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Weekend Reading on Women's Representation October 20, 2017

By Cynthia Richie Terrell on October 20, 2017


Dear all,
The BBC reported on women's representation in the Communist Party and in governmental positions in China:

Of the 89.4 million members of the Chinese Communist Party, just under 23 million are women - that's 26%.

And women make up 24% of China's National Congress - the sprawling national parliament. You don't have to be a Communist Party member to sit on that.

Women are less represented the higher up the political tree you climb.

After the last Congress in 2012, only 33 women sat on the Central Committee which elects the powerful Politburo - that's 9%.

Only two of the 25 members of that Politburo were women - 8%.

An update on Canada from the Montreal Gazette entitled "More Women Running But Gender-Parity Seems Far Off" reports on the status of women's representation:

This year, 33 per cent of candidates for city council seats are women, compared to 31 per cent in the 2013 election, and 26 per cent in 2005.

In mayoralty races, 20 per cent of hopefuls are women this year, compared to 18 per cent in 2013 and 14 per cent in 2005.

“At this pace, will it take more than half a century to achieve parity at the municipal level, particularly in terms of candidates for the position of mayor?” Groupe Femmes Politique et Démocratie (GFPD) said in a statement. “It is time to act to correct this iniquity. It’s a question of democracy.”

A non-profit, non-partisan organization, the GFPD is lobbying for “a law guaranteeing gender parity within political decision-making bodies.”

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Weekend Reading on Women's Representation - New Zealand News - October

By Cynthia Richie Terrell on October 20, 2017

​ New Zealand has a new female prime minister Jacinda Ardern who joins just 12 other women heads of state world wide and at 37 is the youngest female head of state in New Zealand's history according to this excellent piece in The Guardian that also lists the other current women leaders. Almost one month after voting day in New Zealand, 37-year-old Jacinda Ardern has become the country’s new prime minister. Ardern’s victory, which was a surprising coup for the country’s left, makes her New Zealand’s third female prime minister and its youngest leader in 150 years.

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Weekend Reading on Women's Representation October 13, 2017

By Cynthia Richie Terrell on October 13, 2017


What a week it's been friends,

The latest issue of Cosmopolitan Magazine covers many parts of the women's representation mosaic from a great piece by Mindy Finn, to a piece by DC mayor Muriel Bowser, to Brenda Carter's terrific Reflective Democracy Campaign maps, but pieces like this one perpetuate the idea that to win parity, individual women need to have the right approach, attitude, and skills. I found no discussion of the data-driven strategies that are electing far more women to office faster in the 100 nations that rank above us in women's representation. It's time for a more sophisticated conversation about the barriers and the solutions to the under-representation of women.

There was a great story entitled "Getting to Gender Equality Starts with Realizing Hose Far We Have to Go" in PR Newswire about the new report from McKinsey & Company and about the slow pace of change for women in the workforce and the structural barriers impeding their success:

Many men don't fully grasp the state of women in the workplace. More than 60 percent of men say that their company is doing what it takes to improve gender diversity, while only 49 percent of women agree. Fifty percent of men say managers consider a diverse lineup of candidates to fill open positions, compared to just 35 percent of women. Further, men are less personally committed to gender diversity, and some even worry that diversity efforts disadvantage them.

Many companies also overlook the realities of women of color. Women of color face more obstacles and a steeper path to leadership, from receiving less support from managers to getting promoted more slowly. This negatively affects how they view the workplace and their opportunities for advancement—and is particularly acute for Black women.

Provo, Utah will have its first woman mayor according to this story in US News & World Report but we will have to wait until election day to see which of the female contenders wins.

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Weekend Reading on Women's Representation October 6, 2017

By Cynthia Richie Terrell on October 06, 2017


Dear friends,

Read this great piece from Politico complete with an interview with the fabulous Gwen Young, director of the Wilson Center's Global Women's Leadership Initiative, about the launch of their Global Women's Leadership Initiative Index to measure women's political power around the world.

WR: What exactly is the Leadership Index trying to find out about women in government?

GY: What we’re trying to measure is how much formal and how much enacted power women hold. If you’re the president of the country, you have a certain amount of power. If you’re in parliament, you have a legislative power. If you’re a minister, you may or may not have budget power. Those are your formal powers. But what’s really important in the gender space is the informal or enacted powers: How do people perceive you? Do you use your power? Are you an effective leader in your field?

WR: Which countries are getting it right?

GY: It’s easy to point to the Nordic countries. Part of it is they have the laws and legislation in place. Part of it is they had quotas. Part of it is they’re a welfare state and they work a lot on trusting government. Most of the countries I look at have either a commitment that’s a quota or a commitment like Canada that comes down from the leader. And so [Canadian Prime Minister Justin] Trudeau’s getting it right, or [French President Emmanuel] Macron is getting it right, because they’re saying, “I as the leader am committed to appointing this many women.”

WR: What surprised you most about the research?

GY: I think the biggest surprise was how much data did not exist -- that there is so much that is simply not disaggregated by sex. For example: In the United States, we do not disaggregate the judiciary sector by sex. So you can call up court systems and national people, but they don’t naturally do that.

