This week, millions in the U.S. and abroad celebrated Halloween by dressing up, eating candy, and getting into the spooky spirit! Ghosts and goblins may haunt the streets on Halloween night, but the real spookiness lies in the structural barriers that hinder progress toward gender balance. Just as you might encounter eerie surprises and unexpected scares while trick-or-treating, the path to a more inclusive and representative government is riddled with its own set of "tricks" and "treats."
In this week's Weekend Reading, we'll expose the "tricks" that have haunted our democracy and celebrate the "treats" that can remove these obstacles once and for all. 👻🔮🎃
Woman-Majority Councils Make a Difference: A New Report from The New Majority NYC
What a treat! This week, RepresentWomen partner The New Majority NYC released a report that supported two of the most important findings of our own research on NYC: (1) candidate groups are a vital part of the twin-track approach, and (2) not only do women make a difference regarding the types of policies passed, but all New Yorkers benefit from a diverse council.
A new report from a group known for successfully fighting to get more women elected is highlighting the accomplishments of New York City’s first women-majority City Council, arguing that the representation has led the body to tackle issues that have long been overlooked.
Those accomplishments? The New Majority NYC’s report shared exclusively with City & State points to things like allocating resources to domestic violence survivors, passing a sweeping legislative package to increase the diversity of city firefighters, and securing $170 million within the city budget to expand the Summer Youth Employment Program. Child care, maternal health, and reproductive rights were all clear priorities over the last two years, demonstrated through the prompt passage of the NYC Abortion Rights Act in wake of the overturning of Roe v. Wade and legislation addressing disparities in maternal and birthing health, according to the report. Under New York City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams, 25 of the council’s 36 committees are led by a woman.
“By addressing matters of equity and opportunity, healthcare, community safety, education, and housing accessibility, the new majority council has inspired long-awaited change not before seen from less representative councils,” the report says.
Women Creating Change Study Finds That New York City’s Pay Gap Has Not Improved Since 2007
While a woman woman-majority council in New York City is certainly a treat, there are still issues that haunt women in the city. The New York Times published a fascinating article written by Metro desk reporter Winnie Hu about an illuminating new study from the Center for New York City Affairs at The New School and Women Creating Change that was released this week. According to the study, women still earn less than men in the workplace across all professions despite decades-old federally mandated legislation existing to prevent this outcome. Economic insecurity is a major barrier for women to run, win, serve, and lead.
Since 1997, women’s pay in the city has actually declined slightly, by 2 cents against men’s pay, even as women’s pay nationally has risen by 6 cents over the same period. At the same time, New York State mirrored national trends, with the earnings ratio for women climbing to 88 cents for every $1 men earned, up from 83 cents.
“Women don’t make more than men in any occupation that I could find,” Lina Moe, the lead author of the study, said in an interview.
And gender discrimination has kept some women from reaching the highest-paid leadership and executive positions, the study said…
Pay inequities have particularly hurt women of color. Hispanic women were at the bottom of the city’s pay scale, earning 54 cents for every $1 earned by white men, who were at the top of the scale, the study said. Black women were the second lowest group of earners, at 57 cents for every $ 1 by white men.
“The central barrier to civic participation is economic insecurity,” said Sharon Sewell-Fairman, the president and chief executive officer of Women Creating Change.
Ginger K. Gooch is Selected to Serve on Missouri’s State Supreme Court
Thankfully, it was all treats and no tricks this week in Missouri’s State Supreme Court. Kacen Bayless reports in The Kansas City Star that, on Monday, Missouri Governor Mike Parson selected Ginger K. Gooch to serve on the state’s highest court. Gooch currently serves as a judge on the Southern Missouri Court of Appeals, a position she began in 2022. Within the next few weeks, she will be sworn in, filling the vacancy left by Judge Patricia Breckenridge, who retired on October 13th, 2023.
Gov. Parson’s decision to appoint Judge Gooch cements the state’s Supreme Court as one of just 11 in the country to have a female majority. Although the gender composition of Missouri’s state Supreme Court deserves adequate recognition, across the nation women remain severely underrepresented throughout the judiciary. In June of 2022, RepresentWomen released a report outlining the best practices for gender-balanced appointments, which are particularly relevant for advancing women’s representation within state Supreme Courts.
Missouri Gov. Mike Parson on Monday named Ginger K. Gooch to serve as the state’s next Supreme Court judge, solidifying a female majority on the state’s highest court.
Gooch, a judge on the Missouri Court of Appeals, Southern District in Springfield, was one of three judges nominated for the position by a seven-member commission last week. She will fill the vacancy left by Judge Patricia Breckenridge, who retired earlier this month.
