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Report: 2023 Annual Report

Timeline

Where we began: In August 2013, “Representation2020” (now RepresentWomen) was launched to study progress towards gender-balanced governance in the U.S. and identify structural barriers and solutions to women’s representation. We began as a fiscally-sponsored project of FairVote, a nonpartisan organization that champions the use of single- and multi-winner ranked choice voting in the United States. Our initial goal was to achieve gender-balanced representation in politics by 2020.

Our new beginning: In the fall of 2018, Representation2020 separated from FairVote to become RepresentWomen, a nonpartisan research-based organization dedicated to advancing systems-level solutions for women’s underrepresentation in politics, under the leadership of RepresentWomen’s Executive Director and Founder Cynthia Richie Terrell. Within a year of forming its own board and mission, RepresentWomen secured a multi-year grant from Pivotal Ventures and hired its first staffer.

Where we are now: As of 2023, RepresentWomen’s team has grown to include eleven staff and four teams (research, partnerships, communications, and operations). RepresentWomen’s staff is led by a leadership team of four: Executive Director Cynthia Richie Terrell, Operations Director Michele McCrary, Research Director Courtney Lamendola, and Partnerships Director Katie Usalis. In addition to our staff and leadership, RepresentWomen continues to work with IREX fellows and seasonal interns. To date, RepresentWomen has mentored over 100 fellows and interns.

Our Work

We are committed to achieving gender balance in the United States, where women are in elected and appointed positions, at every level of government, in equal proportion to their presence in the population. Having more women in government will strengthen our democracy by making it more representative, reviving bipartisanship and collaboration, improving policy outcomes, encouraging a new style of leadership, and cultivating trust in our elected bodies.

Feature resources and programs rolled out in 2023 included: 

Through agenda-setting, research, and engagement, we are creating new ways for women to assume power in the United States. To date, our team has:

  • Released 40+ research reports,
  • Published 800+ blogs and op-eds,
  • Participated in well over 350 events, and
  • Supported 15+ state and local RCV campaigns.

To learn more about our strategy, our growth in the last five years, and our work in 2023, please turn to our annual report. 

2023 Annual Report 


Report: 2023 Gender Parity Index

Executive Summary

In August 2013, RepresentWomen launched the Gender Parity Index (GPI) to help researchers and advocates track progress toward gender-balanced governance and identify opportunities for increasing women’s political representation in the U.S. Each year, we assign all 50 states a Gender Parity Score, letter grade, and ranking according to their proximity to parity. One of the key takeaways from this exercise is that progress toward gender balance is slower and less stable than it first appears. 

In the first Gender Parity Index, 40 states earned a “D” grade (< 25.0) or worse (< 10.0); the remaining ten states were split evenly between “Cs” (< 33.0) and “Bs” (< 50.0), and no state achieved an “A” (50.0 and above). Ten years later, Maine and Oregon have both achieved an “A” for the first time, 24 states are split evenly between “Bs” and “Cs,” 23 states have earned a “D,” and Louisiana is the only failing state. 

The 2023 Index reflects recent record-breaking progress for women in the U.S. government, particularly state executives. Following the 2022 elections, 12 states have women governors, breaking the previous record of nine. Correspondingly, six of the top ten states in the 2023 GPI have women governors, including Maine (1st), Oregon (2nd), Michigan (3rd), New Mexico (4th), Iowa (7th), and Massachusetts (9th). 

While it is true that women’s representation has increased, the 2023 GPI shows that women are still underrepresented at every level of government in the U.S., holding just one-third of all elected positions, despite comprising over 50% of the population. Women of color are further underrepresented, holding approximately one-tenth of all elected positions. This year’s GPI further shows that:

  • Record-breaking wins have resulted in incremental gains for women. Headlines that announce record highs for women in politics are often misleading; women remain underrepresented at every level of government. Net gains for women are generally smaller than they appear, slowing progress.
  • Not every state is on an upward trajectory toward parity; some states, such as New Hampshire and Louisiana, have even lost progress over time. 
    • New Hampshire ranked first and achieved an “A” between 2015-2018 and again in 2020; it now ranks 10th with a score of 41/100 (grade: B).
    • Louisiana ranked 28th in the first GPI with a score of 16/100 (grade: D); it now has a score of 9/100 (grade: F) and ranks 50th in the 2023 GPI.
  • Gains for women are concentrated in the Northeast and West Coast, while women’s representation in Midwestern and Southern states lags far behind. 
  • Democratic women are outpacing Republican women in elected office, suggesting that progress toward parity will eventually slow unless a) more Republican women are elected or b) more Democratic women than men are elected.
  • Systemic reform is needed to level the playing field and create more opportunities for women to enter and remain in office. Rather than replace existing candidate-focused strategies, systemic reforms can function in a complementary manner to bring out the best of both strategies. 

