Weekend Reading on Women's Representation November 13, 2020

By Cynthia Richie Terrell on November 13, 2020


Dear fans of women's representation & leadership.
Results from last week's election are still trickling in so we don't yet know the final tally for the number of women elected to Congress and to state legislative positions. We do know that there were significant wins for women - notably a big increase in the number of Republican women who will serve in the 117th Congress along with gains for women of color in both major parties as well. 
But the results also show that the vast majority of incumbents were re-elected and that while 162 women ran as challengers just 8 have won as of today, for a total win rate of 4%. These incremental gains place the United States at about 70th globally along with neighbors Mali, Slovenia, Kazakhstan, Afghanistan, Vietnam, Bulgaria and Iraq.

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Weekend Reading on Women's Representation November 6, 2020

By Cynthia Richie Terrell on November 06, 2020


Top row (Left to Right): Mauree Turner, Madinah Wilson-Anton, Stephanie Byers, Cori Bush, Christina Henderson
Bottom row (Left to Right): Taylor Small, Marilyn Strickland, Deb Haaland, Sarah McBride
Dear allies in the work for women's representation & equality,
Election results are still coming in but we know that record numbers of women won at the local, state, and Congressional level this week. Some highlights include increased numbers of women of color & Republican women who have been elected to Congress, wins for ranked choice voting reform allies at all levels, gender parity on the Washington, DC city council, and wins at the local level for allies like Natalia Macker who won re-election to the Teton County Commission. 

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Meet the Team: Alisha

By Alisha Saxena on November 03, 2020

Hi! My name is Alisha Saxena and I am a senior at the University of California, San Diego, with a major in Political Science-Public Law and a minor in African American Studies. I am currently a Research Intern with the fabulous RepresentWomen team, working remotely from the Bay Area! Though I have been in California for eight years, I spent most of my childhood in Columbia, South Carolina- although its history isn’t great, it is definitely a beautiful place!

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Weekend Reading on Women's Representation October 30, 2020

By Cynthia Richie Terrell on October 30, 2020


Dear women's representation stalwarts,
On the eve of the 2020 general election, the terrific team at RepresentWomen has compiled an updated Gender Parity Index map that tracks women's representation at the local, state, and federal level - combined - so that we can monitor progress toward parity among states and over time. Find out more about the 2020 Gender Parity Index and look for more information about how your state is doing here. We will be releasing updated numbers after the election but here is a summary of where things stand:

Even if a record number of women win next Tuesday, the U.S. will still fall short of gender parity at the national and state levels and very few states are primed to reach an “A” grade for women’s representation. 

The highlights from our 2020 Gender Parity Index include:

  • New Hampshire reached parity with a score of 50.1. The only state to achieve gender parity, New Hampshire regained its “A” grade after slipping to a “B” in 2019.
  • The majority of states - 60% - received a “D” grade, with 14% receiving a “C”  and 18% receiving a “B.”
  • Three states received an “F” grade in 2020, with Montana slipping from a “D” grade in 2019 and joining Utah and Louisiana.
  • Women’s elected representation varies drastically by region.The west coast continues to outpace most of the country, with six states receiving “B” grades in 2020. 
  • Women’s representation remains uneven between political parties, as does the number of women candidates in 2020. Of the 727 women who filed to run in 2020 in state executive and congressional elections, only 39.5% are Republican (287 of 727). 
Even as the number of women elected continues to increase each election cycle, progress is slow and uneven across race, ideology, age, and geography. Until we address the structural and ingrained barriers women face in politics, the United States is unlikely to make substantial and sustained progress toward gender balance in politics.

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Weekend Reading on Women's Representation October 23, 2020

By Cynthia Richie Terrell on October 23, 2020


New Zealand election billboard from Flickr
Dear women's representation enthusiasts,
We will have to wait a few more weeks to know the winner of the U.S. presidential election but the results are in for prime minister of New Zealand and Jacinda Ardern has won by a significant margin. While the United States and New Zealand both inherited a faulty electoral system from the UK, New Zealand switched to a proportional voting system in 1993 - after a persuasive visit from American proportional representation advocates :) - which led to increased numbers of women elected to parliament including an even younger Jacinda Ardern. John Nichols wrote a terrific piece in The Nation this week about the landslide win for Ardern:

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern accepted her landslide reelection win Saturday with a message for her country and the rest of the world: “We are living in an increasingly polarized world, a place where more and more people have lost the ability to see one another’s point of view. I hope that this election, New Zealand has shown that this is not who we are. That as a nation, we can listen and we can debate. After all, we are small to lose sight of other people’s perspective. Elections aren’t always great at bringing people together, but they also don’t need to tear one another apart.”

Ardern, the 40-year-old leader of New Zealand’s social democratic Labour Party, did not explicitly mention the highest-profile election of this fall. But it was hard not to recognize in her victory speech a nod to voters in the United States, especially when she said, “This has not been an ordinary election and it’s not an ordinary time. It’s been full of uncertainty and anxiety. And we set out to be an antidote to that.

