women's representation

Incarcerated Women

Posted on Our Research on September 10, 2020

In the past few decades there has been heightened interest in and scholarship in incarceration and the incarcerated population in the United States. However, much of this research has surrounded male incarceration rates, often overlooking the growing number of incarcerated women. While male incarceration rates have steadily declined in the past decade with the help of public scrutiny, women have become the fastest-growing incarcerated population. Between 1980 and 2017, the population of incarcerated women has risen by 750% (The Sentencing Project, 2019). Along with the rapid growth, incarcerated and formerly incarcerated women face unique challenges in re-entering society and regaining voting rights all of which impact their political representation. To learn more about incarcerated women and political representation read our 2020 brief below. 

infogram_0_bac16c02-595e-4dd9-9c69-1b1faaba14522020 Incarcerated Women Briefhttps://e.infogram.com/js/dist/embed.js?qfhtext/javascript


infogram_0_3f7623fc-ab02-4e4d-aa57-ef22c97bea96Voting Rights of Incarcerated ppl by Statehttps://e.infogram.com/js/dist/embed.js?e6ktext/javascript

Incarceration impacts political representation by:

  • Requiring formerly incarcerated individuals to pay legal financial obligations (LFOs) before being re-enfranchised. This pay-to-vote system is particularly difficult for formerly incarcerated women who face higher rates of unemployment both before and after incarceration than men. 
  • Prison gerrymandering counts incarcerated individuals as residents of the prison's district rather than their home communities in the decennial census. This impacts both the funding and representation given to both the prison and home communities. 

Further research and resources on the topic can be found from allies in the field at: the Vera Institute of Justice, the Prison Policy Initiative, the Sentencing Project, and the following podcast with Michele Goodwin. 

International Research

Posted on Our Research on March 03, 2020

In many countries around the world, women are entering political office at higher rates than in the United States. As of January 2021, the U.S. ranked 67th in the world for the number of women (118 of 435, or 27%) in the lower legislature, the U.S. House of Representatives. Twenty years ago, there were 61 women in the U.S. House, and the country ranked 49th for women's representation.

For our 2020 Report "Achieving Gender Parity: Systems Strategies Around the World," we continue our analysis of the impact electoral rules and systems have on women's representation and introduce our new research on women Heads of State and Government, women in executive cabinets around the world, the use of ranked choice voting internationally, and the role women's representation has on democratic rankings. 


Download 2020 Data Sample Advocacy Glossary

Interactive Dashboard Tracking Women's Representation

Scroll over the map below to see how well women are represented in their national legislatures and as executive officeholders. For each country, you will find the percentage of women in the lower (or singular) legislative house, the upper legislative house, the electoral system followed to select these women, and whether a gender quota has been used to advance women's representation at the national level. In 2020, we expanded our research to cover the history of women who have served as heads of state or government and the composition of executive cabinets around the world. 

Follow the links below this map to take a closer look at the story of women's representation in different geographic regions around the world. 

infogram_0_02d14ad5-03ff-4730-93c5-9432ab0bdda8International Data Dashboardhttps://e.infogram.com/js/dist/embed.js?nxztext/javascript

International Dashboard Africa Asia Europe North America South America Oceania

How The U.S. Ranks

In the United States, the 2020 elections heralded the largest class of women into our national legislature. With 118 women in the U.S. House of Representatives, women reached a new milestone for representation and leadership. But, when this victory is set beside the longer strides women around the world are making towards parity, it is once again clear that the United States still has a long way to go.

The Inter-Parliamentary Union tracks and ranks 193 countries for the representation of women in their national parliaments. After the 117th Congress was sworn in, the United States' ranking moved up, from 82nd (January 2020) to 67th in the world. But as new countries hold elections throughout the year, the United States' rank will continue to shift. Scroll through the following chart to see how the U.S. presently ranks in the world. 

infogram_0_8deef975-06e3-4ade-9f1e-cefbce634d97International Women's Representation | Voting Systems | Quotashttps://e.infogram.com/js/dist/embed.js?q7Rtext/javascript

Tribal Nations

Posted on Our Research on August 07, 2019

As research develops around women's political representation it often focuses on national and state levels, sometimes at the expense of other levels of elected representation. One such example of this data gap is women's current and historic political representation and voice within Tribal Nations. RepresentWomen has published preliminary research on a small number of Indigenous Nations in North America; and is in the midst of conducting an investigation into women's representation in the 576 federally recognized Tribal Nations in the 48 contiguous states and the 229 federally recognized Alaskan Native Nations and Corporations. As always RepresentWomen remains culturally humble in our approach to studying other cultures and systems of governance and are open and eager to partner with those who have more expertise. 