WR: What change do you hope to effect with this index?

GY: What we’re hoping the index will do will tell you which levers to move that will promote gender equality. You can separate out the indicators, hopefully change a policy and see which one’s going to actually end up with more women leaders. And so I think using it to assess and do some criteria for donors, investors and philanthropists will be very important.

WR: Your project’s goal is to get to global gender parity in governments by 2050. How likely is that?

GY: I do think we’ll get to the 2050 goal. It’s far enough. It’s ambitious enough that it’s not going to be easy. And it’s going to require a huge cultural change as much a systemic shift. But I have to be optimistic. And I have to believe that we’re going to get there. Because otherwise I’m not sure we can develop the solutions or the creativity to get there.

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Weekend Reading on Women's Representation September 29, 2017

By Cynthia Richie Terrell on September 29, 2017


Dear friends,

There was a terrific interview with Nadya Okamoto the 19 year old college student who is running for city council in Cambridge, MA - her passion for public service and for ranked choice voting is beyond inspiring!

Representation2020 has been digging into the data in the 10 states that have multi-seat state legislative districts. Seven of the 10 states elect only two members per district but 3 states - MD, NH, and WV - elect 3 or more legislators in their multi-seat districts. These 3 states use both single-seat districts and multi-seat districts which provides a great illustration of the positive impact of multi-seat districts on women's representation as shown in the chart below.

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Multi-Winner Districts and Women’s Representation: From New Zealand to the United States

By NationBuilder Support on September 29, 2017

New Zealand recently conducted its 2017 Parliamentary elections. With a mixed member electoral system in the House of Representatives, officials are elected from both single-winner electorates and party lists. In the recent election, 45% of the party list seats (multi-winner) were won by women, compared to only 35% of the general electorate seats (single-winner).

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Weekend Reading on Women's Representation September 22, 2017

By Cynthia Richie Terrell on September 22, 2017


​Happy autumn to everyone in the northern hemisphere!

And happy election weekend to those who will be voting in New Zealand on Saturday and voting in Germany on Sunday. These two nations are of particular interest because they both use a mixed member proportional voting system meaning that officials are chosen both from single-seat districts and from party lists. Voting system expert Matthew Shugart writes a good blog about the elections for those who are interested.

Both countries rank high in women's representation - New Zealand ranks 31st and Germany 21st -  because of their voting systems and the voluntary quotas that parties have used. It's also important to note the somewhat higher rate that women get elected from the proportional seats than from the single-seat districts. Look for an update on that contrast next week!


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Weekend Reading on Women's Representation September 15, 2017

By Cynthia Richie Terrell on September 15, 2017


​Jane Austen on the Bank of England's 10lb note - see great story here.

Hello friends,

The New York Times had several interesting pieces this week including this opinion piece entitled "Women's Voice Remains Faint in Politics" that decries the lack of women's representation in New York and other cities.
And this piece on Angela Merkel who has lead Germany for the past 12 years examines the role that she has played and her legacy:

Ms. Merkel has not made gender equality a signature issue. But during her time in office things have quietly evolved.

Schools, which traditionally closed at lunchtime, relying on stay-at-home mothers, have gradually lengthened their hours. Child care, once anathema for children under 3, has been vastly extended. A paid parental leave has been introduced that nudges fathers to take at least two months.

More recently, the government passed a law obliging large companies to replace departing members of their nonexecutive boards with women until they made up at least 30 percent.

“She uses the same style of politics for gender that she uses elsewhere: She does not call for a revolution, she starts an evolution,” said Annette Widmann-Mauz, head of the Christian Democrats’ Women’s Union.

But women in Germany are still paid 21 percent less than men — the European average is 16 percent — not least because they do not climb the career ladder. In some areas the number of women in leadership positions has actually been sliding back.

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Weekend Reading on Women's Representation September 8, 2017

By Cynthia Richie Terrell on September 08, 2017


Dear friends,

There was a fascinating story on NPR about a new study on attitudes about women lawmakers which found that women think that women legislators have more integrity and are more competent:

On the whole, women tend to view a female representative as being more competent, having more integrity and representing the district well. They also tend to approve of female legislators more.

Meanwhile, men, on the whole, don't view women and men very differently on these measures.

But these attitudes don't hold steady across parties — Republican women in particular get a boost from fellow women.

"Women rate female Republican legislators more positively than they do male Republican legislators," the researchers write, "but neither women nor men rate Democratic legislators differently based on their gender."

Another story in the Washington Post examined the impact that Chile's female president had on a major policy victory for women noting that women leaders do not always push 'women's policies' but that women leaders do develop networks of constituencies that are vital to legislative success:

...being a woman leader is not enough. Bachelet is one of the few female leaders in the world who has aggressively deployed her constitutional powers to pursue gender equality. About a quarter of countries today — including economic powerhouses like Germany, Brazil and the United Kingdom — have had at least one female president or prime minister, and yet few of these leaders pursued a “women-specific” agenda...New research suggests that networks and constituencies better explain why female presidents are more likely than male presidents to try to advance pro-women policies. Analyzing these factors shows why a president’s sex sometimes, but not always, matters.

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