Where we began: In August 2013, “Representation2020” (now RepresentWomen) was launched to study progress towards gender-balanced governance in the U.S. and identify structural barriers and solutions to women’s representation. We began as a fiscally-sponsored project of FairVote, a nonpartisan organization that champions the use of single- and multi-winner ranked choice voting in the United States. Our initial goal was to achieve gender-balanced representation in politics by 2020.
Our new beginning: In the fall of 2018, Representation2020 separated from FairVote to become RepresentWomen, a nonpartisan research-based organization dedicated to advancing systems-level solutions for women’s underrepresentation in politics, under the leadership of RepresentWomen’s Executive Director and Founder Cynthia Richie Terrell. Within a year of forming its own board and mission, RepresentWomen secured a multi-year grant from Pivotal Ventures and hired its first staffer.
Where we are now: As of 2023, RepresentWomen’s team has grown to include eleven staff and four teams (research, partnerships, communications, and operations). RepresentWomen’s staff is led by a leadership team of four: Executive Director Cynthia Richie Terrell, Operations Director Michele McCrary, Research Director Courtney Lamendola, and Partnerships Director Katie Usalis. In addition to our staff and leadership, RepresentWomen continues to work with IREX fellows and seasonal interns. To date, RepresentWomen has mentored over 100 fellows and interns.
We are committed to achieving gender balance in the United States, where women are in elected and appointed positions, at every level of government, in equal proportion to their presence in the population. Having more women in 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.
Feature resources and programs rolled out in 2023 included:
Through agenda-setting, research, and engagement, we are creating new ways for women to assume power in the United States. To date, our team has:
To learn more about our strategy, our growth in the last five years, and our work in 2023, please turn to our annual report.
RepresentWomen researches and advances the best practices for reaching gender-balanced governance in the U.S. Our research shows that voting systems shape the opportunities women have to run for office and get elected. This timeline accompanies a new brief that analyses the impact of proportional ranked choice voting (PRCV) on women's representation in the United States. Through this timeline, we highlight milestones for women thought leaders and elected officials who have contributed to the ongoing story of PRCV in the U.S. Both the brief and timeline are part of an ongoing series updating our research on voting systems in the U.S. and the impact different systems have on women’s political representation. Previous installments in this series covered voting systems around the world and the impact of ranked choice voting (RCV) on women’s representation.
Nora Weiss is a communications intern and current undergraduate student at George Washington University, studying Political Science and Psychology. Nora has experience working in several nonprofit organizations devoted to protecting women’s rights and combating systemic racial inequality. As a passionate intersectional feminist, Nora intends to pursue a career in research and public policy in order to advance gender justice and health equity.
Wissal Nada Sengouga is an Algerian Medical Doctor who is passionate about empowering women and youth in her community, using social media for science communication, and challenging the status quo in her country. When she is not saving lives and fighting the patriarchy, she likes to work out, listen to podcasts, and watch anime! She takes pride in her sense of humor and ability to come up with the silliest mom jokes.
Geethika Mannaperuma is an IREX exchange fellow of the Community Solutions Program funded by the US Department of State. She is a legal practitioner in Sri Lanka and holds an LL. B from the University of London and LL. M from the Cardiff Metropolitan University. She has served as a public prosecutor at the Attorney General's Department in Sri Lanka. She is passionate about serving her community and has past work experience as a freelance project manager promoting empowerment for women, entrepreneurship, reproductive health, and human rights. She is a skilled traditional dancer, and in her free time, she likes to explore nature.
The Center for Responsive Politics (CRP), Common Cause, and Representation2020 (RepresentWomen) have teamed up to explore political giving to congressional candidates from the female candidate's perspective. This collaborative project is designed to create greater transparency on how political giving affects the universe of viable candidates, to draw attention to the key gatekeeper role played by major campaign funders, and to design strategies that encourage donors, PACs, political parties, and others to reexamine how and when they give to female candidates.