2023 Report 2023 Methodology 2023 Score Table 2023 State Pages 2013-2023 Dashboard


Report: The Twin-Track Ecosystem in the 100 Largest Cities

Released: November 2022

In 2022, we released a follow-up to our report on women's representation in New York City, “Why Women Won in 2021.” In the report, we expand upon and re-evaluate our findings by researching 1) women’s representation in the next-largest cities in the U.S., and 2) which of the factors we observed in NYC are also present in these cities. The report concludes with a list of guiding takeaways,  aimed at changemakers interested in bringing the best practices and strategies that worked in New York City to other major cities. 

The Four Factors

Four conditions were uniquely met in New York, and thus examined in the next 100 largest cities. These were the presence of: (1) term limits, (2) public financing, (3) ranked choice voting, and (4) candidate organizations. Including NYC, 52% of the cities meet at least one of the four conditions.

Where Next?

Including NYC, 27 of the top 100 cities have councils majority-led (50% +1) by women and an additional 13 cities are at parity with women holding 50% of all seats. Just one city other than NYC has all four of the systems-focused and candidate-focused factors that make up the twin-track ecosystem: San Francisco. Four cities have two of the four factors we traced: Oakland, Denver, Long Beach, and Los Angeles.

 

Key Question: How many cities have more than one of the factors covered by the twin-track ecosystem?

City, State

Council

Seats

Council

Women

Percent Women

Term Limits

Matching Funds

Ranked Choice Voting

Local Women's Candidate Orgs

New York City, NY

51

31

61%

X

X

X

X

San Francisco, CA

11

4

36%

X

X

X

X

Oakland, CA

8

5

63%

 

X

X

 

Denver, CO

13

8

62%

X

X

   

Long Beach, CA

9

5

56%

X

X

   

Los Angeles, CA

15

4

27%

X

X

   

 

Our recommendations for “where next” are split between four cities. Depending on whether our partners are more interested in 1) achieving gender balance where it is lacking, or 2) sustaining current levels of women’s representation where it exists, our suggested target cities change. 

Our first option suggests focussing on Los Angeles and San Francisco. In Los Angeles, there is an opportunity for RCV and a local WCG to be introduced. Though San Francisco technically already has all four twin-track factors, there is room for building on the existing infrastructure to ensure that more women run viable campaigns in each election.

Our second option suggests focus should be on Denver, and Long Beach. Many cities in the top 100 have small city councils, showing there are clear opportunities to invest in better systems and candidate support infrastructure in all parts of the country. Per our initial analysis, these two cities would benefit from ranked choice voting and local WCGs. Since both have small councils and term limits, women’s representation is likely to fluctuate in the future without additional support.

Key Takeaways

  • A twin-track approach creates viable, local-level opportunities for women. A twin-track approach is the best way to achieve gender balance in our lifetimes. Moreover, both tracks must be multidimensional in depth. The candidate track must go beyond recruitment, and the systems track must involve efficient implementation and education. 
  • The results of the twin-track approach will inevitably vary in every city. Political environments and agendas, the role of local media, the rate of pay for officeholders, and other factors are not consistent across the U.S. But, even if the magnitude of the results are different, the components within the twin-track approach have proven to be beneficial and merit implementation. 
  • Actualizing the twin-track approach requires increased financial support. Gratuitous support from local community members can be effective but is not sustainable. In order to maintain training programs, host voter education initiatives, and provide endorsed candidates with additional funding, women's candidate groups need the help of philanthropists, changemakers, and partner organizations alike. 

 

View the Report 


Report: Gender Equality in Egypt 2011-2022

RepresentWomen is a research and action hub that promotes evidence-based solutions to improve women’s political representation and leadership in the United States and abroad. At RepresentWomen, we know that women’s representation in government strengthens the quality of democracy. We envision a future where women have equal opportunities to enter elected and appointed office. To achieve this goal, we work in partnership with researchers and practitioners around the world who are similarly invested in creating opportunities for women in government. 

Our research on international women’s representation is centered around the role of rules and systems, and how they shape opportunities for women in politics. Through this research, we have learned that progress is being made toward gender-balanced governance in many parts of the world, but often requires time and deliberate effort. Between our international reports, regional briefs, and independent studies, our team seeks to identify and share the “best practices” for advancing women’s representation and leadership. 

Gender Equality in Egypt 2011-2022 explores the progression of gender equality and women’s rights in Egypt over the last decade. Topics included in this report range from women-related national strategies in Egypt; amendments to  the Constitution; new laws and executive decisions; women’s political, economic and social empowerment; and a discussion of feminism, gender, and equality. 

