Weekend Reading on Women's Representation March 16, 2018

By Cynthia Richie Terrell on March 16, 2018

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My dear friends,
Last Saturday, The Hill ran my piece entitled "Congress, like Hollywood, has a female representation problem" which I wrote to encourage a conversation about concrete steps that we should be taking to advance women's representation and leadership that will lead us to parity in our lifetimes - not in some distant century or millennium. Judging from the comments on the piece not everyone agrees with my proposals but I am hoping those of you on this listserv will read the piece and let me know what you think! Here is an excerpt:

Fairness doesn’t just happen. We must demand rules that require it. So how about if we demand an inclusion rider from our politicians?

We could call it a replacement mandate. Here’s one way to start: Let’s ask our governors to pledge that if they get to make mid-term appointments to the U.S. Senate, that they will guarantee delegations with an equal number of men and women.

In Mississippi, for example, the seven-term senator Thad Cochran announced his retirement this week due to health issues. Gov. Phil Bryant gets to name his replacement. It should be a woman.

Mississippi has concentrated so much electoral power in the hands of men, for so long. Amazingly, it is one of two states that has never elected a woman to Congress. (Vermont is the other.) Neither party in Mississippi even nominated a woman for Congress in 2014 or 2016. Gender parity in the state house and senate has been glacially slow: Women made up 11 percent of state legislators in 1993; that number has inched up to 14 percent today.

Bryant could make history and create real change simply by naming a woman to Cochran’s seat.

We need to level the playing field for women and ensure equal representation for many reasons, among them basic fairness. But we also need more women across our government in order to strengthen our democracy. Gender equity would make our government more representative, more collaborative, and would improve policy outcomes and build greater trust in our elected bodies.

Frances McDormand is right: Hollywood will only change if those with the power to force reforms use their influence and demand an end to the old way of hiring and promoting.

Representation in the movies would show us a dramatically different America. But fair representation in government would actually create a different country in reality. We’re living in a fantasy land, however, if we pretend that it will happen on its own, without structural and institutional change.

A representation mandate for the U.S. Senate would be both a dramatic – and sensible – place to start.

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And as if anyone needs a reminder about why our work to elect more women is important there was a piece in the 50 States of Blue blog about the fact that South Carolina ranks 46th out of 50 states on RepresentWomen's Gender Parity Index:

After ranking the states, the study compared “red” and “blue” states based on the 2016 election results. It found that the states whose electoral votes went to current President Donald Trump had an average rank of 33.32 out of 50, while states whose votes went to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had much higher average rank of 15.67.

South Carolina ranks 46th out of 50 states in terms of women’s representation in the legislature over time, according to Representation 2020, an advocacy group for women running for public office. The legislature has seen just a one percent increase of women since 1993. The state fares better on Representation 2020’s Gender Parity Index, ranking 24th and scoring 5 times higher than it did in 1993. 

I love the title of this piece "Fierce Conversations are needed today to achieve gender parity" though admit to not having read it yet! Hope is lives up to my expectations:

Today is International Women’s Day and this day is focused on celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women globally. This year, there's a strong call-to-action for #PressforProgress toward accelerating gender parity. Those who support women’s growth and advancement are heeding this call and endeavoring to motivate and unite their friends, colleagues, communities and organizations to think, act and become gender inclusive.

To support #PressForProgress here today, I was excited to catch up with Stacey Engle, Executive Vice President of Fierce Conversations. Fierce is focused on training companies how to have effective conversations – knowing what to talk about, how to talk about it and why it matters. As an organization that is women-owned with strong women leadership, Fierce provides the tools for having effective conversations in the workplace that are needed to support women, and all employees, to live up to their full potential.

Heather Wolf sent along this plug for On the Dot Woman - looks like we should all sign up!

What if...

...every morning, you took just 4 minutes to hear a story about an incredible woman who has stepped off the cliff and is making it happen? How would your mindset change if those relatable role models were part of your morning routine--every morning? How would the larger conversation about the advancement of women change if we all took a little step because we saw someone like us do it first? On The Dot is your beacon of light, shining its beam on the impact, action, struggle and success of women around the globe. If you can’t BE what you can’t SEE, take off the blinders and join our movement.

Congratulations to the team at running start who pulled off another extravaganza this week for their #YoungWomentoWatchAwards at the National Museum of Women in the Arts  - complete with the young Alice Paul (Tapper), gorgeous flowers, spectacular candidates for the young ambassador position, genuine bipartisanship, and the use of ranked choice voting to select the winning candidate! It was a fabulous evening all around that I was very glad to share with my two daughters - Anna & Becca - pictured below.
Have a marvelous weekend - I will be pruning the last of my rose and blueberry bushes and watering my snap peas and sweet peas that are huddling for warmth just below the soil line!
Cynthia
P.S. I just saw the sad news that Rep Louise Slaughter has died - she represented the district where I grew up and I was honored to meet and talk with her on a number of occasions - she will be missed.

 

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