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Weekend Reading on Women's Representation April 14, 2017

By Cynthia Richie Terrell on April 14, 2017


​Kay Ivey being sworn in as governor of Alabama

Hello allies,

Louise Davidson-Schmich had an excellent piece on Vox's political science blog Mischiefs of Faction on the impact of quotas and voting systems on the election of women:

The comparatively low number of women Congress is surprising, given that the United States scores relatively well on other measures of women’s well-being, such as the United Nations’ Gender Development Index. What accounts for this contradiction? Comparative research indicates that the primary determinant of women’s representation in legislatures worldwide involves the ways candidates are selected to run for office and the structure of the ballot upon which they appear.

Since the 1980s, the use of gender quotas for elective offices has diffused throughout the world, driving the increase in women’s political representation (see figure 2). Quotas involve setting percentages or numbers for the political representation of specific groups, in this case women and, at times, men.

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Weekend Reading on Women's Representation April 7, 2017

By Cynthia Richie Terrell on April 07, 2017


Jeanette Rankin addressing the House of Representatives April 1917

Dear parity enthusiasts!
Heather Wolf sent along several articles for the listserv including this one from the Washington Post about Jeanette Rankin's decision to cast her vote against involvement in WW1 - it seems especially pertinent today:

The Senate passed the war resolution on April 4, with six votes against. The House took up the measure the next day. Rankin stayed at her new apartment until late in the afternoon, agonizing over the vote. Alice Paul, head of the National Woman’s Party, sat with her. She told Rankin that she had an obligation as the first woman in Congress to give voice to her woman’s conscience. It would be a tragedy, Paul said, to vote for war.

In the evening Rankin appeared at the Capitol. The debate was dragging on, and April 5 became April 6. At 3 a.m., the roll was called. “Miss Rankin was evidently under great mental distress,” the New York Times reported. “Her appearance was that of a woman on the verge of a breakdown.”

Would she betray her cause by voting against war? Or would she betray her conscience by voting in favor?

She remained silent, and the clerk moved on. Rep. Joseph Cannon, the former Republican House speaker, came up to her and told her to vote as her conscience dictated. “You represent the womanhood of the country,” he said.

The clerk went through the roll again. “Miss Rankin,” he called out twice.

She stood, clasped the back of the seat in front of her. “I want to stand by my country — but I cannot vote for war,” she said. Does that, the clerk asked, mean no? She nodded, dry-eyed, and sat down.

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Weekend Reading on Women's Representation March 31, 2017

By Cynthia Richie Terrell on March 31, 2017


Hello everyone!

As always, there is a lot happening in the world.

This weekend will mark the centennial of women's representation in Congress. Republican Jeannette Rankin was elected from a multi-winner district in Montana in November, 1916 and was finally allowed to take her seat on April 2, 1917. Democrats, whose presidential candidate carried the state by a huge margin, then gerrymandered her out of office by reverting to single winner districts. A century of evidence confirms this pattern: women are far more likely to run and win in multi-winner districts in cities, state legislatures and historically, when they were used in House elections. Rankin was even a fan of ranked choice voting - I am not making that up!

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Weekend Reading on Women's Representation March 24, 2017

By Cynthia Richie Terrell on March 24, 2017


My dear friends,
This edition will be some abbreviated as I am in transit for most of the day.
My thoughtful husband sent along a couple good links to updates on likely gubernatorial candidates in 2018 that I think are worth reviewing so that we all understand where women are thinking of running and where they have a chance to win. Wikipedia reports that at least 36 governor seats are up in 2018 with two in 2017 - New Jersey and Virginia:
Many of the states holding gubernatorial elections have term limits which make some multi-term governors ineligible for re-election. Two Democratic governors are term-limited, while six incumbent Democratic governors are eligible for re-election. Among Republican governors, 14 are term-limited, while ten can seek re-election. One independent governor, Bill Walker of Alaska, is eligible for re-election.

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The Best and Worst PACs for Giving to Women Congressional Candidates in 2016

By NationBuilder Support on March 22, 2017

In 2016, Representation2020, the Center for Responsive Politics, and Common Cause examined the break down of PAC giving by candidate gender, to find how PACs donated their money to women candidates. Examining U.S. House and Senate elections from 2010–2014 (and with the help of some 2016 data) we found that some PACs were more equitable at giving money to women candidates than others. So what PACs gave the most to women in the 2016 election cycle and what PACs gave the least?

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Weekend Reading on Women's Representation March 16, 2017

By Cynthia Richie Terrell on March 16, 2017


Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, executive director of UN Women,commented on the UN report on women's representation and map showing where women hold office.

