Pages tagged "Topic: Women SERVE"
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.
In the 2021 ranked choice voting primary elections, women in New York City made history, securing a majority on the city council. Two years later, RepresentWomen sought to uncover the impact of a woman majority council, as well as which barriers persist despite these women being in office.
The questions we sought to answer include:
- What are the primary benefits of having a woman majority council? More specifically, who benefits from a woman majority and why?
- What challenges and barriers remain, despite a woman majority, and what needs to be done to sustain a gender-balanced council?
- Which legislation passed by women in the past session is most notable and why? Does this notable legislation disproportionately impact women?
- Why were women essential in getting these issues to the table? Would these issues have been addressed otherwise?
Our research found that a woman of color majority council had a significant impact on both women’s issues, such as maternal health, menstrual equity, childcare access, and reproductive rights, as well as gender-neutral issues, such as ensuring salary transparency, language access and cost-of-living adjustments for all New Yorkers. Having women in leadership positions as well as a built-in majority on the Women’s Caucus were both instrumental in creating this impact.
In sum, the impact of a woman majority city council includes:
- Women in leadership positions create a ripple effect, enabling women to uplift one another and reducing bias across the council.
- Diversity on the council leads to a shift in priorities; Since the majority women of color council better mirrors the demographics of the city, this allows for a wider variety of issues to be brought to the table.
- A larger Women’s Caucus has become more legislatively efficient, particularly regarding reproductive rights and maternal healthcare. With a built-in majority, the women don’t have to fight to explain why these issues are essential.
- Structural barriers persist, impacting the woman council members' day-to-day work. With dated buildings and protocols, women face barriers that are unique and more pervasive than for their men counterparts.
All New Yorkers benefit from a diverse council. The council’s shared lived experiences with their constituents, different legislative perspectives, and representation of their communities make its members prone to collaborate, understand one another, and support each other to serve both their districts and the city as a whole.
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.
Electing more women to government will strengthen our democracy by making it more representative, improving policy outcomes, encouraging a new style of leadership, and cultivating trust in our elected bodies.
To advance women's representation and leadership in the United States, we must adopt proven policy solutions that address the structural barriers women face as candidates & as elected officials. These institutional strategies are a natural complement to individual candidate training programs.
Gender balanced funding and recruitment targets so more women RUN
Establish or join a Women’s Caucus that oversees the following:
- Developing targets for the recruitment of women candidates.
- Evaluating the best practices to encourage more women to run.
- Preparing an annual report on the status of women's representation in: party leadership, elected offices, and appointed positions.
Support legislation that allows candidates to use campaign funds to pay for childcare expenses.
Ranked choice voting so more women WIN
Upgrade the voting system to use ranked choice voting (also known as instant run-off voting) for both single and multi-winner elections. Maine and Alaska are the only US states who have used RCV in statewide elections - Alaska's first use being in 2022. Maine is ranked second in RepresentWomen’s 2022 Gender Parity Index.
Policy language examples:
Legislative rules changes so more women can SERVE
Modernize the governmental workplace so that all legislators can serve effectively once elected with the following rules changes:
- On-site childcare
- Paid leave for legislators
- Telecommuting Proxy voting
- Family-friendly schedules
- Living wages for legislators
Policy language examples:
Gender balanced appointment targets so more women LEAD
Recruitment for top staff and leadership positions must engage diverse slates of candidates to ensure gender balanced representation.
Adopt rules for gender balanced appointments. Commit to diverse appointments to cabinets, commissions and vacancies, establishing or maintaining gender balance as the norm.
Policy language examples:
The barriers women face do not end once elected. Congress, state legislatures, and local governments must modernize their internal practices and culture so that women legislators can serve and lead effectively. Erratic work schedules, low pay rates, geographic distance, and unfair leadership selection processes serve as a challenge for many women—especially those caring for relatives and managing households. Although these reforms would benefit men and women, these issues disproportionately affect women and will continue barring women from serving. It's time we change that. It's time we help women SERVE.
RepresentWomen is a nonpartisan, 501c3 non-profit organization committed to strengthening our democracy by advancing reforms that break down barriers to ensure more women can Run, Win, Serve, and Lead. As both candidates and elected officials, women continue to face structural barriers that men simply do not; and these barriers require systemic reforms to level the playing field. "RUN WIN SERVE LEAD: Best Practices for a Gender-Balanced Democracy" highlights the topline findings from our research on the systems-level strategies that accelerate progress toward gender-balanced governance.