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Viviana Bernal

Viviana Bernal

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  • published Women Running in Barriers & Solutions 2022-07-27 11:25:21 -0400

    Women Running: Gender balanced funding and recruitment targets

    RepresentWomen imagines a democracy where political parties, PACS, and donors commit to intentional actions to ensure that more women are recruited to run. These voluntary targets mimic the quotas that are used in over 100 nations to fuel the election of women candidates.


    See all of our PAC profiles!

    What can political parties do?

    Political parties in many states and localities play a significant role in deciding who runs for office - they must be challenged to be deliberate about the number of women candidates they recruit.

    Local, state, and national political parties should establish Gender Parity Committees to assess the status of women’s representation and determine targets for the recruitment of women candidates. In addition to this, political parties should not just recruit and support cis- and white women, but to commit to representing the diversity of the American population. 

    An annual report should be prepared by the local or state party on the status of gender-diverse representation in its own leadership, in the candidates supported, nominees, and general election winners in the most recent elections, and its plans to further this diversity in upcoming elections.

    infogram_0_20db34d5-5fee-4bca-bb08-70c7af7a6bafParty Rules Maps

    What can PACs do?

    Political Action Committees (PACs) play decisive roles in recruiting, endorsing and funding candidates - they must be challenged to be intentional in the number of women candidates they recruit, support, and fund. 

    Many PACs underfund women candidates overall, because they focus their funding on incumbents, most of whom are men. While women-oriented PACs like EMILY’s List and VIEW PAC already are committed to supporting female candidates, other PACs should intentionally and deliberately commit to contributing a certain share of their funds to female candidates. You can find some of our PAC case studies above, or in our Resources Library.

    PACs should set funding targets for cis-women, transgender folk, and nonbinary candidates as well as increase those targets every election cycle until our elected bodies reflect the gender diversity of the population. With public pressure, equal funding for male, female, and genderqueer candidates may become a value proposition for PACs. The PAC environment is highly competitive and they are always looking for new ways to look different from other PACs to appeal to donors.

    infogram_0_d9a8d1cc-6b16-461b-9348-9ad6dd618e122020 PAC Donations

    What can donors do?

    Individual donor contributions are crucial to the success of women candidates for every level of office. Money is not only required to run a campaign, but often times, fundraising is the first test of a candidate’s viability. Overall, individual donors are less likely to be women, and women who do donate on average give less than men. This can have a gendered outcome for candidates and campaigns.

    Donors must also be challenged to set targets for the diversity of the candidates they support of the proportion of their total donations which go to cis-men. Donors may choose to set their own targets for diverse donations to work in concert with other to make their pledge public. Influential donor pledges to support cis-women, transgender folk, and nonbinary individuals will help to build public pressure for increased support for gender diversity in elections.

    infogram_0_4ff2e81c-25dc-48d4-b485-d91d9eafeae1Individual Donors - 2018 Cycle

    Our Research

    RepresentWomen teamed up with the Center for Responsive Politics, to analyze the data collected on PAC and individual donations during the 2018 election with a gender lens. Our analysis can be found in our report, "PACs and Donors: Agents of Change for Women's Representation" the follow up to our 2016 report "Individual and PAC Giving to Women Candidates."

    Our findings include:

    • Individual donors are less likely to be women.
    • It takes more money to win as a woman.
    • Republican women are a particularly underfunded candidate demographic.
    • Intentional action must be taken by PACs and donors to level the electoral playing field.


    Party Rules

    Since women earned the right to vote 100 years ago, political parties have been looking for ways to engage women in the political process. Both the Democratic and Republican national parties have enacted gender balance rules to attempt to achieve gender parity amongst their state delegates to national conventions. Following these national policies, some state parties have established guidelines for choosing who to send to their state conventions, requiring gender balance at local levels. The team at RepresentWomen has worked with the pro-bono team at Hogan Lovells to research each state party’s rules. 

    State political parties in all fifty states have rules that govern their chair and executive committee. Some of these states, such as Alabama and Arizona have rules that specifically call for gender balance in their party. RepresentWomen has compiled party rules pertaining to gender balance for all 50 states and written a brief on the role political parties have to play in improving the diversity of our elected officials.


    Go to our Resources page for more information, tools, and resources on gender balanced funding and recruitment targets. 

  • published Women Winning in Barriers & Solutions 2022-07-27 11:06:00 -0400

    Women Winning: Ranked Choice Voting

    Our winner-take-all voting system disadvantages non-status quo candidates. Ranked choice voting can be used in both single and multi-winner contests to address the barriers non-status quo candidates face. Multi-winner ranked choice voting, or proportional ranked choice voting, combines:

    • ranked choice voting - voters rank candidates in order of preference.
    • multi-winner districts - districts represented by more than one person. 

