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Weekend Reading on Women's Representation July 7, 2017

Posted on Blog on July 07, 2017

I used to encourage my daughters when they were small by telling them that on the whole girls were smarter and lived longer than boys – both true. When their mother died and I had a stint as a lone parent I began to realise that being carer of last resort was different to sharing the job, and that for a lot of women they were expected to be the family safety net, with their careers seen as secondary. Then when I became gender diversity champion in the FCO I saw the effects of a traditional culture which – nearly 15 years ago now – often expected women to behave like men, and single men at that. I heard a lot of anger and frustration expressed behind closed doors about sexist attitudes and realised that change had to start with specific improvements, like guaranteed flexible working after maternity leave, improved mentoring and keeping in effective touch during career breaks. Over time, I saw men become less embarrassed at leaving an early evening meeting in order to pick up children before the nursery closed; and we changed our ways of working to be more family-friendly. Morale and efficiency both improved. In BIS, our leadership team committed to going further, and we did – again by changing the culture to build trust and openness around people’s personal circumstances and then by doing things that helped them feel a valued part of our organisation, whatever their working patterns. I have seen firsthand that real gender equality delivers high performing organisations where people want to work. And, more importantly, it is the way to treat everyone fairly and with respect. I don’t know if that makes me a feminist, but I don’t object to the term!


Where in the World are the Women Leaders?

Posted on Blog on July 07, 2017

Taken the morning of July 7, this photo captures a pivotal gathering of the G20 leaders, the key drivers of the international economy. This is, of course, a noteworthy image, but not just because of the striking concentration of global power and authority in a single frame. There is something amiss in this group - and it is revealed in the sea of suits, ties, and balding heads that compose this photograph. This week, German Chancellor Angela Merkel (in red) hosts the members of the G20 summit in Hamburg to discuss international trade, market regulation, and the gravest of global conflicts. Since its crucial role in restoring stability after the 2008 financial crisis, the G20 has served as the linchpin of global economic cooperation. The decisions made during this summit affect nearly every person in the world - yet, only four women are privy to the discussion. Chancellor Merkel and British Prime Minister Theresa May are the only two official participants, while Prime Minister Erna Solberg of Norway and IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde attend as invited guests. None of these women are of color.


Weekend Reading on Women's Representation June 30, 2017

Posted on Blog on June 30, 2017

I am thrilled to report that the Fair Representation Act (H.R. #3057) was introduced by Rep Don Beyer (D VA) on Monday. When passed (!), THe FairRepAct will eliminate gerrymandering, reduce polarization, elect more women & partisans everywhere, and encourage civility by establishing ranked choice voting in multi-winner districts. In the shorter term we hope its introduction will spur a deeper conversation about the root causes of our electoral crisis and the innovative reforms necessary for a voter-driven democracy. Here are some of the press hits from this week's launch:


Progress Towards Gender Parity in French Legislative Election

Posted on Blog on June 23, 2017

This past weekend marked significant progress toward gender parity in France. The final round of the French parliamentary elections was held on Sunday, June 18, when voters elected a record number of women to parliamentary seats. Out of the 577 seats, women now fill 223, beating the last election’s record of 115. This is a huge stride toward gender parity, as the French parliament is now 38.7 percent women. According to data from the Inter-Parliamentary Union, the French parliament now ranks 17th in the world for women’s representation in parliaments, an impressive improvement from its previous 64th place finish.


Learning from Past Structural Reforms: 45th Anniversary of Title IX

Posted on Blog on June 23, 2017

This Friday, June 23, marks the 45th anniversary of Title IX. This landmark legislation, part of the United States Education Amendments of 1972, set out to ensure equal educational opportunities regardless of gender. This allowed for more women to attend college, earn scholarships, study STEM fields, and pursue advanced degrees. Title IX also became the basis for equality in athletics, which has helped increase the number of women who participate in high school sports by 900 percent. Today, Title IX provides protections against campus sexual harassment and assault – another example of its expansive reach. The passage of Title IX meant young women in school could finally participate in sports at the same rate as their male counterparts. Without structural intervention, it could have taken decades or longer for women to reach equal participation organically. Today, the underrepresentation of women in elected office requires the same type of structural reform. Telling women to run for office is not enough alone – just as telling women to play more sports was not enough before 1972. The only way to catalyze progress toward gender parity is through innovative rules changes.


