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Pages tagged "RepresentWomen in the News"

CT Mirror


 By Representation2020 board member Brittany Stalsburg

While voters and political pundits alike are still hashing out what exactly happened on November 8, there is one conclusion about the election that most cannot deny: many voters felt they didn’t have adequate choices.

In fact, this conclusion could have been drawn early on, in the months leading up to the election.. In July, before the major parties even declared their nominees, a solid majority (58 percent) of Americans said they were dissatisfied with the choice between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, according to a Washington Post/ABC News Poll.

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The Portland Press Herald

While more women of color were just elected to the U.S. House and Senate than ever before, the overall number of women in Congress remains the same, the number of women governors dropped to just five and women’s share of state legislative seats is still under 25 percent. The United States now ranks 99th among nations for the representation of women, a steep decline from 44th in 1995.

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By Amanda Marcotte

A month ago, most observers — even Republicans! — believed we would be inaugurating the first female president in January. But even though Hillary Clinton won the national popular vote by a margin that now exceeds 2.6 million ballots, it was not enough to secure the necessary victory in the Electoral College.

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Beware the Green Mountain Glass Ceiling

By Ruth Hardy

In this post-election world where a highly qualified woman lost the presidency to a misogynist bully, and women failed to make meaningful gains nationally in the long quest for gender parity among elected officials, our elected leaders in “progressive Vermont” have much work to do to prove that women in politics in our state are valued as equals.

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Janine Jackson: Cynthia Terrell directs the Representation 20/20 project at the group FairVote. She joins us now by phone. Cynthia Terrell, what now for diversity in Congress?

Cynthia Terrell: There’s never been a successful tale to tell yet about diversity in Congress, which is one of those, I think, undertold stories about this election, and so many other elections. There, of course, were a few great spots this last Tuesday, particularly for women of color. In the Senate, in the House, there will be nine new women of color, who happen to all be Democrats in Congress, three in the US Senate and six in the House, so that’s terrific. But I think the overall picture and the overall climate for change is not very positive for women or for people of color, and that’s something that we’re going to have to address.

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The Establishment

“We just put the biggest crack in that glass ceiling yet.”

-Hillary Clinton, Democratic National Convention, July 26, 2016

By Katie Toth

I’ll be honest: When I heard that battle cry from Hillary Clinton after her nomination as the first female presidential nominee of a major party, I rolled my eyes.

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Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

The nation may soon wake up to its first woman president and a record number of women senators, but down ballot, the news is not good for women in elected office.

At least 44 of our 50 governors will be men next year, and the U.S. standing among all nations for representation of women has declined from 44th in 1995 to 96th in 2016.

In Pennsylvania, very little progress has been made despite political party policies aimed at achieving gender parity.

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It's Time Network

In order to address the complex and interdependent issues that exist in our world today, people across the gender spectrum must work in partnership for collective impact and systemic change. To facilitate and support this, It’s Time Network is building a national network of individuals and organizations across sectors that engage, support, and elevate women and girls, so we can work collectively to evolve democracybuild fair economies, and regenerate the Earth.

It’s Time Network affiliates with innovative, independent thought leaders representing a full spectrum of issues, sectors and lived experiences.

One of these leaders is Cynthia Terrell, co-founder of FairVote, a non-partisan reform nonprofit that works to make each voice count in elections at every level by way of structural electoral reforms. Since helping to found FairVote in 1992, Cynthia has been on a mission to find practical ways to advance proportional representation voting methods informed by American, candidate-centered values in order to represent the full spectrum of voters more fairly.


Starting at an early age, Cynthia became active in student government. In college, she worked on numerous candidates’ campaigns, passed ballot measures, and even won three campaigns of her own for student council president. After college she became increasingly aware of the underrepresentation of women and racial minorities in positions of political power, and the need for more meaningful and innovative discussions around the voting system. In partnership with her husband, Cynthia set out on a mission to change this, and opened the doors to their first office under the name the Center for Voting and Democracy.

In 2004, they changed the name to FairVote, embracing additional reform innovations like the national popular vote plan for presidential elections,universal voter registration and a right to vote in the Constitution. As Americans, it is our vote that elects representatives at all levels of government. FairVote believes each viewpoint must be respected, every voice must be heard and each vote be counted. To make this a reality, it’s important that we make democracy work for everyone, hearing not just the opinion of the majority, but those of the minority as well.

In 2013, Cynthia and her team launched Representation2020, a program of FairVote that focuses on raising awareness around the underrepresentation of women in elected office, to strengthen coalitions that are supportive of measures to increase women's representation, and to highlight the often overlooked structural barriers to achieving gender parity in American elections. While women make up 51% of the U.S. population, they make up only 19% of congress, 24% of state legislators and 12% of governors. Cynthia supports efforts to encourage and prepare individual women to run, but believes that if we are to win gender parity, we must learn from the structural changes that have elected women in higher numbers in the 95 nations that rank above the United States in women’s representation.