    Proportional ranked choice voting (PRCV) is a form of proportional representation with a long history of use in the United States. Currently, many jurisdictions have adopted the PRCV system for local use. 

    infogram_0_8f67be2d-461a-4093-ab30-fb0cff6a98122021 RCV Women Mayors - RCV v. Top 100

    What We Have: Winner-Take-All Elections

    Most of the U.S. uses single-winner, winner-take-all elections. This means everyone in a community votes for their favorite candidate. The candidate with the most votes wins the election and represents the whole community, even if they have failed to win a majority (50%+1) of the votes.

    Our research (see below) shows this type of election disadvantages women - especially women of color. It will take multiple generations for women to reach parity if we keep this antiquated system.

    Here is how winner-take-all elections are disproportionately bad for women candidates:

    infogram_0_285abe46-c6f4-47d8-9461-97c17d7b229b2021 Website - Winner-take-all System

    Here is how PRCV elections help level the playing field for women candidates:

    infogram_0_725aa47a-5826-4b08-8df4-76160f5b2e552020 Website - Fair Representation Voting

    What We Need: Ranked Choice Voting

    Under ranked choice voting, voters rank candidates in order of preference. They mark their favorite candidate as first choice and then indicate their second and additional back-up choices in order of preference. Voters may rank as many candidates as they want, knowing that indicating a lower ranked candidate will never hurt a more preferred candidate.

    Candidates do best when they attract a strong core of first-choice support while also reaching out for second and even third choices.

    When used as an "instant runoff" to elect a single candidate like a mayor or a governor, RCV helps elect a candidate that better reflects the support of a majority of voters. When used as a form of fair representation voting to elect more than one candidate like a city council, state legislature, or even Congress, RCV helps to more fairly represent the full spectrum of voters.

    Click through our RCV dashboard to learn more about how RCV impacts representation outcomes:

    infogram_0_f45a9b75-7958-4bcd-b51b-adb30abd22e42022 RCV Dashboard

    What We Need: Multi-Winner Districts

    The U.S. uses single-winner districts to elect the House of Representatives, which means each congressional district has one Member of Congress. Some state legislatures and city councils use multi-member districts, where multiple people represent the same district. We propose that all legislative bodies adopt multi-member districts to better represent the opinions, diversity, and values of their constituents. 

    Compared to winner-take-all elections, ranked choice voting in multi-winner contests allows more diverse groups of voters to elect candidates of choice. This promotes diversity of political viewpoint as well as diversity of candidate background and demographics.

    Multi-winner districts increase women's representation for two key reasons:

    • Voters are more likely to balance their ballots.
    • Political parties seek to appeal to as many voters as they can, by recruiting more women and people of color to run.

    Amy (2002), Zimmerman (1994), and Troustine (2008) find that in the multi-winner environment voters are more likely to vote for male and female candidates to balance their choices, meaning parties have more incentive to run female candidates. This leads to more recruitment and support of female candidates, and therefore more women in office.

    infogram_0_536f6972-961d-4107-adbf-c5a667bb52322021 MMD Comparison with SMD

    What We Can Do: The Fair Representation Act

    The Fair Representation Act (HR 3863) gives voters of all backgrounds and all political stripes the power to elect House Members who reflect their views and will work constructively with others in Congress.

    Under the Fair Representation Act, there will be more choices and several winners elected in each district. Congress will remain the same size, but districts will be larger, each electing 3, 4, or 5 winners. Voters will be free to rank their choices without fear of "spoilers." No district will be “red” or “blue.” Every district will fairly reflect the spectrum of voters.

    Voters are clamoring for change. The Fair Representation Act is effective, constitutional, and grounded in American traditions. It will ensure that every vote counts, all voices are heard, and everyone has an equal opportunity to serve in elected office. 

    Read the Bill  Learn More 

    Our Research

    Memo: Ranked Choice Voting and Women's Representation

    Released: January 2023

    The following memo presents an update to our 2020 analysis (see below) of voting systems in the U.S. and their impact on women’s representation. 

    Overall, we have found that women continue to fare better in jurisdictions that use ranked choice voting than in cities with plurality voting systems. Of the 30 cities that use ranked choice voting to elect their executives (mayors), 12 (40%) are currently represented by women. In the 41 cities that use ranked choice voting to elect their legislatures (councils, boards), almost half of all electeds (137 of 282, or 49%) are women.

    RCV remains one of the most promising tools for advancing women’s representation in the United States.

