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Weekend Reading on Women's Representation March 15th, 2024

Dear Readers,

Women’s History Month continues, and we honor extraordinary women who pave the way for an equitable democracy. RepresentWomen continues to celebrate the success of our Democracy Solutions Summit, where women experts from around the world shared viable strategies to increase women’s representation in politics. If you missed this year’s event and would love to catch up, please watch the recordings posted on our YouTube page.

Another fabulous event is on the horizon, and I hope you all can join me! On March 25th,  RepresentWomen’s board member Amber McReynolds will facilitate The Women Who Make Democracy Work, a discussion about the challenges women election officials face, strategies they have implemented to combat growing problems, and how this critical job has evolved. The event will feature Senator Laphonza Butler and Faces of Democracy members Maggie Toulouse Oliver, Carly Koppes, and Claire Woodall. Register for the event and tell a friend so they, too, can learn why women election officials are essential to our movement as they ensure a fair democracy.

This week, read about pay equity being low in Biden’s administration, Black women’s priorities for the 2024 Presidential Election, Kilkenny women addressing barriers they face when entering the political arena, the European Commission celebrating International Women’s Day by amplifying the need for parity, and the California primaries being a beacon of hope for increased representation in the state legislature.

Biden's White House Falls Short on Pay Equity

Credit: Oliver Contreras

Chabeli Carrazana explores an analysis done by The 19th on equal pay in the Biden Administration. President Biden has yet to achieve pay equity within the White House, with women earning 80 cents for every $1 men earned in 2023, a gap wider than the national average. The pay gaps in both the Trump and Biden administrations highlight systemic challenges, with women disproportionately represented in lower-paid positions.

Though pay equity has been a policy focus for President Joe Biden, he still hasn’t delivered on parity within his own White House. Women working in the White House were earning 80 cents for every $1 men earned in 2023, a gap wider than the national average, according to an analysis of the most recent data by The 19th. 

Tuesday marks Equal Pay Day, when the country recognizes the size of the pay gap between men and women and the work needed to close it. In 2024, women working full-time earn 84 cents for every $1 White men earn. If part-time workers are included, the gap widens further, with women earning 78 cents on the man’s $1 because they are the ones more likely to be working low-paid, part-time jobs.

Equal pay will almost certainly be an issue Biden campaigns on this election year, drawing a contrast with former President Donald Trump. The pay gap among White House employees in Trump’s administration in 2020 was even wider. Women were earning 76 cents for every $1 men earned, The 19th found. The median wage for women working in the Trump White House was $72,700; for men, it was $95,350. In Biden’s White House, women’s median wage was $84,000, while men’s was $105,000. 

Poll Reveals Top Priorities of Black Women Voters for 2024 Election

Credit: Michael Holahan

A recent poll conducted by our allies at Higher Heights for America  focuses on Black women's political concerns and reveals vital priorities for the upcoming election:

  1. Cost of Living
  2. Public Safety 
  3. Affordable Housing
  4. Reducing Racism and Discrimination
  5. Reproductive Justice

For these issues to become a priority, we must elect more Black women to public office to enable them to bring their lived experiences to the policy-making process. Our brief “Breaking Barriers for Black Women in Politics” discusses strategies for increasing Black women’s political representation.

Jessica Washington for The Root reports:

Black women have been the bedrock of our political system for generations. But how often does anyone bother to ask what Black women, specifically, want from the system they’ve worked so hard to uphold.

A new poll from Higher Heights for America, an organization dedicated to increasing Black women’s political power, asks those very questions and more. The poll, conducted by HIT Strategies and obtained by The Hill— highlights key issues for Black women going into the election…

Pollsters also learned that Black women are pretty aware of their political value! Roughly 76 percent of Black women in the poll said that they felt as if their vote was powerful.

Kilkenny Women in Politics Seminar Addresses Barriers and Urges Increased Female Representation

Kilkenny Women in Politics Seminar. Credit: Kilkenny County Council Facebook

 Mary Cody for IrelandLive discusses the “Kilkenny Women in Politics” seminar, which took place on International Women’s Day. Mary Hilda Cavanagh, the longest-serving continuously elected female County Councillor in Ireland, spoke about barriers, like candidate selection and confidence, that remain for women in politics. Cavanagh advises women to overcome hesitations during the seminar and run for office. The event highlights the need for increased women’s representation, as only 26% of Ireland's county councilors are women.

Removing barriers for women running for office would fast-track gender balance. Be sure to check our web page on women running to learn more.

