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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?


Weekend Reading on Women's Representation April 21, 2017

Posted on Blog on April 21, 2017

The Federalist ran a fascinating blog by Patrick Fletchall titled "When Pushing Women's Advancement, Big Businesses Are Hypocrites" - the entire piece is very worth reading but here is a teaser: "To be clear, the issue isn’t that companies don’t make a priority of hiring women. Many companies like Bank of America, Target, and Moss Adams have initiatives specifically to hire and support women. Instead, the challenge is the trickle of women who have been able to break the ceiling into executive-level management. Why is this important? As I’ve mentioned, I think these ad campaigns are great. They hit me right in the feels. But we shouldn’t kid ourselves that executive leadership in corporate business have all of a sudden decided to started seeing women’s intrinsic rather than profitable value. These ad campaigns represent consumer-product companies telling women what they think they want to hear, without changing their executive structure to practice what they preach. The message is further complicated by the fact that it affirms certain life choices for women while ignoring the millions of women who choose to be the chief operating officer of their homes. Commercials are fine and awareness is nice, but until women have a seat at the table, these campaigns are a case of “Do as I say, not as I do.” By all means, dream big, princess—as long as you don’t dream of being an executive at Disney. If you do, you’re buying exactly what they’re selling."


Weekend Reading on Women's Representation April 14, 2017

Posted on Blog on April 14, 2017

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.


Weekend Reading on Women's Representation April 7, 2017

Posted on Blog on April 07, 2017

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.


Detroit News

Posted on News Coverage on April 04, 2017

Women today are a majority of voters, but progress toward political parity is virtually stagnant. Fewer than 1 in 5 House members are women, only four governors are women, and women’s share of state legislative seats has never reached even 25 percent. The United States now ranks 104th among nations for representation of women in national legislatures — a steep decline from 44th in 1995. At this rate, parity is at best centuries away. Why so little progress? There are several reasons, including cultural attitudes and bias. But a there’s an oft-overlooked barrier: our voting rules. When Rankin broke through the representation barrier, Montana elected two House seats statewide rather than in separate districts. 1916 was a tough year for Republicans in Montana, with Democratic presidential nominee Woodrow Wilson easily winning the state. But Rankin won by finishing second. A year later the legislature carved the state into districts, gerrymandering Rankin into a more Democratic one. She unsuccessfully sought a Senate seat.


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