Dear all,

Representative Mimi Walters (R-CA) wrote a very compelling piece in Motto "What It Means to Be a Republican Woman in Congress" - she starts with my favorite theme du jour:

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the first woman being sworn into the U.S. House of Representatives. Jeannette Rankin, a Republican from Montana, was a powerful voice for women’s suffrage. After successfully securing voting rights for women in both Washington State and Montana, Rankin ran for Congress in her home state. She was sworn into the 65th Congress on April 2, 1917, three years before the 19th Amendment was ratified, giving women across the country the right to vote.

Upon her historic election, Rankin famously said: “I may be the first woman member of Congress, but I won’t be the last.” Rankin’s prophetic statement was proven true four years later when Alice Robertson, a Republican from Oklahoma, was sworn into Congress. These two pioneers forged the path for nearly 100 other Republican women who have been sworn into the U.S. House of Representatives. Today, 21 Republican women serve in the House, where we not only represent constituents in our home districts, but also serve as leaders in the Republican Party. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, who represents Eastern Washington State, serves as the House Republican Conference Chair. Rep. Virginia Foxx of North Carolina, Rep. Diane Black of Tennessee and Rep. Susan Brooks of Indiana chair congressional committees. All Republican women play an important role in advancing our agenda, but these four women play powerful roles in shaping the debate and influencing policy that will improve the lives of the American people.

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Weekend Reading on Women's Representation March 9, 2017

By Cynthia Richie Terrell on March 09, 2017


​(Iconic statue of Fearless Girl facing bull installed this week on Wall Street)

My friends,

There were of course many articles and news stories on the celebration of International Women's Day from the both the United States and from around the world. Those in the US reported on the uptick of interest from women in running for office while those from abroad looked at the quota and voting systems used in most nations.

  • Scotland's Sunday Herald asked State of the Nation: Do We Need 50-50 Quotas to Close the Gender Gap? "That quotas can speed up women’s representation is clear. The UK sits, on the most recent gender gap rankings at 20th, behind not only Iceland, Germany and Ireland, but also Rwanda, Namibia and Philippines. One of the areas in which we rank badly is in terms of political representation. On this, a great many other countries in the world beat us – among them, Bolivia and Rwanda, which both have over 50% women in their parliaments. What distinguishes many of these more gender-balanced countries is that they have some kind of legislated quota system"
  • A story on the CBC reports on Canadian student Taya Nabuurs electoral reform speech in the House of Commons which was very well received - she spoke about the value of proportional representation voting systems to increase women's representation: "Electoral reform is a clear and tangible way that we can make steps towards a Canada in which all voices are equally represented," she said. Nabuurs, representing the P.E.I. riding of Cardigan, said extensive research has shown that certain electoral models more effectively promote the election of women to political office."Party list proportional representation systems in particular incentivize parties to run lists of candidates and therefore are the most successful at getting women's names on the ballot," she said. "I believe wholeheartedly in the importance of reforming our electoral system to create the most fair, democratic, and engaging system possible. The fight for electoral reform is not over."  Taya's Twitter handle is @TayaNabuurs I hope you will join me in following and supporting her!

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Weekend Reading on Women's Representation March 3. 2017

By Cynthia Richie Terrell on March 03, 2017

My dear friends,

Great news for women's representation fans! Eighteen states now have ranked choice voting legislation pending and just today the Utah state house passed RCV with support from 75% of the republican members and all of the democrats - illustrating that rules changes that benefit everyone are winnable & have bipartisan support!

The Asahi Shimbun had a very interesting editorial about women's representation in Asia - a subject I am embarrassed to say I know little about - reading it reminded me of the commonalities of the challenges that are true in every country. I thought this quote was an interesting application of the use of targets - or voluntary quotas:

The Abe administration has pledged to promote the role of women in Japan’s male-dominated society and set a target of raising the ratio of women in leading positions to 30 percent by 2020. But there has been no significant progress in this regard...More than 100 countries operate some form of legal or voluntary electoral gender quotas. Typical systems involve reserved seats and candidate quotas for women.

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Weekend Reading on Women's Representation February 24, 2017

By Cynthia Richie Terrell on February 24, 2017


​Check out FairVote's new app to vote on the Oscar nominees using the same ranked choice voting system that the Oscar voters use! Once we work out all the kinks - your feedback is most encouraged - we hope that you will use this new app for any and all decisions!

Dear all,

Congratulations to Jina Sanone on the launch of her terrific Georgia-based project Elect Her! I have been so impressed with Jina's ingenuity and determination - she is a terrific ally for all of us as we build our 50 state strategy to win gender parity.

The inimitable Susannah Wellford wrote a terrific piece in US News & World Report asking whether it's time to consider quotas and the other structural reforms that have been so effective in the 103 nations that rank above the United States in the representation of women. I am so glad to hear of growing interest in gender quotas/targets but I think I may need to consider donning an Irish accent when I speak about these reforms in public so I can be as persuasive as our Irish allies!

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