Download Data Case Studies Further Reading   

infogram_0_76efc537-17d0-48fb-93c1-196cee2d51dfComparison % Women Tribal Council v. City Councilhttps://e.infogram.com/js/dist/embed.js?jLStext/javascript

infogram_0_6f9f8982-d9c7-4b65-bec7-af12f3d92d2fTop 10 Tribal Councils for Women's Representationhttps://e.infogram.com/js/dist/embed.js?3s5text/javascript

Further research and resources both from experts in the field be found here: National Congress of American IndiansIndigenous Women Rising, Advance Native Political Leadership, National Caucus of Native American State LegislatorsNative Land Digital


Women's Representation in Chile: Comparative Analysis of Gender Balance Legislation in Chile and Bolivia

Posted on Blog by on July 29, 2019

Chile is the country with the highest GDP per capita and Human Development Index in South America, yet it was one of the last countries to enact a gender quota law in the region. Though higher levels of economic development should be paired with greater gender parity, the reality is that Chile ranks 84th in the world in terms of the percentage of women in Congress, with just 23 percent in the Lower and Upper Houses.

The next set of Democratic debates are coming up. Here’s something to keep in mind.

Posted on Blog by on July 29, 2019

Less than three years after the 2016 presidential election, a pattern is already emerging. Once again, we’re seeing intelligent, qualified women candidates being snubbed by voters who can’t seem to wrap their heads around the idea that a woman can be president. In his recent opinion piece in The Washington Post, Robert J. Samuelson claims that though the 2020 Democratic candidates were “articulate,” “intelligent,” and “ambitious … without seeming too egotistical or ruthless,” none of them “seemed ‘presidential.’” But if not intelligence and ambition, what makes a candidate seem presidential? There are many answers, but the one that stands out in a presidential election cycle with a historical number of women candidates is gender. 

Women's Representation

Posted on Our Challenge on July 25, 2019

RepresentWomen compiles information about the current status of women's representation through research from other organizations as well as through our own original research. 

To learn more about our research and to see how each U.S. state ranks in terms of women's representation, check out our Gender Parity Index.        

Our Mission

Posted on About Us on July 25, 2019

RepresentWomen’s mission is to strengthen our democracy by advancing reforms that break down barriers to ensure more women can run, win, serve, and lead. Even following several "record"-breaking election cycles for women candidates, women continue to be underrepresented at every level of elected office. 

More women in elected and appointed positions at every level of government will strengthen our democracy by making it more representative, reviving bi-partisanship and collaboration, improving the deliberative process, encouraging a new style of leadership, and building greater trust in our elected bodies.

RepresentWomen accomplishes its mission in these 4 ways:

infogram_0_df14cf47-f9a0-45c1-9d0b-6eade053504bOur Mission Graphichttps://e.infogram.com/js/dist/embed.js?IfDtext/javascript

RepresentWomen started as Representation2020, a program of the non-partisan reform group FairVote, that worked to build a solid intellectual foundation from which future work could grow. The team engages in research to track the status of women’s representation in the US and abroad, understand the underlying reasons women are underrepresented, and find evidence-based solutions to mitigate the problem. This inquiry resulted in a suite of reports, studies, and tracking tools that follow trends in women’s representation in the US and internationally.

This slideshow gives some additional background information on who we are, our research, and our ongoing projects.

infogram_0_7fcaf306-e170-4395-973e-5076a7e938d0RW 101 Presentationhttps://e.infogram.com/js/dist/embed.js?L64text/javascript


Interview with Pantsuit Politics

Posted on Blog by on July 25, 2019

At a time when political tensions are high and the number of women in elected office is low, I asked Sarah Stewart Holland and Beth Silvers, the hosts of the podcast Pantsuit Politics, for their takes on how partisanship and women’s representation influence one another. With Holland on the left side of the political spectrum and Silvers on the right, the show features what their website calls, “grace-filled political conversations.” Since Holland and Silvers have been talking politics (politely) on the air since November 2015, they seemed like the perfect people to ask about where our society’s political conversations are taking us in terms of women’s representation.