The objectives of this report are to: 1) analyze the elements that contributed to Egypt’s progress toward gender equality; 2) review Egypt’s latest efforts to improve gender equality and develop recommendations that the country can use to achieve gender balance; and 3) provide examples from other countries’ policies and plans on how to overcome the structural barriers that limit opportunities for women seeking positions in government.

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Report: Why Women Won in 2021

Released: September 2022

In 2022, we released a report on the outcome of the 2021 elections in New York City. RepresentWomen partnered with The New Majority NYC (formerly 21 in '21) to study 1) the impact of term limits, matching funds, ranked choice voting, and candidate-focused strategies on women's representation, 2) how these factors worked together to bring NYC a majority-women council for the first time in history, and 3) what it will take to maintain and build upon this success story in the future. 

View the Report Executive Summary


Report: 2022 Gender Parity Index

To quantify progress towards gender parity in elected and appointed office, RepresentWomen developed the Gender Parity Index (GPI). Each year, a Gender Parity Score and grade is calculated for each of the 50 states and for the United States as a whole. The Gender Parity Score reflects women's recent electoral successes at the local, state, and national levels on a scale of 0 (if no women were elected to any offices) to 100 (if women held all elected offices). The key advantage of the GPI is that it enables comparisons to be made over time and among states. 

The 2022 Gender Parity Index

As of June 2022, there are 147 (28%) women in Congress: 24 in the Senate and 123 in the House. In 333 statewide elective executive offices, 101 (30%) are either led or co-led by women. Of 7,383 seats in state legislatures, women hold 2,295 (31%). At the local level, 367 (25%) of 1,465 cities are represented by women, and 80 (33%) of the five largest county governments in each state are either led or co-led by women.

And yet, overall progress towards parity is frustratingly incremental in the U.S. In 2022, the average parity score is 24.8. If we round up, this brings us to an average score of 25 out of 100, which means we are halfway to parity. In 2021, the average score was 24.6; two years ago, it was 23.8.

2022 Report Methodology Score Chart State-by-State Graphics


Report: Gender Balanced Cabinets

RepresentWomen is a research-based advocacy group that promotes the use of systems strategies to advance women's representation and leadership in the U.S. and around the world. To achieve our mission, RepresentWomen partners with allies across the country and political spectrum who help amplify our work by putting what we've researched into practice. By working in concert with our allies to address the barriers to office, we can ensure that more women RUN, WIN, SERVE, and LEAD. 

In January 2022, RepresentWomen conducted an analysis of the demographic makeup of cabinets in all 50 states. For all but one state (Florida), the governor appoints all or most cabinet members. The average state cabinet has a membership of less than 40% women. Only 12 states have achieved gender balance in their cabinets. 

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Report: Best Practices for Promoting Gender Balanced Appointments

RepresentWomen is a research-based advocacy group that promotes the use of systems strategies to advance women's representation and leadership in the U.S. and around the world. To achieve our mission, RepresentWomen partners with allies across the country and political spectrum who help amplify our work by putting what we've researched into practice. By working in concert with our allies to address the barriers to office, we can ensure that more women RUN, WIN, SERVE, and LEAD. 

To inform our own programming on advancing gender-balanced appointments and to establish a scalable, replicable, transformative model for advancing gender-balanced appointments, RepresentWomen gathered learnings from five similar initiatives around the country. 

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Country Brief: Latin America

Gender quotas have uniquely defined Latin American politics since their conception. In 1991, Argentina became the first country in the world to adopt legislative gender quotas. Soon after, other countries in Latin America and around the world began to do the same. Of the five countries in the world that have achieved gender parity in their legislatures, three are in Latin America. Whether due to the fact that they were among the first to embrace gender quotas or because of other underlying factors, it is clear that the region has many success stories when it comes to women's representation. 

Yet, that is not to say that every country in this region is succeeding at achieving gender-balanced governance. There is great diversity in performance on women's representation in Latin America, which hints that gender quotas, though helpful, may not be the only solution needed to achieve gender parity. 

This brief analyzes trends in Latin America, defined by 19 countries located in Central and South America, to: 

  • Determine what factors support or hinder a country's journey to gender parity.
  • Guide the United States in its own journey to achieve parity. 

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Country Brief: Arab States

Over half (55%) of Arab states ensure women's representation through gender quotas (mostly reserved seats). Our research indicates that women in countries with gender quotas are better represented by women than they are in countries without quotas. But even in countries that have achieved higher levels of representation, more needs to be done to ensure that women have meaningful opportunities to lead. To learn more about the status of women's representation in Arab states, refer to our full brief. 

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