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A Pitch of Political Diversity

Posted on News Coverage on October 15, 2017

Pennsylvania ranks second-to-last out of all 50 states — ahead of only Mississippi — in electing women to representative positions in government, according to an organization called Representation2020. The Maryland-based initiative ranked every state in the U.S. this year and gave the commonwealth an F, with a “gender parity” score of 6.5 out of a goal of 50 points.



Weekend Reading on Women's Representation September 15, 2017

Posted on Blog on September 15, 2017

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.


Weekend Reading on Women's Representation September 8, 2017

Posted on Blog on September 08, 2017

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.


Monarchy or Democracy: Which Yields More Women's Leadership?

Posted on Blog on August 30, 2017

This past Saturday was Women’s Equality Day, which marked the anniversary of the Nineteenth Amendment. In the United States, women make up just 25% of state legislators, and even less at the federal level. And of course, we have never elected a woman as President. After 97 years of women’s suffrage, we should do better. But how? We looked to the rest of the world, and we found a solution: monarchy. You may be thinking of monarchy as an old-fashioned, outdated institution, and in many ways it is. But there is one way in which it strides ahead of democracy, and that is the number of women who have, as queens and empresses, led their countries. In these monarchies, throughout history and all over the world, there are countless examples of women’s political capabilities.


Weekend Reading on Women's Representation August 18, 2017

Posted on Blog on August 18, 2017

In the last few decades "identity politics" has been more acceptable to democratic voters than to republican voters but a heated debate is now brewing among democratic party loyalists around whether to jettison specific identity groups and instead embrace a big tent of issues and policy platforms. I have been thinking a lot about this issue and feeling increasingly dismayed by those who would seem to suggest that it's women and people of color who have identities while white, rural, men are identityless. All of us have identities and should have the opportunity to have our interests represented in government. Our current winner take all voting system pits constituencies against one another - fueling the perception that some voters are liabilities - despite their unparalleled party loyalty - while other voters are the ticket to success. I found some answers to my questions about identity politics at a lovely dinner last week in Cambridge, MA with Harvard Law professor Lani Guinier. Many of you will remember that then-president Bill Clinton nominated her to be Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights in the spring of 1993 and then withdrew the nomination when others attacked Guinier for her writing about representative democracy and power. My husband Rob and I have known and admired Lani for a long time precisely because of her thinking and writing about authentic representation. Dubbed the 'quota queen' by the press who vilified her she cheerfully passed on that mantle to me last week! Lani reaffirmed my belief that identity does and should matter - she believes that women must rise up and support (qualified) women because yes, they are women.


Weekend Reading on Women's Representation July 21, 2017

Posted on Blog on July 21, 2017

This week marked the 169th anniversary of the Seneca Falls Convention where a group of women - who had been excluded from a abolitionist convention because of their gender - met to discuss women's equality. While it took another 70 years to win suffrage the bonds that formed in July of 1848 grounded the conversation that is still evolving today. Many of us were reminded of the power of gatherings like Seneca Falls at the incredibly successful event that IGNITE and Running Start hosted in Washington, DC this week. Nearly every hand went up when the room full of diverse young women was asked if they plan to run for office. It was a thrill to be on a panel with other women's representation enthusiasts that included Erin Vilardi from VoteRunLead, Monica Ramirez from Latinas Represent, Kimberly Peeler-Allen from Higher Heights, Mindy Finn from Empowered Women, Erin Loos Cutraro from She Should Run, and Larissa Martinez from RightNOW. Here is a link to our segment of the two day program that was packed with impressive and inspiring speakers.


Starting from the Bottom is Why We're Here: Representation in Political Theory

Posted on Blog on July 21, 2017

Over the past year we’ve been looking at powerful women, and the lack thereof, in executive, legislative, judicial, civil service, and security positions. We want to provide data to help contextualize questions of barriers preventing women from climbing up the public service ladder, and eventually provide a tool for overcoming these barriers - from legislation to grassroots organizing. But these questions got me thinking, not necessarily about the pathways and obstacles that individual women face in their journeys to public leadership, but about the pathway that our society is currently on, and how unchanged that pathway has remained since Athens in the fifth century B.C. It is called “the canon” – specifically, the political theory canon. This canon, and the men that have created it, defined not only western political thinking, but western political structures. These works are considered timeless– which means that not only are their grandiose ideas of liberty and democracy carried into the 21st century, but their bigotry and biases come along too.


The Declaration of Sentiments: Then and Now

Posted on Blog on July 20, 2017

This week marks the 169th anniversary of a revolutionary event in the women's rights movement: the Seneca Falls Convention and the signing of the Declaration of Sentiments. It is an opportunity to reflect on how far our nation has come - or rather, how far we haven't.


Weekend Reading on Women's Representation July 14, 2017

Posted on Blog on July 14, 2017

​​Happy Bastille Day! ​​Next week is the 169th anniversary of the gathering at Seneca Falls, NY of abolitionists and suffragists to talk about achieving women's equality. I find the story of that meeting, the issues that were addressed, and the unity they found, incredibly powerful. Here is the text from the Declaration of Sentiments which ends with this clarion call: In entering upon the great work before us, we anticipate no small amount of misconception, misrepresentation, and ridicule; but we shall use every instrumentality within our power to effect our object. We shall employ agents, circulate tracts, petition the State and national Legislatures, and endeavor to enlist the pulpit and the press in our behalf. We hope this Convention will be followed by a series of Conventions, embracing every part of the country.


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