At RepresentWomen, we imagine a healthy 21st century democracy with gender-balanced representation in elected and appointed positions, at every level of government.
To achieve this, we are committed to researching, understanding, and then championing the evidence-based solutions that break down structural barriers to women’s political leadership.
More women in elected and appointed positions at every level of government will strengthen our democracy by making it more representative, reviving bi-partisanship and collaboration, improving the deliberative process, encouraging a new style of leadership, and building greater trust in our elected bodies.
RepresentWomen activates three key levers of change to accomplish its mission:
This slideshow gives some additional background information on who we are, our research, and our ongoing projects.
The United States is founded on the ideal of representative democracy - of the people, by the people, and for the people - yet the overwhelming majority of elected and appointed positions in government, in the US, are held by cis-men.
Women make up half the population, but make up less than 30% of all elected officials in the United States. Despite many "record"-breaking election cycles for women candidates, the United States continues to rank below much of the world for gender parity.
Women in the nations ranked above the United States in women’s representation are no more ambitious or skilled or ‘trained’ to run than American women but those nations have employed a variety of institutional reforms and intentional actions to level the playing field for women to advance in representation and leadership. Here in the United States, current strategies focus on preparing the individual woman to run, rather than change the systems that unfairly hold her back.
Research and experience confirms that female candidates face institutional barriers including recruitment practices that perpetuate status quo candidates, voting systems that protect incumbents and limit competition, and legislative norms that make it difficult for women to serve and lead effectively once elected.
The solution is clear: We must advance institutional reforms to win parity in our lifetimes. It’s time to move from short-term strategies focused solely on preparing individual women to navigate a system that holds them back, toward complementary medium-term strategies that dismantle the unfair barriers of that system. The United States has a rich history of mitigating unfair advantage through institutional reforms. Suffrage, Title IX, the Voting Rights Act, and the Americans with Disabilities Act are all examples of successful civil rights advances that have changed institutions - not the individuals marginalized by those institutions.
Fair Representation Voting is a viable, scalable, and transformative solution that removes barriers to gender-balanced representation in our lifetimes. We are dedicating the next five years to ensuring: a) women are at the fore of advancing Fair Representation Voting legislation in their localities, and b) women have the knowledge and tools to maximize the benefits of Fair Representation Voting, so that more women WIN.
RepresentWomen’s strategy is focused on addressing the root of the problem and breaking down the barriers that hinder women’s full participation at every stage of their political career cycle. Our programs employ innovative strategies designed for maximum impact and sustained progress toward parity for all women.
To contribute to achieving gender balance in US politics in our lifetimes, we pursue two main levers of change: research to build knowledge and strategic engagement with partners to operationalize best practices.
Research – Building Knowledge
The core of our approach is building knowledge and evidence on the what and the how.
- On the “what”: Identify the systemic problems and the structural solutions that address them.
On the “how”: Create a roadmap for change through understanding:
- The reform ecosystem,
- Likely timing for change,
- Possible pathways for reform in specific contexts, and
- Documenting effective practices and suggesting improvements.
Strategic Engagement – Catalyzing Change Through Building Knowledge
- Informing decision makers and gatekeepers through policy briefs, expert testimony, webinars, and training.
- Resourcing and activating change makers through developing tools for candidates and ranked choice voting campaigns, and building strategic partnerships.
- Influencing influencers through convening thought leaders, building a media presence, and cultivating funders.