Alexander Hamilton really took one for the team this week. The founding father of the US financial system is being shoved aside to make room for a woman on the $10 bill. We don’t know which woman yet—it hasn’t been decided. What’s been decided is that America needs a woman on its paper currency, and fast. And since the $10 note is the next one due for a design refresh, that’s the one she’ll be on.
That’s one way to usher in change. But now imagine if corporate boards took a similar approach to diversifying the C-suite.
“I’m sorry, Bob. You’ve been a great CFO. But we need to quit embarrassing ourselves with our lack of female representation here, and your contract is the next one up for renewal.” The dismal numbers on gender diversity in corporate leadership roles would improve rather rapidly. Bob’s female replacement wouldn’t even have to do a better job than Bob; just doing as well as him would be enough to make the move worthwhile, if you buy the argument—and hopefully you do by now—that diversity is its own reward. But what about poor Bob?
We’ve been so focused on getting women into the corporate pipeline that we haven’t spent much time talking about what happens as they move up the pipeline, encountering fewer and fewer openings the higher they go. Historically this has been a problem for women: They may be qualified, they may have overcome all kinds of gender biases, but they still have to wait out an attrition process to really get their shot. But if the gender gap starts getting addressed with greater urgency, eventually this will become a problem for men—even the good ones.—Heather Landy
Five things on Quartz we especially liked
The looming disaster in Hong Kong’s stock market. An increase in listings and new trading connections with the Chinese mainland are opening the Hong Kong stock exchange up to a flood of new money. And its regulators can’t keep up. Heather Timmons explains why it could be headed for a meltdown.
How mobile banking might be bad for civil rights. A proposed change in US bank regulation would make it easier for banks to offer mobile banking services in lieu of bank branches in poorer communities. Melvin Backman argues that such a move could perpetuate the industry’s history of racial discrimination.
Why India has doesn’t have women as industry leaders. There are plenty of female graduates of the Indian Institutes of Technology, the country’s elite engineering schools. So where are they now? Diksha Madhok talked to more than a dozen 1990s graduates to understand the combination of sexism and family pressures that diverted them from the career path.
American Apparel’s chance at a turnaround. The company is in trouble and still reeling under legal assaults by its ousted chief and founder, Dov Charney. Good thing the new CEO, Paula Schneider, is nothing like Charney, writes Marc Bain, in a survey of the company’s fortunes that also includes a video interview with Schneider.
A guide to cheat-sleeping. Akshat Rathi spent a year successfully experimenting with “polyphasic sleep”—a combination of catnaps and longer bursts that led to him averaging just four-and-a-half hours of sleep in every 24. Delving into the science of sleep, he explains how he did it—but still wouldn’t do it again.
Five things elsewhere that made us smarter
Is Africa really rising? There’s a popular narrative that the continent has escaped its hopeless years and is well on its way to sustainable, steady growth—it just needs a bit of reform and institution-building. Not so, argues Grieve Chelwa at Africa Is A Country. The only reliable path to growth is industrialization, and Africa has less of that than it did in the 1970s.
South Carolina really needs to take down the Confederate flag. In the wake of this week’s massacre in Charleston, the Atlantic’s Ta-Nehisi Coates writes that the state’s contentious veneration of the southern states’ Civil War battle flag is proof of moral cowardice: “Put it in a museum. Inscribe beneath it the years 1861-2015. Move forward.”
Why chicken tenders are the perfect food. When food editor and “professional eater” Helen Rosner is off the clock, her palate “reverts to the palate of a suburban six-year-old.” You won’t catch anyone writing about them on social media, and that’s the point, she writes for Guernica: “There’s no narrative to chicken tenders, there’s no performance. That is the substance of their allure.”
How do you insure a driverless car? Three Bank of England staffers on the bank’s ideas blog speculate on how the insurance industry might be upended. Its future customers may not be drivers but car makers, especially if the rise of driverless cars coincides with a spike in car-sharing and fall in ownership.
Androids dream of electric bananas. Researchers at Google set out to train “neural net” software to recognize features in everyday photographs—buildings, fountains, bridges, and even fruit. Alex Hern at the Guardian, and the Google team itself, recount how a feedback loop distorted and multiplied the images they were seeking, creating psychedelic collages that give us a spooky insight into the workings of machine intelligence.
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