By Cynthia Richie Terrell on December 15, 2017
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I attended two events this week that were chock full of interesting speakers and attendees!
As is often true, the most inspiring news I found this week on advancing gender parity comes from outside our borders. I hope that as we formulate and refine our work together to win parity in the United States we will stay curious about what's working in other countries and open to how we can incorporate best practices into our own work.
Universities in Ireland will now risk losing funding if they fail to promote a sufficient number of women into higher roles, Minister of State for Higher Education Mary Mitchell O’Connor has announced.
Speaking to the Sunday Independent, Minister Mitchell O’Connor stated that “the first Irish university was set up 424 years ago and since then, no university [in Ireland] has had a female president.”
“That was excusable 400, perhaps even 300, 200 or 100 years ago, but in the 21st century, it’s not only not excusable, it’s not acceptable in institutions which should be providing a beacon of equality to the rest of society.”
Minister Mitchell O’Connor also stated that a Gender-Equality Task Force, which will investigate the gender inequality in senior university roles, will be established and will receive €500,000 in funding. The force will monitor a national systems review of recruitment and promotion policies in higher education institutions. A system ensuring that regular feedback is received will also be established. The work of the taskforce will be based on a report by the Higher Education Authority (HEA), which analysed the state of gender equality in Irish universities and made recommendations on what improvements can be made.
The HEA agreed that state funding of higher institutions should now depend on universities’ performance in tackling gender inequality. The institutions’ eligibility for research funding will be limited to those colleges that have a history of tackling the issue of gender inequality in the past. In addition to that, colleges will be required to have gender equality accreditation by the end of 2019 by three of Ireland’s research finding agencies; Science Foundation Ireland, the Irish Research Council, and the Health Research Board.
Read moreWhen Michelle Bachelet won Chile’s presidential election in 2006, she not only became the first woman to hold her country’s highest office; she ushered in a wave of female presidential victories that shattered glass ceilings across Latin America.
At one point, in 2014, more than 40 percent of the region’s citizens lived under female rule.
But as Chileans head to the polls Sunday to elect their next leader, and President Bachelet prepares to step down, an era is ending: For the first time in over a decade there will be no women presidents, or Presidentas, in the region....
Female matriculation in law school has increased significantly over time. In fact since 1992, the ratio between female to male law students has approached 50/50. Despite the relative equality among male and female law students, women’s representation in the judicial branch remains shockingly low. This is true among both female judges and prosecutors. A more diverse judicial branch equates to a more representative government. Representative democracy is important to the judicial branch because different perspectives often lead to diverse readings and implications of rulings. Christina L. Boyd, Lee Epstein and Andrew D. Martin’s study, Untangling the Causal Effects of Sex on Judging, found that male federal appellate court judges are less likely to rule against plaintiffs bringing claims of sex discrimination if a female judge is on the panel. Who we see representing us matters. Female judges and prosecutors are necessary to bring a new perspective to their rulings.Read more
Women candidates made great strides in Tuesday's elections - both in record numbers of candidates - thanks to the great work of EmergeAmerica & its terrific state affiliates, Higher Heights, Latinas Represent and VoteRunLead among many others - and a record number of wins! The Center for American Women and Politics tallied the available results on their website. Ballotpedia tracks state legislative special elections, mayoral races, and municipal races as well.Read more
The United States has made significant decline. When the study started in 2006, the U.S. ranked 23 out of 144 countries being examined, but in 2017 the U.S. has fallen to 49.
The U.S. has a significant gender pay gap and is one of few developed countries that does not have guaranteed paid maternity leave, which the WEF claims is a simple way for the U.S. to increase gender equality.
While a majority of the countries participating in the study are steadily increasing their gender equality, even the top ranked countries, Iceland, Norway, Finland, Rwanda, and Sweden have not achieved gender parity.
Japan dropped to 114th in gender equality in this same World Economic Forum report according to this story in The Japan Times while "Iceland topped the rankings for the ninth straight year, followed by Norway and Finland, according to the WEF, the organizer of the annual Davos meeting of business and political leaders. Rwanda came fourth, up from fifth, thanks to a rise in women’s economic participation."Read more
At the age of 19 years-old, second year Harvard student Nadya Okamoto is running for Cambridge City Council. There are currently twenty-six candidates running for nine at-large council seats on the council, six of which incumbent seats. Cambridge, Massachusetts conducts its elections using ranked choice voting, which allows voters to rank candidates in order of choice. Representation2020 sat down to talk with Nadya about the value of a representative democracy and ranked choice voting. “I am running in a district where over 35% of the demographic is under the age of 25 and over 34% of the adult population is enrolled in the university, yet we’ve never has student or youth representation on council.” As a supporter of representative democracy, she believes “we elect people to be able to represent experiences and basically act as megaphones for what the residents need.” Nadya believes that to truly be representative the council needs to have someone “living the experiences” or “can truly empathize” with the experiences of a student. She is looking to bridge that gap and believes it is important that young people’s voices are in the conversation, especially young women, because they are a part of the community.Read more
The Barbara Lee Family Foundation released their report Opportunity Knocks that tracks the recent increase in the number of women running for office and makes the compelling case that there has never been a better time for women to run for office - tune in to their webinar on November 9th at 1pm to learn more. Barbara Lee had a great column in the Detroit News this week:
Many of the characteristics voters associate with women — including honesty, integrity and authenticity — are highly prized by today’s electorate. Unsurprisingly, the strength and impact of these perceptions depends largely on candidates’ and voters’ respective party affiliations. Still, in many categories, women on both sides of the aisle benefit from their gender, with Democratic women candidates accentuating traditional Democratic advantages and Republican women overcoming some of the weaknesses voters typically associate with women and Republican candidates...
In 2018, 468 seats in Congress, 36 governorships and more than 5,000 state and local office positions will be up for grabs, and women have an unprecedented opportunity to fill more of them than ever before. The field is wide open, and first-time candidates, even those with little or no experience in elected office, have a real shot at winning if they can convince voters they have what it takes to bring about change.
Knowledge is power, and while every candidate brings a different set of experiences to the table, understanding voter perceptions of gender can help women lean into their advantages while controlling areas in which they may be more vulnerable. Our research affirms that women can win when they showcase their accomplishments, demonstrate their passion for key campaign issues, and highlight the difference women make when they serve as elected officials. By deploying these insights, women candidates of all backgrounds can make the most of this opportune moment, make the leap into leadership, and make better policy that reflects the rich diversity of our nation.
Women make up a majority of the population in New York City. In 2001,18 women served on the New York City Council but in 2017 only 13 women serve on the 51-seat City Council, and that number is projected to shrink in 2018. Out of the 13 current city councilwomen, four were ineligible to run again due to term limits, while one decided not to run for re-election. All five of these women are of color. At best, 12 women will be serving in the 2018 New York City Council. There were no primary challengers for the single Republican incumbent up for re-election. Though 113 Democrats ran for contested seats, only 38 were women. A third of Democratic primaries didn’t even have a woman on the ballot. No women are running to replace Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, meaning that New York City will be bereft of a female speaker for the first time since 2005.Read more