One of the biggest challenges these programs face is that Americans don’t entirely understand our current voting system. While a handful of other nations operate under the same system as we do, our system of democracy is far from the norm. Many believe that money, power, and success come to those who simply work hard, but that is hardly the truth for women and minorities, who face barriers to leadership that we must break down through systemic change.

Alongside the mission of Respresentation2020, Cynthia and the FairVote team are focused on moving forward, working on getting more cities and states to implement a ranked choice voting system and fair representation voting for Congress and state legislatures. With our government being impacted by historic levels of dissatisfaction among citizens and the lowest voter turnout in years, it’s their goal to strengthen democracy at every level. FairVote looks beyond the short-term actions of political parties and power-seekers, working to develop simple and practical solutions to advance the reforms that result in a more fair election and challenge the status quo as outlined in FairVote’s Monopoly Politics report.

By empowering every citizen to have a voice, they bring power back to the vote, and make democracy work better for all. Here are some major advancements happening right now:

  • Ranked Choice Voting For All:Ranked choice voting, gives voters the opportunity to rank as many candidates as they want in order of choice, rather than having to vote for just one candidate among two main party options. San Francisco was the first city to switch to ranked choice voting, adopting the system to elect all city officials by a charter amendment in 2002 and holding its first ranked choice voting elections in 2004. Currently, ranked choice voting has been implemented in four Bay Area cities in California. Voters in Berkeley, Oakland, San Francisco and San Leandro were able to elect leaders in a high turnout presidential election instead of having to rely on either low turnout runoffs in December or low turnout primaries in June. Studies have confirmed that ranked choice voting elects more women and people of color, while also increasing civility and reducing the impact of money on campaigns, as candidates have an incentive to get second and third choice votes from their opponents supporters. With the hope of adding more to the list of participating cities, FairVote tracks bills in state legislatures that move innovations forward. Check out these lists to see if there’s pending reform legislation in your state.

  • Maine Taking The Reigns: While Maine has a long history of independent thinkers in local, state, and national offices, the state also has a large number of independent voters that have elected governors, U.S. Senators, and state legislators from a variety of parties. Though ranked choice voting was introduced to Maine voters in Portland in 2011, the Committee for Ranked Choice Voting, a citizen-led grassroots organization, is now pioneering efforts to promote majority winners in statewide elections through a statewide measure for ranked choice voting that is on the ballot this November. Check out the video describing the benefits of ranked choice voting in Maine.

Cynthia Terrell’s work  to make American democracy fair by changing the way we vote, and giving voters more voice and greater choice in their elections is truly inspiring.
Change starts with you! What can you do right now? Be agents of change within your community by working to get ranked choice voting adopted in your city or on your college campus. Using the Ranked Choice Voting Activist Toolkit, supporters are given the necessary tools to become leaders, activist, and organizers, creating change at every level of government.

If you’d like to learn more about FairVote, and stay updated on their mission, check out their website, and follow them on Facebook or Twitter.

The Baltimore Sun

The nation may soon wake up to its first-ever woman president and most-ever women senators, but down ballot, the news is not good for women in elected office. At least 44 governors will be men next year, and the U.S rank among all nations for the representation of women has declined from 44th in 1995 to 96th in 2016.

Consider Maryland. In 1993, Maryland ranked 5th in Representation2020's Gender Parity Index, which measures women in local, state and federal office. While women have made up at least 32 percent of the state's House of Delegates since 1995, Maryland has never elected a woman to be governor, attorney general or comptroller. None of Maryland's five largest counties have women executives, either, and only two of Maryland's 10 largest cities have women mayors. Maryland has dropped to 21st in our index, and it's about to get worse.

FairVote's Monopoly Politics has near-perfect accuracy in forecasting congressional winners. Men are favored to win every House seat in Maryland this year, with only Republican Amie Hoeber having an uphill chance in the 6th district. Chris Van Hollen is heavily favored to replace Barbara Mikulski in the U.S. Senate, positioning Maryland to have its first all-male congressional delegation since 1972.

What can Marylanders do to elect more women and keep them in office? Structure matters. Our research shows that structural reforms are essential for clear and lasting impact on women's electoral success.

First, we need to improve recruitment. Better recruitment entails challenging the institutions that influence who runs for office — like PACs, donors and political parties — to set targets for the number of women candidates they recruit and support. These voluntary targets mimic the quotas that are used in over 100 nations to fuel the election of women candidates and are similar to the widely accepted gender balance that comes from rules in other fields like entertainment and athletics.

Second, we need fair voting systems that give people the power to choose their representation. Fair voting combines multi-winner districts with ranked choice voting. Multi-winner districts (where more than one member represents a community) have a history of electing more women. Ranked choice voting allows voters to rank candidates in order of choice. Like-minded voters are able to support the candidates they like the best without fear their vote will help the candidate they like the least. That creates openings for women, people of color and all parties in areas that are now one-party strongholds. It is in use today across the country and can be used at the local, state and federal level without amending the U.S. Constitution.

