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Weekend Reading on Women's Representation December 30, 2016

By Cynthia Richie Terrell on December 30, 2016


​Canadian House of Commons

Dear women's representation enthusiasts,

There was a very interesting article in the New York Times by Susan Chira about what the next steps for women and feminists should be - a number of great allies are quoted. While the issue is complex, to be sure, I think a key reason we are stalled is that we heap so much attention on individual candidates and not enough on the systems and rules that hinder them - but perhaps you have heard me say that before?

Catch News ran a somewhat similar story about how women fared in 2016 by Julie Gottlieb:

Historical reflection cannot offer future projection. However, the cycles of modern feminism are figured by the cresting and the crashing of waves. Tallying up women's most newsworthy achievements and setbacks, 2016 has not been a good year for women and certainly not for feminism. It has been an anti-woman year.

Journalist and student - Jazmin Kay had a great piece on Huffington Post about some of the breakthroughs for women in US politics in 2016 while Janis Irwin writes in Huff Post Politics Canada about the status of women's representation there and the need for parity.

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Weekend Reading on Women's Representation December 23, 2016

By Cynthia Richie Terrell on December 23, 2016


Dear gender parity listserv members,

It's been a year of contrasts. While women of color and republican women won seats at the state and federal level they are still less represented than white democratic women - who of course are also under-represented overall. More women were candidates for president - in the primaries and general of three political parties - but we know the results. And finally, while inequalities persist between men and women, the topic of 'gender' in all its manifestations is getting considerable attention - the National Geographic cover story for January 2017 is just one example.

As I have suggested before, Representation2020 finds that changes to electoral rules can make a difference for women. We recently released a summary of comprehensive research we've undertaken on the impact of a broad range of rules and structures that affect descriptive representation in county elections. We recommend a package of changes that, together, seem to have the most promising impact for both election of women and people of color. Many thanks to the Women Donors Network's Reflective Democracy Campaign for funding this research.

This year, four Bay Area cities - San Francisco, Berkeley, Oakland, and San Leandro - held elections with ranked choice voting (RCV). They elect their mayors and a total of 53 offices with RCV. With two vacancies 61% of those 51 elected officials are people of color -- with the highest percentage among those first elected with RCV. Women hold fully 59% of seats, with the highest percentage among those first elected since 2014. In one notable comparison, 12% of the RCV seats are held by white men, as compared to 31% held by women of color. The cities' four mayors include two white women (both first elected with RCV to city council) and two men of color. An extensive 2014 study found that most Bay Area voters support RCV, understand it, and are experiencing campaigns where candidates are more likely to engage with a larger base of voters and avoid negative campaigning.

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Weekend Reading on Women's Representation December 16, 2016

By Cynthia Richie Terrell on December 16, 2016


​For those of you following election outcomes in Ireland and the impact of the new gender quota law there this story in the Irish Times provides a good update.

Dear friends,

Laura Liswood has a terrific piece in the World Economic Forum on the outcome of the US presidential election - it's a very good read. Laura is featured in this great video by Tiffany Shlain - not sure if you will need a password - it's 5050.

Laura shared this update from the Council of Women World Leaders - eleven new members in 2016! According to the Council, the current membership of women heads of state and government in CWWL is 63 - which includes past and current leaders.



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Women of Color in Congress: How We Can Do Better

By Tiffany Monzon on December 16, 2016


By Tiffany Monzon

Currently, 105 women make up the 114th Congress, a record high number. Though this marks a relative success for women, the makeup of women in Congress lacks diversity. Out of the 105 women 34 are women of color. This was a boost from the 113th Congress, where only 24 women of color held seats. Since the election of 1964, 59 women of color have served in Congress. All have served in the House with the exception of two, one who served in the U.S. Senate and the other served in both the House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate. Diverse voices are important, thus electing not only more women but more women of color is imperative.

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Weekend Reading on Women's Representation December 10, 2016

By Cynthia Richie Terrell on December 10, 2016


Hello friends,

Last week I wrote from Brussels and this week I was visiting with women's representation experts in the UK.  Susannah Wellford and I had the privilege of speaking with a number of the leading women's representation advocates in Britain - they shared impressive stories of training and mentoring programs and we got to meet three of their many success stories.

​We also spoke with Sarah Childs, whom I have mentioned before - she is the author of The Good Parliament report which outlines recommendations for a more "representative and inclusive House of Commons" that was presented to Members of Parliament last year. While the UK context is somewhat different I think that the process for and content of the report is something we should pursue at the state and federal level in the United States.

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Weekend Reading on Women's Representation December 3, 2016

By Cynthia Richie Terrell on December 03, 2016

Dear all,

It has been such a pleasure to be in Brussels this week to talk with women from across Europe and the United States about strategies to elect more women to government offices. We have heard from experts in many fields and young elected leaders of color who are charting new pathways to parity in their nations.
While there have been many terrific advances for women's representation worldwide we all agreed that we have a long way to go to reach parity. We must identify new collaborative strategies in order to be successful.

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Weekend Reading on Women's Representation November 25, 2016

By Cynthia Richie Terrell on November 25, 2016


Hello friends,
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.

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Weekend Reading on Women's Representation November 18, 2016

By Cynthia Richie Terrell on November 18, 2016


Dear friends,

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.

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Weekend Reading on Women's Representation November 11, 2016

By Cynthia Richie Terrell on November 11, 2016


Dear all,

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.

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Post-Election Gender Parity Rankings: Will New Hampshire Lose its Number 1 Spot?

By Kelsey Kober on November 08, 2016


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.


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