“Her work ethic is unquestioned and unmatched,” Parson said during a press conference in Jefferson City on Monday. “She is a loving mother, a dedicated wife and a proud woman of faith. One thing that has become clear to me is Judge Gooch has a passion for service…”
The appointment means that a majority — four of the seven — of the judges on the Missouri Supreme Court will be women. Missouri is one of only 11 states that had a majority of women on its Supreme Court, Broniec said when she was appointed last month.
What Went Wrong for Women in Oman's Elections?
Oh no! Another trick! In an article published in Asharq Al-Awsat, Mirza al-Khuweildi wrote about Omani women's representation declining zero percent after the October 31, 2023 elections. Oman has never had high women's representation in politics and did not have women’s suffrage until 1994. But what is the reason behind this low representation? This can be attributed to the “tricky” structural barriers that women face in the country’s political sphere.
These structural barriers include cultural obstacles that exclude women from political and public life, the prohibition of political parties that make women stand as independent candidates without financial and media support, the lack of gender quota laws, and the usage of “First-Past-The-Post” electoral system which prevents minorities from being fairly represented.
Oman can overcome these barriers by eliminating obstacles to finally reach the “treats” of gender equality via the introduction of gender quota laws, lifting the ban on the formation of political parties, and creating an inclusive voting system. You can read more about Oman women in politics by checking out RepresentWomen’s Country Brief: Arab States.
This is the second-highest participation in elections in the Sultanate of Oman after the Shura Council elections in 2011, which witnessed a record turnout of 76 percent…
The members of the Council elected in the tenth session represent 63 states. 843 candidates, including 32 women, competed in these elections, according to the final lists of candidates. The total number of voters who registered for the elections reached 753,690 voters, of whom 496,279 male and female voters actually participated, a rate of 65.88 percent.
The voting took place without papers or boxes, using an updated version of an electronic platform, which was inaugurated for the first time in 2019…
Although women constituted 48 percent of the total number of voters, no female candidate could win a seat in the council. The law in Oman has granted women the right to practice political work since the elections of Council’s second term (1994-1997). Back then, two female candidates were elected, as in the elections that followed.
However, women’s chances did not improve. In the previous council, only two female candidates won the electoral race, while the previous council included only one woman.
U.S. Representative Kay Granger Won’t Seek Reelection
After almost 30 years, U.S. Representative Kay Granger announced that she would not be seeking reelection in 2024. With elections coming up next year, we will be watching to see if Texas’ 12th district will elect another woman to office. Her decision to not seek reelection, along with her interest in staying in leadership on the Appropriations Committee, demonstrate the need for multiple solutions to build women’s political power, including term limits and gender-balanced appointments (particularly when those limits are up).
“Serving my community has been the greatest honor, and I have always fought to improve the lives of my constituents,” Granger said. “As the first female Mayor of Fort Worth, first Republican United States Congresswoman from Texas, and the first female Republican Appropriations Chair, I have been able to accomplish more in this life than I could have imagined, and I owe it all to my incredible family, staff, friends, and supporters…”
A longtime member of the Appropriations Committee, Granger had put out the word earlier this year that she wanted a waiver from GOP rules that limit committee leadership to three consecutive two-year terms so as to be able to serve another term as chair if the GOP holds the House in 2024, or serve as the ranking member if Republicans don’t…
Granger, a former educator who graduated from Texas Wesleyan University, has been a trailblazer from her time as Fort Worth’s mayor. Granger’s political career began on Fort Worth’s Zoning Commission. From there, she was elected to Fort Worth City Council, and she became the first woman to serve as the city’s mayor in 1991. In Congress, she was the only Republican woman in the Texas delegation from the time she was elected in 1996 to 2020 when Rep. Beth Van Duyne of Irving was elected.
With temperatures dropping to below freezing this week, the team at RepresentWomen has been finding ways to stay warm. Rank your favorites below!
That's all for this week. Have a wonderful weekend!
-The RepresentWomen Team
P.S. We leave you with one final treat – a nod to Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, Literary Master of Horror and Women’s Rights.
Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley’s legacy positions her as one of the literary world’s most iconic figures. Shelley is best known as an ardent women’s rights advocate and the author of the acclaimed novel Frankenstein. The English novelist’s achievements are even more impressive given the fact that so few women writers were able to rise to prominence in the male-dominated publishing industry during the 18th Century. Her famed science fiction novel Frankenstein still sells 40,000 per year and has been adapted to popular culture in films and scripted series. Shelley has inspired countless women authors, essayists, and poets across the globe. Her career exemplifies the importance of working towards gender parity in all fields, whether literature or politics.
“Beware for I am fearless and therefore powerful!”