Third, we need to promote better legislative practices for collaborative policy making. Better internal legislative practices can help women — and men — juggle the demands of family and their elected office. Tailored to the specifics of the level of office, changes include better on-site child care, paid leave, virtual or proxy voting, and leadership selection processes based on both merit and intentional actions to elevate women to leadership positions.

We have strong precedents for such changes. Title IX leveled the playing field for girls and women in education and athletics, while the Voting Rights Act addressed systems that disadvantaged people of color. Republicans led the way nearly 100 years ago to enact gender quotas for their state and national party committees as well as convention delegates from many states, with the Democrats following suit. The common thread is that we addressed inequality by changing the rules and laws — not just by expecting individuals to change.

Maryland can lead the nation again on women's representation if we look at innovative strategies that challenge the status quo and bring new talented voices to the table.

Cynthia Terrell is a founder of Representation2020 and FairVote. Her email is [email protected].

C-SPAN Classroom

This section of the website, developed by our 2015 Summer Teacher Fellows, provides explanations of the various aspects of the election process for candidates vying to become the next President of the United States. Separated into 10 main areas, each topic is supplemented with related video clips, discussion questions, handouts, and culminating activities to reinforce students' learning.

Gender & Presidential Campaigns

  • Video Clip: Millennial Women and the Election (07/26/16 – 3:30)
    A panel discussed the demographic of millennial women, the issues important to them, and their impact in electoral politics.
  • Video Clip: The Number of Women in Elected Office (10/17/2015 – 5:36)
    Cynthia Terrell talked about Representation 2020's report, The State of Women's Representation 2015-2016: A Blueprint for Reaching Gender Parity, which shows women are underrepresented in national, state, and local-level elected offices. She also examined possible solutions to achieve parity.
  • Video Clip: Impact of Women in Politics (01/03/2014 – 3:41)
    American University Women and Politics Institute Director Jennifer Lawless talked about the number of women in political office as of 2014.
  • Video Clip: Statistics of Women in Politics (6/9/2008 – 1:57)
    Fred Hochberg, Dean of the Milano New School for Management & Urban Policy gave the introductory speech, which included statistics about the number of women in politics in the U.S.
  • Video Clip: Media Coverage of Sen. Hillary Clinton’s 2008 Campaign (7/9/2008 – 6:32)
    A discussion titled, "Women in Charge: The Evolving Role of Women in Politics" was held in the Anna-Maria and Stephen Kellen Auditorium of the Sheila C. Johnson Design Center. Panelists Andrea Bernstein, Dee Dee Myers, & Ellen Malcolm discuss the media's coverage of Hillary Clinton's 2008 presidential campaign. *Some language may be offensive to younger viewers.*
  • Video Clip: Benefits of Gender in Sen. Hillary Clinton's 2008 Campaign (7/9/2008 – 6:09)
    A discussion titled, "Women in Charge: The Evolving Role of Women in Politics" was held in the Anna-Maria and Stephen Kellen Auditorium of the Sheila C. Johnson Design Center. Panelists Andrea Bernstein, Dee Dee Myers, & Ellen Malcolm discuss the ways that gender benefitted Clinton's 2008 campaign.
  • Video Clip: Sen. Hillary Clinton's Concession Speech 2008 (6/7/2008 – 7:51)
    Senator Hillary Clinton spoke to her supporters during a final campaign rally at the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C. She spoke about the race and gender barriers her and Sen. Obama broke during their campaigns.
  • Video Clip: Women as Voters (3/25/2008 – 7:28)
    Panelist Susan Carroll talked about women as voters and activists. She focused on the suffrage movement and emerging trends among women voters in the 2008 election and beyond. This event was held at the Sewall-Belmont House and Museum.
  • Video Clip: 2008 Gov. Sarah Palin Vice Presidential Acceptance Speech (9/3/2008 – 3:09)
    Governor Sarah Palin (R-AK) said she would accept the Republican Party’s nomination as vice president at the 2008 Republican National Convention.
  • Video Clip: 1984 Rep. Geraldine Ferraro Vice Presidential Campaign Nomination Announcement (07/19/1984 – 2:12)
    Footage from the 1984 Democratic National Convention at which Rep. Geraldine Ferraro (D-NY) accepted the Democratic party's nomination for Vice President.
  • Video Clip: 1972 Rep. Shirley Chisholm Presidential Campaign Announcement (01/25/1972 – 4:54)
    Representative Shirley Chisholm (D-NY) announced her bid to run for the Democratic nomination for the 1972 presidential campaign against presumed Republican nominee President Nixon.

Culminating Assessment:

  1. Have students create a timeline of historical events in the race and gender equality movements. Then discuss progress and areas where we still need to improve.
  2. Research other minorities and women who have run for office. How was their path similar or dissimilar to the examples provided above?