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A Penney Saved, a Swift Kick in the Polls, Cracks in the Nobel Ceiling, and More

October 9: Badass women and the news that affects them

Mitra Norowzi
Contributor

Company Culture

  • J.C. Penney, the department chain that has seen better days to say the least, has appointed Jill Soltau, CEO of fabric and crafts retailer JOANN Crafts and Hobbies, as its new CEO to breathe life into the company’s stagnating sales. Soltau’s appointment also means that the number of women leaders of Fortune 500 companies is back at 25 after Indra Nooyi’s resignment from Pepsi this summer. Forbes

  • It’s been quite a month for Facebook employees, between the founders of Instagram leaving the company and the recent data breach. Adding to internal (and external) turmoil, Facebook’s vice president for global public policy, Joel Kaplan, sat behind his friend Brett Kavanaugh at Kavanaugh’s congressional testimony without warning Facebook employees or leadership. Women working at Facebook also expressed disappointment that Facebook’s COO Sheryl Sandberg didn’t speak out on the topic. New York Times

  • Amazon made waves last week after the e-commerce giant announced it would raise its minimum wage to $15 in the U.S. and U.K. But, the raise comes at a price for hourly employees who will no longer enjoy monthly bonuses or stock option awards. Fortune (To read more on why the fight for $15 is a feminist issue, click here.)

Pressing Issues

  • Discussion of the implications of sexual assault are looming large in the minds of Americans in the wake of last week’s turbulent Senate confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh. We’ve heard a lot — more than is warranted, we’d say — about the effects of such cases on the perpetrators. But a study released last week challenges us to consider the life-long health effects women face as survivors including high blood pressure, anxiety, depression, and insomnia, to name a few. CNN

  • It’s fair to say that most of us are aware of how vastly underrepresented African American students are in higher education, with enrollment numbers hovering around 12 percent. But a lot of us might not be as cognizant that Black representation in higher ed faculty is even worse at just 6 percent, down from 7 percent in the mid-2000’s. Researchers cite exclusive hiring practices that prioritize candidates from elite universities and recommendations from current faculty members and toxic work environments for Black faculty once hired as possible reasons for such low stats. Hechinger Report

  • Time’s Up has found its first CEO in WNBA president Lisa Borders. The anti-sexual harassment organization, which was founded nine months ago, hopes Borders in her new role will help Time’s Up address three areas of focus across various industries in its mission: cultures, companies, and laws. Fortune

Women Making Waves

  • Dr. Frances H. Arnold has become the fifth woman in history to win a Nobel Prize in chemistry for her work with the directed evolution of enzymes. New York Times

  • In more ridiculous Nobel Prize news, Canadian physicist Dr. Donna Strickland, has become the third woman in history win a prize in physics. The gag is that the University of Waterloo, where Strickland works, has not yet named her as a full professor. Imagine — a fully-fledged Nobel Prize winner, stuck as an associate prof. Fortune

  • Jenny Saville is now the top living female artist at auction. Her self-portrait, “Propped,” sold for $12.4 million at Sotheby’s in London. (The auction record for a living male artist is $58.4 million for a Jeff Koons sculpture.) Bloomberg

Politics

  • Look what you made her do! Never in our wildest dreams did we expect Taylor Swift to shake off her reputation as a political bystander. In an Instagram post Monday, she endorsed Democratic U.S. congressional candidates Phil Bredesen and Jim Cooper; emphasized the importance of equal rights for women, members of the LGBTQ+ community, and people of color; and encouraged her followers to educate themselves and vote. The result was a voter registration spike of 100,000. Looks like neutrality has gone out of style. ABC News

  • United Nations ambassador Nikki Haley — one of the only four women and four people of color on President Trump’s cabinet — has officially resigned, effective at the end of this year. Haley was an early critic of Trump before he appointed her to his cabinet, after which she stood in support of his policies. Some have speculated that she intended to use her position as a stepping stone to a potential presidency in 2020, but she has announced that she has no plans to do so and will instead be campaigning for Trump’s re-election. New York Times

Recommended Reading

  • It’s now officially been a year since the New York Times reported allegations of sexual abuse and misconduct against Harvey Weinstein in what it now regarded as the sort of unofficial start to the #MeToo era of reckoning. Since, at least 425 prominent people across various industries have faced public accusations of sexual misconduct. In order to fully appreciate the scope of this movement, you NEED to check out this article and graphic by several Bloomberg reporters. Bloomberg

  • Regardless of where you stand politically on the allegations of Brett Kavanaugh, it’s important to acknowledge just what this case has meant to #MeToo, to survivors, and political leaders as a whole. After Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Supreme Court on Saturday, many are left wondering if all the efforts to uncover truth through Dr. Ford’s testimony were for nothing. The Atlantic’s Megan Garber offers a resolute ‘no’ it was not. The Atlantic

Around the World

  • Women have long been responsible for performing countless hours of unpaid labor in their households — from cooking, to cleaning, to caring for the kids. The British Office for National Statistics has finally put a monetary value on that work, reporting that these unpaid contributions to Britain’s economy add up to about 1.2 trillion pounds a year, or about $1.6 trillion. New York Times

  • The Trump administration recently announced that it will deny visas to same-sex partners of foreign diplomats and UN employees. But, as critics of the new policy point out, for most of these officials, marriage isn’t an option, as only 12 percent of UN member states have legalized same-sex marriage. Foreign Policy

  • The Australian government has eliminated the sales tax on tampons and other menstrual hygiene products. New York Times

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By Mitra Norowzi

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