Cllr. Cavanagh’s advice to the women of Kilkenny was simple: “Be conscious of the time it involves, but if you want to do it- go for it! It’s better to put your name on the ballot paper, and if you’re beaten, you’re beaten, you can run again in five years’ time but it’s better to run than regret it all of your life.”

The veteran councilor was first elected in 1974, and she noted this was a time when there was no maternity leave for councilors, and she worked without a salary for the first twenty-five years as a public representative

European Commission Urges Women's Inclusion in Politics on International Women's Day

Credit: RepresentWomen

This past International Women’s Day, the European Commission emphasized women’s equality as a sign of a thriving democracy. Women remain underrepresented in politics, with only six EU countries achieving gender balance in parliament and five having women Heads of State. The Commission urges more efforts to promote women's inclusion in politics. 

Women's lives would vastly improve if more women were in politics because issues affecting women get pushed to the forefront. Our research library provides data-driven strategies to increase women’s representation in the U.S. and worldwide.

The European Commission reports:

This year’s global theme, ‘Inspire Inclusion, ’ highlights that women's participation in society is essential. Europe has been taking steps towards gender equality, such as implementing pay transparency, increasing women’s representation on corporate boards, and working towards freedom from violence. But the path to full equality is still long.

Women continue to be underrepresented in politics:

  • only 6 EU countries have achieved a gender balance of more than 40% in their Members of Parliament
  • only 5 EU countries have female Heads of State
  • the European Parliament’s members are close to gender balance, with 40% women and 60% men

With the current slow pace of change, women's share of workplace management positions will reach only 30% by 2050. This is why the Commission is working with EU countries to increase the number of women in decision-making positions.

California Primaries Signal Potential Increase in Women’s Representation at the State Level

Credit: Demerzel21

Cal Matter’s Sameea Kamal reports on a potential change for the California State Legislature amidst the disheartening prospect of losing a California woman senator. The upcoming general election in California will mark the first time in 32 years a woman has not represented the state in the U.S. Senate. However, the State Legislature could see increased female representation. Close the Gap California predicts this number will rise to at least 55 women after the November, 2024 election.

However, in the Legislature, at least, representation of women is likely to grow.  

The number of women in the state Senate and Assembly is already a record 50 of 120 after the 2022 election. Based on the primary results so far, it’s expected to increase to at least 55 women after the November election, according to Close the Gap California, an advocacy group that seeks to elect women to office.

That would bring representation in the Legislature closer to matching California’s overall population: Women now make up 50% of the state but only 42% of the Legislature. At 55 lawmakers, that proportion would increase to 46%. 

“Women legislative candidates are proving that the historic rise we saw in 2022 was not just a one-cycle wave,” Susannah Delano, executive director of Close the Gap, said in a statement. “That’s fantastic news for California’s pipeline.”

Last week, the Academy voted Oppenheimer for Best Picture. Weekend Reading subscribers, however, voted for Barbie, with Oppenheimer second!

Ranked choice voting shouldn’t just be used to determine Oscar winners. If we want a fair democracy where everyone’s voices are heard, it should be the go-to voting system for our elections. By participating in this poll, let us know what issues you want to address in the 2024 elections!

Thanks for reading! Have a great weekend, and see you next week!

Cynthia Richie Terrell 


Our friends at FairVote released a fantastic resource for the 2024 election. Their 2024 Election Hub will give you the latest updates on all the 2024 races, including local and Presidential elections. For my friends on the frontlines of democracy reform, there’s a tracker for ranked choice voting ballot measures. Check it out today! You might also be interested in this terrific blog from FairVote on the use of ranked choice voting by the Academy of Motion Pictures – I’ll highlight this quote that shows the impact of proportional RCV on the Academy’s board of governors:

RCV isn’t just used for the Oscars; the Academy implemented it in 2020 for internal elections for its Board of Governors, as part of a package of several reforms. The Academy then elected its first-ever female-majority Board. This is likely an unsurprising fact for reformers who’ve seen New York City elect its first majority-women city council, St. Paul and Las Cruces elect their first all-women city councils, Alaska elect its first woman member of Congress, and Oakland elect its first three women mayors – all after adopting RCV.

And finally, the Fair Representation Act will be reintroduced next week! This legislation combines independent redistricting processes, multi-seat districts, and ranked choice voting that together will: end gerrymandering, increase civility, ensure partisan fairness, enable communities of color to elect candidates of choice from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific, and elect 40% more women to Congress! Sign up here to endorse the Fair Representation Act and join us next Wednesday, March 20th, on the Capitol lawn for the launch! I hope to see you there!


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