The 'Group of Twenty' (G20) Summit is an annual international forum for the governments and central bankers of the Group of Seven (Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States) plus Argentina, Australia, Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Mexico, the Republic of Korea, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkey, and the European Union. These economies represent the greatest percentage of the Gross World Product, world trade, the global population, and world land area.
For the G20 Osaka Summit, RepresentWomen prepared a series of infographics that illustrate how well women are politically represented in each.
To quantify progress towards gender parity in elected and appointed office, RepresentWomen developed the Gender Parity Index (GPI). Each year, a Gender Parity Score and grade is calculated for each of the 50 states and for the United States as a whole. The Gender Parity Score reflects women's recent electoral successes at the local, state, and national levels on a scale of 0 (if no women were elected to any offices) to 100 (if women held all elected offices). The key advantage of the GPI is that it enables comparisons to be made over time and among states.
RepresentWomen is a nonpartisan, 501c3 non-profit organization committed to strengthening our democracy by advancing reforms that break down barriers to ensure more women can Run, Win, Serve, and Lead. As both candidates and elected officials, women continue to face structural barriers that men simply do not; and these barriers require systemic reforms to level the playing field. "RUN WIN SERVE LEAD: Best Practices for a Gender-Balanced Democracy" highlights the topline findings from our research on the systems-level strategies that accelerate progress toward gender-balanced governance.
The Soviet Union, also known as the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), was established in 1922 with 15 republics, making it the largest country in the world- for reference, it was 2.5 times larger than the United States and was one-sixth of Earth’s land surface. On December 26th, 1991, the Soviet Union dissolved, resulting in the creation of 15 new and independent states: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Estonia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan.
Under the Soviet Union, women’s rights were enshrined by the constitution, which guaranteed equal rights for women in all aspects of life, including the economic, cultural, social, and political spheres. Soviet women were actively involved in the labor force and in domestic affairs- this “double burden” also meant that they experienced time poverty, or a lack of adequate time for leisure and rest. Despite this, Soviet women were still 49% of all local officials and 32% of all federal officials in 1980. However, Soviet women were less likely to be promoted within the government hierarchy, and some women also preferred local politics due to their time poverty, which can explain women’s reduced levels of representation between the local and federal government. Throughout the state’s existence, women’s political representation greatly fluctuated, especially in political party leadership, which is proof of the inadequate implementation of their 30% gender quota.
Why Read This Brief? This brief chooses to analyze these 15 post-Soviet states primarily because their constitutions, political parties, electoral systems, and sociocultural attitudes have all been developed in the last 30 years. Being some of the most newly formed states in the world, these post-Soviet states are still in the process of expanding their legal codes, updating their electoral codes and institutions, and creating mechanisms to monitor the realization of gender equality. Each country in this region has experienced similar and unique barriers in their journey to state development, as well as some resounding successes that other countries should consider implementing within their own governments. Overall, this region is one of the most unique in the world, and there are many successes and challenges which can be identified to enhance our understanding of both the post-Soviet states and governments around the world.
Over half (55%) of Arab states ensure women's representation through gender quotas (mostly reserved seats). Our research indicates that women in countries with gender quotas are better represented by women than they are in countries without quotas. But even in countries that have achieved higher levels of representation, more needs to be done to ensure that women have meaningful opportunities to lead. To learn more about the status of women's representation in Arab states, refer to our full brief.
Gender quotas have uniquely defined Latin American politics since their conception. In 1991, Argentina became the first country in the world to adopt legislative gender quotas. Soon after, other countries in Latin America and around the world began to do the same. Of the five countries in the world that have achieved gender parity in their legislatures, three are in Latin America. Whether due to the fact that they were among the first to embrace gender quotas or because of other underlying factors, it is clear that the region has many success stories when it comes to women's representation.
Yet, that is not to say that every country in this region is succeeding at achieving gender-balanced governance. There is great diversity in performance on women's representation in Latin America, which hints that gender quotas, though helpful, may not be the only solution needed to achieve gender parity.
