In the midst of a lot of terrible news and hardship for many people in this time of the Covid-19 pandemic, some good news for women’s leadership has emerged in the publishing industry and in politics. Alexandra Alter and Elizabeth A. Harris, writing for the New York Times, report that in the publishing world, “Over the last year, deaths, retirements and executive reshuffling have made way for new, more diverse leaders . . . [that] stand to fundamentally change the industry, and the books it puts out in the world.”
The authors point out that while publishing’s workforce is more than 75 percent white and skews heavily female, men have often held the top jobs. Newly hired leaders in publishing bring different sensitivities and life experience. Here are some of the new leaders:
- Dana Canedy was brought on as the publisher of Simon & Schuster. Canedy is the first Black person to lead a major publishing house.
- Lisa Lucas was hired by Pantheon and Schocken Books to be its publisher. Lucas and Canedy are poised to become the two most powerful Black women in the literary world.
- Reagan Arthur, named publisher at Knopf in January, states, “Ten years from now, I don’t think anything will look the same” in publishing.
- Amy Einhorn is the new publisher of Henry Holt. She and Arthur, both white women, have a reputation for knowing what women want to read and that women tend to buy more books than men.
The world of politics had some historic wins on June 2, 2020, for women of color in primary and local elections across the country.
Elle Jones became the first African American and first woman elected mayor in Ferguson, Missouri, as reported by Jennifer Medina. Jones won a seat on the city council in 2015, the year after Michael Brown, a Black teenager, was shot and killed by a white police officer in Ferguson. With her election to the city council in 2015, she became the first Black woman elected. Her election as mayor breaks down another barrier for the people of Ferguson.
Reid J. Epstein, Jennifer Medina, and Nick Corasaniti report on primary wins for women of color. They note that in spite of the coronavirus pandemic, voter turnout surpassed 2016 levels in nearly all eight states holding primaries in early June. Iowa had the largest turnout for a June primary in the state’s history, and turnout was up 35 percent in Montana, 14 percent in New Mexico, and 12 percent in South Dakota compared with the 2016 primary. Turnout matters.
- In New Mexico, seventeen women won Democratic primaries for the state legislature. New Mexico could have a House delegation that entirely comprises Hispanic and Native American women.
- In Iowa, eleven women won primaries for the state house.
- In Monroe County, Pennsylvania, Claudette Williams, the first Black woman to serve as county chair, won her primary to represent a competitive state House district.
- In Washington, DC, Janeese Lewis George, a self-described Democratic Socialist, beat a sitting city councilman.
- A Cuban American state legislator in Indiana won her primary. If elected, she will be the first Latina congresswoman from Indiana.
- In Idaho, Paulette Jordan, a Native American former state representative, won her Democratic primary.
All of these primary winners must win tough races against opponents, but hope for change is looming on the horizon as voters defy attempts to suppress their votes and turn out in large numbers to elect representatives who understand their lives.
Photo by Susan Yin on Unsplash