Weekend Reading on Women's Representation June 9, 2017

Posted on Blog on June 09, 2017

Women made gains in the parliamentary elections this week in the UK winning 32% of the seats - an increase of 16 seats since 2015 - according to this story from the BBC. Intentional recruitment efforts by the parties are credited with this impressive seat gain. Sam Smethers, whom Susannah Wellford and I met in November in London, was quoted as saying: The outcome of this election was a surprise to many pollsters, but it has seen more Labour women MPs elected. The Conservative Party has not seen a significant reduction in women MPs despite losing seats. "But the real story is that progress has stalled. Getting more women in cannot be subject to party political fortunes. As we approach the centenary of women first getting to vote in general elections, we cannot wait for another nine elections to achieve equality. "We agree with the recommendation of the cross-party Women and Equalities Select Committee that 45% of each party's candidates must be women. The time has come for a legally enforceable target to achieve the radical and sustainable change we need.


Weekend Reading on Women's Representation June 2, 2017

Posted on Blog on June 02, 2017

Susannah Wellford and Laura Cox Kaplan joined Mika Brzezinski at an event at the Embassy of Germany that was focused on the "importance of authenticity, knowing and owning your value, and tackling self doubt" according to Laura Cox Kaplan - looks like a fabulous event! There was an interesting story on CBCNews reporting that the Liberals in Canada have appointed women to judicial positions and as candidates in key districts in order to achieve gender parity. Intentional actions like these are gaining momentum in the UK and Canada which is significant not only because they are major allies of the US but also because they share our single winner district/ winner takes all voting system. Building relationships with gender parity advocates in Canada is essential so that we can learn from their successes.



Weekend Reading on Women's Representation May 5, 2017

Posted on Blog on May 05, 2017

The Ms Foundation, EMILY's List, VoteRunLead, Running Start, Right Women Right Now, She Should Run, IGNITE, Emerge, Higher Heights, VIEW PAC, Empowered Women, Latinas Represent, Rachel's Network, Sally's List, Close the Gap CA, What Will it Take, and Project Mine the Gap represent just a sliver of the many organizations celebrating women's leadership and pushing for parity for women in government in the United States. We are energized and we are mobilized - we just need a new, more strategic mix of tactics to ensure that in our lifetime government (and legislation) is of the people, by the people, and for the people. It's incumbent on us to pool our many talents and pursue data-driven strategies! During a news segment an Australian MP argued that gender quotas may be necessary to increase the number of women in parliament - especially conservatives: Sarah Henderson says gender quotas may be needed to boost the number of conservative women in parliament. At present there are 13 female MPs out of 76 Coalition members of the House of Representatives, with four of the six most marginal seats also held by women. Ms Henderson who holds the Victorian seat of Corangamite has told Sky News the Liberal party needs to take gender representation 'more seriously.''We absolutely have a problem, we have thirteen women in the House of Reps and that's not good enough.'


Weekend Reading on Women's Representation April 28, 2017

Posted on Blog on April 28, 2017

Every week brings reminders of the pressing need to elect more women from across the racial, political, and geographic spectrum along with indications that our work is gaining traction. I am heartened by the many opportunities for collaboration and interaction with each of you! Lee Drutman wrote an excellent piece for Vox that describes why polarization and re-election of incumbents is at an all-time high - this translates into very, very few opportunities for women to enter state and federal politics. Lee goes on to endorse the Fair Representation Act, which will be introduced in Congress in June (!), that will dramatically increase the opportunities for women to run and win by establishing multi-winner districts with ranked choice voting for U.S. House elections. This same model can also be implemented at the state level and will have a similar impact on increasing the opportunities for new voices in government. Reihan Salam, editor of the National Review, wrote a similar critique of our current system a couple years ago - stay tuned for much more on this! Pippa Norris, one of the leading experts on the relationship between electoral systems and women's representation, was interviewed just this week by World Policy Journal about her work on election integrity. During the interview she was asked: How does election reform affect the representation of women in government?


Join us in turning public passion for gender parity into action and results