Office Thermostat, Air Force, Family Bill of Rights: Broadsheet May 23

Good morning, Broadsheet readers! Cold offices hurt women’s productivity, Kirsten Gillibrand introduces the Family Bill of Rights, and what’s next for the woman who’s become Enemy No. 1 of Big Tech. Have a terrific Thursday.


[bs_bullet_primary] What’s next for tech’s nemesis. The European Parliament elections kick off today and folks in Silicon Valley–and Washington, D.C., for that matter–may be paying especially close attention to the narrative highlighted in a new Fortune piece by Geoff Smith: the contest could launch Margrethe Vestager, European Commissioner for Competition and nemesis of U.S. tech giants, into the EU’s top job of Commission president.

U.S. President Donald Trump has characterized Vestager as “really hat[ing] the U.S.” Vestager has denied being anti-American, but the reputation is based on a lengthy charge sheet: she forced [f500link]Apple[/f500link] to repay $17 billion in taxes, fined [f500link]Google[/f500link] over $9 billion for antitrust violations, required tax repayments from Starbucks, made [f500link]Visa[/f500link] and [f500link]Mastercard[/f500link] cut some of their fees by 40%, and is still weighing the possibility of probing whether gives its own merchandise an unfair advantage. To Vestager’s credit, she has also gone after non-American entities like Russia’s Gazprom, Europe’s trucking industry, and a proposed rail business merger between Germany’s Siemens and France’s Alstom.

Vestager’s experience as competition czar could catapult her to Commission president since the pursuits of her current role have “given her a perfect stage to showcase herself as a champion of normal people, a rarity in an EU often criticized for being aloof and removed from its citizens’ concerns,” as Geoff puts it. It will take specific vote tallies, political maneuvering, and perhaps an intervention from Angela Merkel for Vestager to land the job of president. Still, she’s seen as one favorite for a host of reasons–including one that’s worth mentioning here: she would break the Commission’s 62-year streak of male presidents. Just nine of its current 28 commissioners are women. [bs_link link=”” source=”Fortune”] [ceo_attribution author=”Claire Zillman” email=”” twitter=”clairezillman”]


[bs_bullet_primary] Cold-blooded. We already know office thermostats are sexist. But a new study confirms that those male-friendly cold temperatures are hurting women’s productivity. In cold rooms, men scored higher than women on verbal and math tests–but women’s scores improved as rooms got warmer. [bs_link link=”” source=”The Atlantic”]

[bs_bullet_primary] Take 2020 seriously. In a new interview, Anita Hill weighs in on the “will you pick a woman for vice president?” trend. “If we don’t take them seriously as presidential candidates, we are not going to hear those voices. And that would be a tragedy,” she says. [bs_link link=”” source=”New York Times”]

[bs_bullet_primary] Gillibrand’s policy push. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand introduced a signature policy proposal in the 2020 race, called the Family Bill of Rights. It includes a national paid family leave program, a program addressing the shortage of OB/GYNs in rural areas, a federal program to help states create universal pre-K, a requirement that insurance companies cover IVF, and tax credits for adoption. [bs_link link=”” source=”New York Times”]

[bs_bullet_primary] Air Force 2. After the resignation of Heather Wilson, President Trump has tapped a new Air Force secretary: Barbara Barrett, former chair of the Aerospace Corporation and a diplomat under President George W. Bush. Wilson will leave at the end of the month for a university presidency, rather than the job she was rumored to be up for: secretary of defense. [bs_link link=”” source=”CNBC”]

MOVERS AND SHAKERS: Shahira Knight leaves her role as White House legislative affairs director. Michelle K. Lee, former director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, joins the board of 10x Genomics. PresenceLearning hires Cecilia Retelle Zywicki as COO and Laura Sullivan as VP of marketing and communications. Vice Media hires former Mic publisher Cory Haik as chief digital officer. Simran Sethi resigned as director of Netflix international originals.


[bs_bullet_primary] Getting out of Georgia. Hollywood productions are starting to pull out of shooting in Georgia in protest of the state’s anti-abortion legislation. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the projects leading the charge are helmed by women: Reed Morano’s Amazon show The Power and Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo’s comedy Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar. Meanwhile, Nevada, with its majority-women legislature, just removed some restrictions on abortion. [bs_link link=”” source=”Time”]

[bs_bullet_primary] Siri, should your voice be male? A Unesco report finds that, yes, the female voices of Siri and Alexa really do fuel sexism. A problem in particular: the “deflecting, lackluster or apologetic responses” that these virtual assistants give to insults or even gendered compliments. “I’d blush if I could,” is one of Siri’s standard responses. [bs_link link=”” source=”New York Times”]

[bs_bullet_primary] Bye, BBC. BBC producer Karen Martin turned down a promotion as one of two deputy editors in the radio newsroom after discovering the other editor–a man–would make ?12,000 more than her for the same job. After she brought up the gap, she says that BBC increased her pay to address “historical underpayments” but left a gap of ?7,000. [bs_link link=”” source=”Guardian”]

[bs_bullet_primary] Ava’s Hollywood. Before the release of her series about the Central Park Five, When They See Us, Ava DuVernay takes us inside her own mini-studio, where her 50 employees are overwhelmingly women of color. Before she became a filmmaker, DuVernay worked in marketing in Hollywood. “I see the machinery of it, and that has allowed me to never take any of this too personally,” she says. [bs_link link=”″ source=”The Hollywood Reporter”]

Today’s Broadsheet was produced by Emma Hinchliffe. Share it with a friend. Looking for previous Broadsheets? Click here.


Why your diversity initiatives are doomed [bs_link link=”” source=”Fortune”]

We asked the dads running for president what they do for child care [bs_link link=”” source=”Vox”]

Carly Rae Jepsen and the rise of the micro-pop star [bs_link link=”” source=”BuzzFeed”]

Harriet Tubman $20 bill delayed again–this time to 2028 [bs_link link=”” source=”Fortune”]


[bs-quote link=”” author =”Nancy Wigginton, the first woman to read national news on BBC television in 1960. She died at 93 this month”]There were times when I was doing the announcing when I wanted to shout aloud like Shylock, ‘Hath not woman eyes, ears, senses?'[/bs-quote]