    View the Memo

    Why Women Won in 2021: New York City Report

    Released: September 2022

    In 2022, we released a report on the outcome of the 2021 elections in New York City. RepresentWomen partnered with The New Majority NYC (formerly 21 in '21) to study 1) the impact of term limits, matching funds, ranked choice voting, and candidate-focused strategies on women's representation, 2) how these factors worked together to bring NYC a majority-women council for the first time in history, and 3) what it will take to maintain and build upon this success story in the future. 

    View the Report Executive Summary

    Election Reform & Women's Representation: Ranked Choice Voting in the U.S.

    Released: June 2021

    In 2021, we published an article in Politics and Governance on the history and impact of single- and multi-winner ranked choice voting on women’s representation in the U.S. In addition to revisiting some of the research from our 2016 and 2020 reports, this article allowed us to dig deeper into the available literature on ranked choice voting and identify knowledge gaps that should be addressed in future research. 

    Read Our 2021 Article

    In Ranked Choice Elections, Women WIN

    Released: July 2020

    Our 2020 ranked choice voting report, "In Ranked Choice Elections, Women WIN" provides a thorough review of ranked choice voting in the United States and how it is impacting women's representation in the cities that have implemented it. From 2010-2019, 19 cities and counties used ranked choice voting to elect their city officials, including 13 mayors and the city councilmembers in 14 jurisdictions. In that decade, women won 48% of all municipal elections.

    Read Our 2020 Report


    Go to our Resources page for more information, tools, and resources on ranked choice voting and multi-winner districts.

  • published Social Media Feed 2022-07-20 03:59:21 -0400

    Social Media Stream

  • published Search 2022-07-18 20:58:40 -0400


  • published Support Legislation in Get Involved 2022-07-18 00:32:35 -0400

    Support Legislation

    We've made it easy for you!

    If you are a current legislator, running for office, or are an advocate for policy change, we have the resources you need to introduce or support legislation that strengthens our democracy and establishes a better system that promotes fair and balanced representation. Check out our Policy Solutions for Gender Balanced Representation and Sample RCV Ballot Measure Legislation in the Research Library for to-the-point information and sample policy language for the data-backed policies that you want to introduce.

    If you have any questions or want to talk further about how you can make this happen in your jurisdiction, please Contact Us.




  • published linkedin in Social Media Links 2022-07-14 22:12:58 -0400


  • published Barriers & Solutions 2022-07-14 22:07:09 -0400

    Barriers & Solutions

  • published About 2022-07-14 20:43:39 -0400


  • published Partner With Us in Get Involved 2022-07-14 01:56:42 -0400

    Partner With Us

    We know that the most sustainable way to achieve impact is to build relationships and leverage partnerships with a broad and diverse range of allies. If you like what we’re doing and see opportunities for working together, please click below to explore the partnership modalities we offer. They can be thought of as a menu of services where you can easily identify which category you might fit under and which activities will be most useful and relevant for your work.

  • published Barriers Slider in Home 2022-07-13 21:55:18 -0400

    Barriers Slider

  • published The Challenge in Home 2022-07-13 21:11:06 -0400

    The Challenge

    Women make up more than half of the U.S. population, yet the majority of elected and appointed positions in government are held by men. Women face barriers as candidates and as elected officials.

    Political insiders control who gets recruited to run for office, partisanship and winner-take-all voting often determines who wins, and antiquated legislative rules impact who can serve and lead.

    The problem isn't just convincing more women candidates to run for office. The problem is there are structural and institutional barriers that limit women's odds of success at every stage of the electoral process.

  • published Home Panels in Home 2022-07-13 20:54:41 -0400

    Home Panels

    The vision

    We imagine a healthy 21st-century democracy in the United States, with gender-balanced representation in elected and appointed positions, at every level of government.

    Why it matters

    Electing more women to government will strengthen our democracy by:

    • making it more representative,
    • reviving bipartisanship and collaboration,
    • improving policy outcomes,
    • encouraging a new style of leadership, and
    • cultivating trust in our elected bodies.
  • Report: In Ranked Choice Elections, Women WIN

    Released: July 2020

    Our 2020 ranked choice voting report, "In Ranked Choice Elections, Women WIN" provides a thorough review of ranked choice voting in the United States and how it is impacting women's representation in the cities that have implemented it. From 2010-2019, 19 cities and counties used ranked choice voting to elect their city officials, including 13 mayors and the city councilmembers in 14 jurisdictions. In that decade, women won 48% of all municipal elections.

    Read Our 2020 Report

  • published Events 2024-05-23 13:17:41 -0400


  • published Partners in About 2022-07-12 22:14:28 -0400