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Weekend Reading on Women's Representation October 16, 2020

By Cynthia Richie Terrell on October 16, 2020


Dear fans of women's representation,
This week RepresentWomen released its Achieving Gender Parity: Systems Strategies Around the World report that offers a deep dive into the electoral systems, recruitment practices, and representation outcomes for women in nearly every country. Twenty years ago the United States ranked 48th globally for women's representation. Today the United States ranks 87th among nations for the number of women elected to the House of Representatives. Most of the countries in the top 50 for women's representation use a proportional or semi-proportional voting system to ensure more women win & some type of quota or temporary special measure to ensure more women run. 
We study what's electing more women to office faster in higher ranked countries to ground our work for data-driven systemic reforms to advance women's representation and leadership in the United States in order to achieve parity in our lifetimes:

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Togo Makes History in West Africa: Victoire Dogbé Named First Woman Prime Minister in the Region

By by on October 09, 2020

By Fatma Tawfik

“OECD Arrivals: Victoire Tomegah-Dogbe, Directrice de Cabinet Togo” by OECD / Victor Tonelli is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0


This past month,Victoire Tomegah Dogbé made history becoming the first woman Prime Minister of Togo. President Faure Gnassingbe appointed Victoire Tomegah Dogbé to the position following the resignation of the previous Prime Minister Komi Selom Klassou, who served in this position since 2015; Dogbé is also the first woman to serve in that office in the history of West Africa.

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Weekend Reading on Women's Representation October 9, 2020

By Cynthia Richie Terrell on October 09, 2020


Emmanuelle Charpentier, left, and Jennifer Doudna may have made the most important biological advance since the discovery of the structure of DNA.Credit...Miguel Riopa/Agence France-Presse

Dear fans of women's representation and equality, 
Two women have jointly won the Nobel prize in chemistry - for the first time in the history of the awards. According to this story in The Washington Post by Ben Guarino, Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer Doudna were awarded the prize for their work on a gene-editing tool called CRISPR while poet Louise Gluck won the prize for literature:
A pair of scientists — Jennifer A. Doudna, a biochemist at the University of California at Berkeley, and Emmanuelle Charpentier, a French microbiologist — won the 2020 Nobel Prize in chemistry Wednesday for their work developing a revolutionary gene-editing tool that can change the DNA of plants and animals with extraordinary precision. The technique, called CRISPR -Cas9, is already being used as a cancer therapy and to cure inherited diseases.

“This year’s prize is about rewriting the code of life,” said Goran K. Hansson, secretary general of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.

This was the first time two women jointly won a Nobel in chemistry. “I wish that this will provide a positive message, specifically, to young girls who would like to follow the path of science,” Charpentier told reporters Wednesday morning.

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Weekend Reading on Women's Representation October 2, 2020

By Cynthia Richie Terrell on October 02, 2020


First televised presidential debate held on November 4, 1956 between Eleanor Roosevelt and Margaret Chase Smith
Dear all,
The very first televised presidential debate was held on November 4, 1956 between former first lady Eleanor Roosevelt (representing the Democratic Party) and Margaret Chase Smith (representing the GOP) according to the U.S. Senate Archives. This is one of my favorites nuggets from history so forgive me if you have read about it before in this column but I feel it is worth re-sharing this week to remind us of a time when debates were dignified and policy-focused:

Which presidential campaign produced the first nationally televised debate? The typical answer to that question is 1960, Kennedy v. Nixon. In fact, the first televised debate occurred four years earlier, when Democratic candidate Adlai Stevenson challenged incumbent Republican president Dwight Eisenhower—but those two men did not appear in the debate. Instead, on November 4, 1956, two surrogates debated the issues on network television: for the Democrats, former First Lady and party icon Eleanor Roosevelt; for the Republicans, the senior senator from Maine, Margaret Chase Smith. That’s right—the first televised presidential debate featured two women.

By 1956 Margaret Chase Smith was in her second term in the Senate and had known Eleanor Roosevelt for two decades. “I respected and admired Mrs. Roosevelt for her intelligence and active leadership,” wrote Smith in her autobiography. Smith had been a frequent visitor to the Roosevelt White House and had appeared on the First Lady’s radio program. They both published a daily newspaper column. By 1956 both women routinely appeared on lists of America’s most admired women.

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Weekend Reading on Women's Representation September 25, 2020

By Cynthia Richie Terrell on September 25, 2020


Photo credit: Rob Richie
Dear women's representation advocates,
As I wrote this missive last week I was feeling anxious about the 2020 election and what the results might mean for Americans and for all those around the globe who are impacted by policies enacted by the executive and legislative branches of the United States government. The death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg last Friday, and the ever-present reminders of racial and economic injustice, have turned an already-polarized election into a referendum on the rule of law and protections of our most basic rights. 
Photo credit: Katie Sebastian

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