. The issue came up at her confirmation hearing on Thursday. Fortune

- New name, old problems. Washington's NFL team has a new name—the Commanders—but former team employees appeared before Congress on Thursday to level familiar complaints against the organization; that sexual harassment was rampant and that a 2020 workplace probe should be made public. In a statement, team owner Dan Snyder apologized for the team's culture but called claims by former cheerleader and marketing manager Tiffani Johnston, who said Snyder personally harassed her, “outright lies.” Washington Post

- Bank on it. It's almost been one year since Jane Fraser took over as CEO of Citigroup. The first woman to run a major Wall Street bank has faced a host of challenges since then, like "cumbersome" internal reviews and responses to regulatory scrutiny that ensnare compensation for months on end and weigh on employee morale. CNBC

ON MY RADAR

I didn't start weight lifting because I wanted to be strong The Cut

Dating app Hinge to give single parents $100 childcare stipend Essence

Hollywood discovers the middle-aged woman The Atlantic

PARTING WORDS

"I’m trying to do the best I can, and take a stand when I think I can have an impact."

-Writer Roxane Gay on why she decided to take her podcast off Spotify in the wake of the platform's Joe Rogan COVID misinformation scandal

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