By Nate Victor on December 03, 2016
Susannah Wellford - of Running Start - wrote a terrific piece in US News on how to move forward in our work together. She writes:
Our country is so deeply divided right now that I don't even recognize it. There is so much hate on both sides. A friend told me that liberals have every right to lash out – that if Clinton had won, Trump supporters would be doing the same thing. Even if that were true, it doesn't make it right and it just guarantees that hate prevails. We don't win that way.
Check out this press release from the Center for American Women in Politics for the latest update on women's representation in state legislatures in 2017 - the outcomes of some races are still unclear - women will hold between 24.7 and 25% of the seats.Read more
I thought one of the best post-election pieces I read was this one by Michele Goodwin in Huffington Post entitled Tough Questions About Women and Politics in the Wake of Trump Presidential Victory.
While scholars and commentators might presume that female representation alone achieves gender equality or liberalizes women’s rights, such conclusions are misleading and inaccurate. Women’s political representation without a critical mass offers only scant access to power and minimal influence. This is not to say women shouldn’t be in high offices — they should and the time is overdue. To achieve a norm-shifting culture as well the enactment of regulations and legislation that promote women’s equality, requires more women on deck and the collaboration of men who can see beyond their colleagues’ skirts and pantsuits. It also will require Americans to shed implicit and explicit biases against women in leadership.
It has been quite a week.
The much-anticipated election of the first woman president did not happen. The number of women governors declined from six to five - with three of those five being out in 2018 due to term limits and the remaining two women facing competitive bids for re-election. Women gained only one seat in the U.S. Senate despite several strong women challengers.
In U.S. House elections, women will hold one fewer seat. Disturbingly, we may be reaching the kind of equilibrium in the House that we now see in state legislative races. In 1993, women held more than 20% of state legislative seats. In the years since, they never have reached 25%. Without systematic intervention and structural change, women may be reaching a similar "glass ceiling" in Congress that will make it very hard to advance beyond 25%.
House races underscore the need for structural change to open up opportunities for women. FairVote closely tracks House races in its Monopoly Politics reports. Out of 435 House seats, only 12 changed parties. Incumbents won 98% of their races, and open seats closely tracked whichever party had even the slightest partisan advantage. Oddly, in a year of such voter rebellion at the top of the ticket, incumbents not only won, but on average won by some 8% more than the nominee of their party would likely have won in an open seat.Read more
New Hampshire is a national leader when it comes to the representation of women in politics. Three women have held the state governorship and New Hampshire was the first and only state to send an all-female delegation to Congress in 2012. Additionally, New Hampshire was the first state in the nation to have a majority female state legislative chamber (in the state Senate in 2009 - 2010); as of October 2016, the New Hampshire General Court is almost 30% female.
It’s widely acknowledged that women are vastly underrepresented in politics, despite making up over half of the electorate. Nowhere is this gap more profound than in the governor’s mansion; currently, women make up a pitiful 12% of gubernatorial offices. Vermont gubernatorial candidate Sue Minter (D) came close to shutting this gap, but appears, on early results, to have been defeated by current lieutenant governor Phill Scott (R) on Tuesday night, in the safe Democratic state.
The nation may wake up tomorrow to its first woman president and a record number of women Senators, but down ballot, the news is not good for women in elected office. At least 44 governors will be men next year, and the U.S rank among all nations for the representation of women has declined from 44th in 1995 to 96th in 2016. To win gender parity, intentional action and structural changes are necessary at every level of government.Read more
Much fanfare has been made about the possibility of electing a woman President of the United States this Election Day. But beyond this could-be monumental event, our nation still has much work to do for improving the election of women. The United States lags behind many other nations in women’s representation, coming in at a dismal 96th place. Moreover, most U.S. states are a long way from achieving gender parity in their congressional delegations, state executive offices, state legislatures and local offices. The 2016 elections present an opportunity to make incremental improvements in the dismal state of representation of American women in elected office at all levels of government.
Here’s what to look out for on Tuesday night:
Representation2020, a project of FairVote, has just released its pre-election Gender Parity Index. It shows that on the eve of election 2016, in which we might elect our first female president, 49 of 50 states remain a long, long way from gender parity in elected office. Women constitute just 19% of Congress, 24% of state legislatures, 19% of mayors in our 100 largest cities, and a miniscule 12% of governorships across the country.Read more
Only a few days to go in an election that has torn the scabs off the wound that is our electoral system. Regardless of the results up and down the ballot on Tuesday the Pandora's Box of electoral dysfunction is now wide open and the moment is ours to fix systems - be they cultural, political, professional, or electoral - that disadvantage women candidates.
The complexity of the problem must inform our collective work - there is no one reason that the United States ranks behind 95 nations in the representation of women. Nor is there one solution.