This brief analyzes trends in Latin America, defined by 19 countries located in Central and South America, to:
RepresentWomen is a research-based advocacy group that promotes the use of systems strategies to advance women's representation and leadership in the U.S. and around the world. To achieve our mission, RepresentWomen partners with allies across the country and political spectrum who help amplify our work by putting what we've researched into practice. By working in concert with our allies to address the barriers to office, we can ensure that more women RUN, WIN, SERVE, and LEAD.
In January 2022, RepresentWomen conducted an analysis of the demographic makeup of cabinets in all 50 states. For all but one state (Florida), the governor appoints all or most cabinet members. The average state cabinet has a membership of less than 40% women. Only 12 states have achieved gender balance in their cabinets.
Ariana Maaia is a research intern who is currently getting her Master's in Social Work from the University of Kentucky. Ariana is passionate about women's rights, criminal justice reform, and dismantling systems of oppression and systemic barriers. She currently works as a social work family advocate at a nonprofit in San Diego. Post graduate school, she is looking forward to engaging in community-centered work that advances justice, safety, and equality for disenfranchised and underrepresented communities.
Leilani Nti is an undergraduate research intern who is currently majoring in International Studies and French Studies at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. She was recently awarded a Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship and is a volunteer with Matriculate College Advising. In the future, Leilani plans to obtain a Ph.D. and hopes to advance women’s representation in various fields. In her free time, she enjoys reading, hiking, and painting.
RepresentWomen is a research and action hub that promotes evidence-based solutions to improve women’s political representation and leadership in the United States and abroad. At RepresentWomen, we know that women’s representation in government strengthens the quality of democracy. We envision a future where women have equal opportunities to enter elected and appointed office. To achieve this goal, we work in partnership with researchers and practitioners around the world who are similarly invested in creating opportunities for women in government.
Our research on international women’s representation is centered around the role of rules and systems, and how they shape opportunities for women in politics. Through this research, we have learned that progress is being made toward gender-balanced governance in many parts of the world, but often requires time and deliberate effort. Between our international reports, regional briefs, and independent studies, our team seeks to identify and share the “best practices” for advancing women’s representation and leadership.
Gender Equality in Egypt 2011-2022 explores the progression of gender equality and women’s rights in Egypt over the last decade. Topics included in this report range from women-related national strategies in Egypt; amendments to the Constitution; new laws and executive decisions; women’s political, economic and social empowerment; and a discussion of feminism, gender, and equality.
The objectives of this report are to: 1) analyze the elements that contributed to Egypt’s progress toward gender equality; 2) review Egypt’s latest efforts to improve gender equality and develop recommendations that the country can use to achieve gender balance; and 3) provide examples from other countries’ policies and plans on how to overcome the structural barriers that limit opportunities for women seeking positions in government.
Women's representation in state legislatures has steadily grown over the last ten years, from 24% of all seats in 2013 to 33% in 2023. Though women's representation increased in both parties, the Democratic Party has made greater strides toward gender balance.
Nearly half of all Democratic state legislators are women in 2023, up from 33% ten years ago. Meanwhile, just one-fifth of all Republican state legislators are women, up from 17% ten years ago. While the composition of the Democratic party has shifted over time to achieve gender balance, Republican men hold approximately the same share of power in 2023 that they did ten years ago.
Uneven efforts to recruit and retain women lead to uneven results. Progress toward gender balance in state legislatures will slow down unless the Republican Party adopts new strategies to source and support women in office. Refer to our 2023 snapshot on women in state legislatures to see the data and learn more.
In 2022, we released an interactive dashboard to present the latest data on women's representation in ranked choice cities. In addition to providing summary data on where ranked choice voting (RCV) is used and its impact on local representation, the RCV Dashboard includes updated case studies on the impact of ranked voting on women's representation in Cambridge, New York City, the Bay Area, and Utah.
For more information about RCV and its impact on women's representation, check out our 2023 Ranked Choice Voting Memo.
Updated: January 2023